Best Strategies For Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s Elite Four

Best Strategies For Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s Elite Four

A Pokémon trainer is seen holding a Pokéball and looking confidently at the camera.

If you want to become the very best, you’ve gotta beat the very best.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Defeating the Elite Four and the regional champion in battle is a rite of passage in most Pokémon games, and that includes Scarlet and Violet. These are supposed the most-powerful Pokémon trainers in the Paldea region, and overcoming them and their teams is the only way to become the regional champion yourself.

But what should your team look like if you’re going to take on these trainers? Before we go trainer by trainer and talk about what weaknesses you’ll need to exploit to become Paldea’s champion, let’s touch on some general tips.

Level up before you go-go

Between all the trainers you’ll fight in the Paldea Pokémon League, you’ll face Pokémon whose levels range from 57 to 62. Since you’ll have already beaten all eight regional gym leaders, you’ll notice Scarlet and Violet have a sizable gap between the most powerful gym leader and the first of the Elite Four. Grusha, the Glaseado gym leader, had his Pokémon in the late 40s, and the Elite Four starts out 10 levels higher. So definitely do some training beforehand to get your team leveled up to at least the mid-50s.

“You need healing!”

Pokémon veterans will tell you that before you challenge the Elite Four, you need to stock up on healing items. These fights all happen in sequence, and you won’t be able to leave to heal your team and come back between them. However, you will have a chance to use healing items before each fight to your heart’s content. The PokéMart right outside the Pokémon League building will have plenty of Hyper Potions and Revives for you to buy. These will be helpful both between battles and during them, as it’s likely you’ll need to heal up if one of the Elite Four manages to take out some of your team.

Jack of all trades is better than a master of one

Over the years, I’ve seen a handful of Pokémon players who like to play with teams that double up on moves of the same type, rather than having a nice spread of attacks that lend themselves to more diverse situation. I prefer greater versatility. For example, during the main game, my Raichu had Thunderbolt (Electric), Play Rough (Fairy), Iron Tail (Steel), and Focus Blast (Fighting). Between these four moves, he could reasonably deal damage to nine out of Pokémon’s 18 creature types by himself. This is the kind of moveset I try to have with my entire team, which gives me more options for whatever situation the game throws at me.

If Raichu could use a super-effective Iron Tail on a rock/ground-type Pokémon, but would still be in danger of being one-shot by a devastating Earthquake, I could switch to my Quaquaval and use a water or fighting move without having to worry about him succumbing to the same weaknesses Raichu would. Versatility is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when you’re building a team, because a team of six Pokémon can’t cover this many weaknesses without learning moves outside its base typing. While it’s important to keep in mind what moves your Pokémon will get a bonus for thanks to their base typing or tera typing, don’t put all your Poké eggs in one Poké basket: You’ll just limit yourself and make fights harder than they need to be.

Save between fights

It can feel cheesy, but you should always be saving between fights at the Elite Four. If you lose a battle, all you’ve gotta do is close the game and reopen it to start where you left off. Do this before you’re transported back to the Pokémon Center in order to circumvent the autosave (or turn it off in the options menu), and you’ll be able to just try each fight again with new knowledge. You can also use this time to change your team’s movesets around if you find yourself lacking a super-effective response to one of your opponents’ Pokémon.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the Elite Four and the champion of Paldea.

Rika is seen pulling a glove snug onto her hand. Her eyes are closed as she prepares for battle.

Rika specializes in ground-type Pokémon and will stomp you into the ground if you’re not prepared.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Rika, the ground-type master

She is beauty, she is grace, but Rika’s team of ground-type Pokémon is full of a bunch of doofuses. Between Whiscash, Dugtrio, and Clodsire, half her team has big “not a thought behind those eyes” energy. But they’ve still got some hard-hitting moves and effective defenses that can take you by surprise if you’re not prepared.

Whiscash (Water/Ground), Level 57
Camerupt (Fire/Ground), Level 57
Donphan (Ground), Level 57
Dugtrio (Ground), Level 57
Clodsire (Terastalized Ground), Level 57

Dugtrio and Donphan are the most straightforward of Rika’s team, as they’re standard ground-type Pokémon weak to all of ground’s weaknesses: grass, ice, and water. Having a mix of these types of attacks will be important, however, as the other three Pokémon she uses have inherent counters to each of these types.

