I'm playing HeartGold on my 3DS and decided very early on to focus on training only 4 pokemon that I like, since I won't be playing competitively. I just beat the dragon gym in Johto and it actually struck me: why are my pokemon (apart from Feraligatr) so weak?

Here's a breakdown:

  • Feraligatr: lvl 43, 137 hp, attack 115, defence 121, sp. atk 85, sp. def 81, speed 84
  • Onix: lvl 41, 97 hp, attack 51, defence 153, sp. atk 42, sp. def 40, speed 75
  • Haunter: lvl 41, 90 hp, attack 55, defence 56, sp. atk 100, sp. def 58, speed 104
  • Growlithe: lvl 38, 99 hp, attack 66, defence 53, sp. atk 66, sp. def 46, speed 59

Why would the other three's stats be so low? I remember playing Crystal with a Feraligatr, Charizard, Gengar and Venusaur and not having any problems whatsoever - does it mean HeartGold is much more different or difficult? I understand pokemon aren't equally strong but it looks to me like the difference is too big, isn't it?

Should I be concerned with IVs and EVs? I'd prefer not to...

Should I catch the same pokemon again and hope their stats would be higher? I'd love to be able to get a Steelix and a Gengar but I don't think that's going to happen.

  • Why a downvote? – JakeP Apr 21 '15 at 6:59
  • Have you made any attempt at ev training? – Studoku Apr 21 '15 at 11:20
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    @Studoku No, not really. I enjoy the game and don't want to make it tedious through that. I also don't plan on playing competitively; I chose the pokemon like that because I like them, not because they should be superpowerful. – JakeP Apr 21 '15 at 19:12

Your other pokemon (apart from Feraligatr) are all not fully evolved. The stats of unevolved pokemon are inherently lower than the stats of fully evolved pokemon. Onix, a defensive pokemon, with 153 defense, actually still looks pretty strong, if not an offensive powerhouse. Haunter's special attack is fine as well. Growlithe does look fairly underpowered, but that is just the nature of some pokemon versus others. Arcanine is solid but he's never going to be the hardest-hitting pokemon in your party.

I don't think there's anything to worry about. If you have a trade partner, you could evolve Onix and Haunter, and you can use a fire stone to evolve Growlithe, which will give you some extra stat boosts.

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  • I'm assuming for highest stats I'd have to make them evolve as early as possible? Also, since I have no-one to trade with around, I should probably find some other pokemon, shouldn't I? – JakeP Apr 20 '15 at 21:13
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    No, the level that they evolve has no effect on their potential stats. A level 60 Arcanine that was evolved at level 10 vs. evolved at level 60 will have the same stats, assuming the same IPs and EVs. – Invader Skoodge Apr 20 '15 at 21:14
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    @JakeP: Actually, after accounting for level and species, (thus leaving only IVs, EVs, and Natures) the Feraligatr is your weakest pokemon. coliru.stacked-crooked.com/a/ca836790d6c72a81. Evolution will do the others good. (My formulas very approximate, full data here: bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Stats#In_Generation_III_onward) – Mooing Duck Apr 20 '15 at 23:45
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    @Strix - it's worth noting that a lot of Pokemon that evolve via stones, like Growlithe stop learning moves once evolved. therefore it IS sometimes prudent to hold off evolution: a level 60 arcanine with only Ember and Tackle is still going to effectively be just as bad as a level 60 growlithe that knows Flare Blitz or similar – Robotnik Apr 21 '15 at 15:12
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    @JakeP: Evolving Onix will instantly make him up to 32% stronger. Evolving Haunter will instantly make him up to 23% stronger. Evolving Growlithe will make him up to a whopping ~59% stronger (though you'll miss learning Agility and Flamethrower, and will learn ExtremeSpeed instead). Other than that, EVs can add up to 128 points total to your stats. – Mooing Duck Apr 21 '15 at 20:19

As StrixVaria wrote, you have a not fully evolved team. Moreover, if you want to train only 4 Pokemon it's important to balance their movesets and the relative coverage.

In Crystal you had 3 fully evolved starters and Gengar who granted you a pretty decent coverage.

In your current game you probably need to improve that. I hope some of them know at least an Ice and Electric move, for example.
I'd recommend you to change Onix, that's not a good Pokemon for a playthrough due to its low base Attack and Special Attack stats. I don't think you need defensive Pokemon.

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    Haunter has levitate and is immune to ground. – Invader Skoodge Apr 21 '15 at 1:29
  • Uhm you are right, I thought only Gengar has that ability. – pinckerman Apr 21 '15 at 2:06
  • This isn't really an answer to the actual question that was asked, other than the first half-sentence referencing the other answer. This should probably be comments. – Mooing Duck Apr 21 '15 at 20:13
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    @MooingDuck That's why I decided to answer, you can't judge a team only by levels and stats, movesets are important to play Pokemon. I'm trying to help him to build a better team. – pinckerman Apr 21 '15 at 20:58
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    I get your point. But I wanted to explain him why he "played Crystal with a Feraligatr, Charizard, Gengar and Venusaur and not having any problems whatsoever" and now he does. He is asking several questions, I don't think this answer is off topic. – pinckerman Apr 21 '15 at 21:05

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