Rika’s Whiscash sets a precedent for how you should approach her party: You can’t just stick to one of ground’s typical weaknesses for the entire fight. As a water/ground-type Pokémon, Whiscash is only weak to grass-type moves, but it is double weakened by them, as they overpower water and ground-type Pokémon. So a grass-type move is best to start with, but be mindful of its Blizzard attack, as that will knock most grass-type Pokémon out real quick. Luckily, Whiscash is fairly slow, so if you can get a reasonably strong, risk-free attack like Energy Ball—or Meowscarada’s signature attack Flower Trick for those who chose Sprigatito as their starter—Whiscash’s double weakness to grass should do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Camerupt also requires a bit of forethought, as its fire/ground typing makes it more resistant to grass and ice attacks. However, water attacks will do four times as much damage against it, as both fire and ground are weakened by it. Unlike Whiscash, who could severely damage a grass-type Pokémon who weakened it, Camerupt doesn’t have a strong offensive option for the average water-type Pokémon. Its moves lean hard into its fire and ground typing, but it does have a steel-type move in Flash Cannon, which could be rough on any rock Pokémon in your roster if you decide to target its ground weakness rather than water. So the safest course of action is to use a water move like Aqua Tail or Quaquavel’s signature Aqua Step to take advantage of its lower physical defense stat.

Clodsire is Rika’s final Pokémon, and one of her trickiest. She will use her tera orb on it to overwrite its poison/ground typing and make it simply ground, so if you were planning on using a psychic attack to exploit its poison base typing, you’ll have to adjust. On top of this, Clodsire also has Water Absorb as its ability, which negates water attacks and also heals its HP by a quarter of its health. So it’s not just a wasted turn to try and use a water attack, it’s actively beneficial to Rika’s big oaf. Clodsire’s weaknesses in this scenario are grass, water, and ice.

Normally, I would advise against using a grass-type Pokémon against it because of its base poison typing, but Clodsire doesn’t have any damaging poison moves that could weaken a grass-type Pokémon. It does have Toxic, but that will only inflict the poison status, rather than do poison damage. The biggest struggle with Rika’s Clodsire is that, if you go in expecting to use certain moves, its tera typing or ability can trip you up. But once you know its actual spread of weaknesses, it’s a bit more straightforward.

Clodsire has a bulky special defense, but its physical defense is much lower. So if you can hit it with a physical ice or water move (such as Ice Spinner, Ice Hammer, or Aqua Tail), or fall back on the Aqua Step (if you’ve got it), Clodsire should go down pretty quickly.

Poppy smiles at the camera and charges up her tera orb, preparing to terastalize a Pokémon.

Poppy’s cutesy personality is a façade hiding a powerhouse party of steel-type Pokémon.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Poppy, the steel-using child labor law violation

The second of the Elite Four is a case study in juxtaposition between trainer and Pokémon, as Poppy is probably the youngest trainer in the Paldea region, but has some hefty steel-type brawlers on her team. All that being said, fighting her team requires the same flexibility as Rika’s, as her Pokémon ebb and flow between the steel type’s strengths and weaknesses. As nice as it would be to pick your strongest fire type and set them all ablaze, Poppy’s team has a few notable counters for the types that weaken steel.

Copperajah (Steel), Level 58
Magnezone (Electric/Steel), Level 58
Bronzong (Psychic/Steel), Level 58
Corviknight (Flying/Steel), Level 58
Tinkaton (Terastalized Steel), Level 59

Poppy leads with her Copperajah, and it’s an immediate counter to fire types. It just has a simple steel typing, but with moves like High Horsepower, it can go toe-to-toe with a fire-type Pokémon with little issue. It also acts as a setup Pokémon because it has Stealth Rock, which will scatter stones around your team, dealing rock damage to any Pokémon you send out throughout the battle. This is especially bad for fire-type Pokémon, as they’re weakened by rock attacks.

You have a few options to counter this. One is to just knock Copperajah out so quickly it doesn’t have the chance to use Stealth Rock, which is best accomplished by using a powerful fire, fighting, or ground attack. Copperajah has a lot of HP and can pack a punch, but its defenses are pretty middle of the road, and it’s exceptionally slow. So if you can manage to outspeed it (fairly easy) and knock it out in one hit (challenging, but doable) you can circumvent the danger of Stealth Rock altogether.

I generally avoid teaching my Pokémon the most powerful moves in their respective typings because they often come with drawbacks to accuracy or recharge time, but if you want to be thorough here, a Fire Blast or High Jump Kick can wipe Copperajah out before it has a chance to set up. These are often overkill in typical play, but when you’re facing a match-long threat like Stealth Rock, better safe than sorry.

If you’re not so lucky to take Copperajah out quickly, having a Pokémon who can clear enemy hazards is always smart. Pokémon like Donphan, Forretress, or Coalossal can learn Rapid Spin, which will clear out the Stealth Rock without being in too much danger from Poppy’s steel Pokémon.

Magnezone is fairly straightforward, as its double weakness to ground-type moves makes it an easy one-hit knockout. Corviknight is also pretty simple, as it doesn’t have much to counter its fire and electric weaknesses.

Bronzong is a bit trickier, as it has plenty of counters for fire-type Pokémon with Rock Blast and Earthquake. It also has the Levitate ability, which makes it immune to ground-type moves most steel Pokémon would be susceptible to. As such, it’s better to focus on its psychic typing, rather than steel. A good dark-type Pokémon would be an ideal counter thanks to its immunity to Bronzong’s psychic attacks, and one that has high physical defense would be able to withstand all of its moves. Umbreon would be a good fit, as it has strong physical defense, and its base dark typing would give it immunity to Bronzong’s psychic moves, as well as strengthen its dark-type attacks like Dark Pulse or Crunch.

Poppy’s last Pokémon is its Tinkaton, which she will terastalize into a full steel-type. Even without the tera type, Tinkaton’s physical moveset packs a punch, so it’s a force to be reckoned with if you’re not careful. Luckily, its weaknesses don’t really change too much with this typing beyond adding fighting. So, if you have fire-, fighting-, or ground-type moves (which you will probably have needed to get this far in the fight), you should be good to take out Tinkaton.

I’d recommend opting for ground, as Poppy will likely exploit either of the other two with Play Rough and Stone Edge, which weaken fighting and fire, respectively. Tinkaton has a hefty special defense, so using a physical-based ground move like Earthquake is your best bet.

Larry stares at his tera orb as it charges, looking tired and ready to go home to his wife.

Larry, the star of the show, can’t show up only once in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Larry returns to fly to new heights

I can’t lie, he made such a positive impression on me as a gym leader earlier in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet that I lost my mind when Larry, Pokémon’s embodiment of the Dolly Parton song “9 to 5,” showed up as a member of the Elite Four. But while his normal-type team required one strategy, his flying-type party in the Pokémon League requires another.

Tropius (Grass/Flying), Level 59
Oricorio (Electric/Flying), Level 59
Altaria (Dragon/Flying), Level 59
Staraptor (Normal/Flying), Level 59
Flamigo (Terastalized Flying), Level 60

Unlike Rika and Poppy, most of Larry’s trickiest Pokémon lead his team. While most flying-type trainers in this series can be easily handled with a good electric-type Pokémon like Raichu or Jolteon, Larry’s Tropius, Oricorio, and Altaria all require you to look for alternate weaknesses.

Tropius is a grass/flying type, which means it’s double weak to ice. Historically, I don’t typically make space for an ice-type Pokémon on my team because most water-type Pokémon can reliably learn ice moves, but Tropius is kitted out with Sunny Day and Solar Beam, which is a combo that can make short work of any water-type that dares to enter the field. So if you don’t have an ice-type Pokémon to throw out a quick Ice Beam or a water-type that’s both fast and strong enough to interrupt this setup, it might be best to opt to target one of its other weaknesses.

Luckily Tropius has many with its grass/flying typing, so we can pick from fire, flying, rock, or poison, as well. Presumably, you have a fire-type Pokémon from your fight with Poppy, so that’s a good Pokémon to lead with and get a good Flamethrower out before Tropius has a chance to set up its Solar Beam.

Oricorio’s electric/flying typing is interesting, because separately, those two elements have straightforward weaknesses to exploit. But together they limit your options because it will be immune to ground moves and relatively resistant to electric ones. Its remaining weaknesses are rock and ice, Either option is as effective, but be mindful that it also knows Icy Wind, which can be super effective on some rock-type Pokémon if they have a secondary ground affinity.

Larry’s Altaria is one of the Pokémon you’ll face that feels directly spec’d to counter its usual weaknesses. The dragon/flying Pokémon knows Moonblast (Fairy), Flamethrower (Fire), Ice Beam (Ice), and Dragon Pulse (Dragon), which is a hard counter for almost anything you can throw at it…almost.

Altaria can counter dragon and ice pretty handily, but it doesn’t have much to take out fairy Pokémon, or defend against fairy-type moves. It has pretty respectable physical and special defense, but its physical defense is a tad lower. So if you’ve got someone on your team that knows Play Rough, it’s a solid counter that exists in the gaps of Altaria’s moveset.

Then all that’s left is Starapator and a terastalized flying-type Flamigo. You can take out both of these handily with strong electric attacks. It’s best to avoid ice-type Pokémon for these last two, as both of them have fighting attacks that could do significant damage.

Hassel charges his tera orb and stares blankly at the camera.

Hassel teaches art at the academy in Paldea, but he also teaches the art of Pokémon battling as a member of the Elite Four.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Hassel teaches one final lesson

The final fight before the champion is against Hassel, the art teacher in Paldea’s academy. He specializes in dragon-type Pokémon, and his team includes a few ‘mons you likely won’t have seen by this point in your playthrough. So it’s good to be prepared for the twists and turns of this battle.

Noivern (Flying/Dragon), Level 60
Haxorus (Dragon), Level 60
Dragalge (Poison/Dragon), Level 60
Flapple (Grass/Dragon), Level 60
Baxcalibur (Terastalized Dragon), Level 61

Noivern leads Hassel’s team, and it’s one of the simplest in the group. It’s weak to all of dragon-type’s usual weaknesses, but its flying/dragon typing makes it twice as weak to ice-type moves. So blow a gentle, cold breeze in its direction (Ice Beam) and it should fall pretty quickly. Flapple is also pretty straightforward, as its grass/dragon typing makes it extremely susceptible to ice attacks, which it doesn’t have any real counters for.

Haxorus is also just a dragon-type, but it has a wider type coverage with its attacks. With Dragon Claw, Crunch, Iron Head, and Rock Tomb, it can reliably counter both ice and dragon Pokémon, so your best bet is to exploit the fairy-sized gap in its offensive capabilities as you did with Larry’s Altaria. Its physical defense is notably stronger than its special defense, so if you have Pokémon like Sylveon with an attack like Moonblast in your bag, you can make short work of Haxorus.

Dragalge is complicated because it can easily take down dragon and fairy Pokémon with its poison-type Sludge Bomb and dragon-type Dragon Pulse. So the safest weakness to exploit is likely psychic. You could also try ground, but do keep in mind Hassel’s Dragalge knows Hydro Pump, which can drop ground-type Pokémon in a single turn. Meanwhile, it doesn’t have any real counters for a psychic Pokémon, making it the poison/dragon-type’s biggest vulnerability.

Finally, we have Baxcalibur, Hassel’s ace and Scarlet and Violet’s pseudo-legendary. Hassel’s strategy with this Pokémon is pretty simple: Terastalize into a full dragon-type, and then use its signature move Glaive Rush until it wipes your team. If you have a fairy-type Pokémon you’ll be immune to this attack, so that will take the greatest threat off the table. But, oddly enough, Hassel’s Baxcalibur only knows two other moves, the ice-type Icicle Crash and fighting-type Brick Break. Fairy Pokémon are resistant to fighting attacks, and damaged normally by ice. So if you’ve got a fairy with decent special attack like the aforementioned Sylveon, you can carve your way through this Pokémon.

Geeta is seen holding her tera orb under a night sky.

Geeta charges her tera orb as if it will make any meaningful impact on this battle. Go, girl. Give us nothing.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Here comes the final challenger, Geeta

After you defeat all the members of the Elite Four, you’ll be given a complementary party heal before you face Geeta, the champion of the Paldea region.

Espathra (Psychic), Level 61
Gogoat (Grass), Level 61
Veluza (Water/Psychic), Level 61
Avalugg (Ice), Level 161
Kingambit (Dark/Steel), Level 61
Glimmora (Terastalized Rock), Level 62

As fans have noted since Scarlet and Violet launched, Geeta’s team is a bit underwhelming for a champion, even compared to the Elite Four who are supposedly under her. She doesn’t specialize in any one typing, so there’s not the same subversion and adaptation you see in the other trainer fights. No one on her team is particularly powerful like Hassel’s Baxcalibur or Poppy’s Tinkaton. The weirdest part of all of it is that Glimmora, which is treated as her signature Pokémon, is a setup Pokémon by design, but she uses it last and wastes its Toxic Debris ability. As such, the only real strategy with her is simply having Pokémon who know attacks that weaken hers.

More than half of her team has a one-type elemental affinity, with psychic-type Espathra, grass-type Gogoat, and ice-type Avalugg all starting out as such, and Glimmora becoming one by terastalizing into a rock-type.

Espathra and Gogoat are mostly lacking in hard counters to their weaknesses. A ghost, dark, or bug attack will take Espathra out, though be wary of its Dazzling Gleam if you choose to go the dark route. Gogoat has basically nothing to combat a fire, bug, or flying Pokémon. Avalugg fares a bit better—Earthquake gives it something to fight off any fire or rock Pokémon—but its remaining moves feel like they’re there to fill spaces rather than help it overcome anything you throw at it. So feel free to safely use a steel or fighting attack.

Veluza and Kingambit have dual typings, which makes them a little more complicated, but their movesets are still pretty straightforward. Veluza is a water/psychic type, but those types together don’t create any sort of interesting resistances or immunities to be aware of. It’s weak to everything those types are weak to, so a bug, ghost, grass, electric, or dark move will be super effective. Geeta also hasn’t taught it any moves that weaken its usual vulnerabilities, with the closest thing to a subversion in its kit being Ice Fang, and ice moves are fairly predictable for a water-type Pokémon to have. As such, there’s not much to worry about here.

Kingambit has one saving grace, in that the dark/steel Pokémon knows Zen Headbutt, a psychic move that would make short work of a fighting-type Pokémon who would otherwise be able to exploit its double weakness to fighting. But the Pokémon is also terribly slow, so if you can outspeed it, you have a chance to avoid the attack altogether.

Then there’s Glimmora, whose puzzling placement just really underlines how suboptimal Geeta’s team is. The rock/poison Pokémon will terastalize into a rock type, which does halve its normal double weakness to ground into just a standard one, but it is still very much weak to fighting, steel, and water. This change also opens itself up into a grass weakness it didn’t have before.

When it comes to attacking those weaknesses it has Dazzling Gleam to handle fighting-type Pokémon and Sludge Wave to handle any grass-type Pokémon without a secondary type to resist it. So the safest type to use is water, but Glimmora is also slow enough that you can probably get those attacks out fast enough to defeat it anyway.

There are hints in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s endgame that Geeta and Glimmora are tied into story elements that have yet to be explored. As such, it makes some sense that narratively Geeta would use Glimmora as her partner Pokémon and ace in battle. But the way the Pokémon is built as a setup Pokémon through its Toxic Debris ability, which lays out Toxic Spikes on the battlefield after it’s hit with a physical attack, means it doesn’t make sense for it to be utilized this way in battle. All of Geeta’s team just feels like it lacks the same forethought of the rest of the Elite Four. What an odd fight.

After you defeat Geeta, that’s the last time you can face the Elite Four in this sequential structure. This is a departure from previous games, which let you challenge the Pokémon League multiple times. However, you can still face all of these trainers in the postgame Academy Ace Tournament, where their teams will be slightly stronger and have different movesets. Geeta’s team still sucks, though!

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