Every main Pokémon game has you battle your rival or friend after you receive your starter Pokémon. Every starter begins at level 5. They each know one Normal-type physical attack (e.g. Tackle, Scratch) and one stat-altering move (e.g. Growl, Leer), aside from Pokémon Yellow where Pikachu gets Growl and Thunderbolt (with STAB; the rival's Eevee also gets STAB on his Tackle.)

Throughout the Pokémon series, what's the optimum way to deploy your two moves in the starter battle?

  • No matter what you do, you can't guarantee a win in this battle. Your opponent can always ruin your day with an unlucky crit. Very bothersome. Nov 12, 2012 at 17:02
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    I also think the exact mechanics of this will be different depending on the specific matchup (which two exact Pokemon are you using? Do you have growl or leer?), including the randomly generated IV values. Also, what do you mean by "most efficient"? Do you want to maximize your chances to win, or try to win in the fewest turns? It may also change depending on generation. All that said, this is still a very interesting question. If I get some free time later I might do some mathcraft. Nov 12, 2012 at 17:03
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    By optimum, I mean most likely to win, as there's no advantage in Pokémon to winning faster. Starting stats are usually very similar at level 5, and I think (though I'd have to check) that the combat algorithm has remained about the same throughout the series, although in Black/White Tackle was increased to 50 power and all starters have Tackle and a defense-reducing move. I suspect the optimum strategy may vary mainly on which starter Pokémon you're using and whether it has Growl or Tail Whip/Leer. Nov 12, 2012 at 17:18
  • Nobody is going to have this stat on-hand, you're better off testing it yourself. The growl/leers will obviously come before the tackles, and they stop being effective after 3-5 times and so you will only need maybe 10 matches per game.
    – Pubby
    Nov 12, 2012 at 18:10
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    @Pubby There is no experimentation required, really. You can make a graph showing relative damage given and received over x turns relative to how many growls/leers you start with. The difficulty really comes in because your opponent may growl/leer you, which could alter the percentages. Ignoring crits and your opponent for now, you could calculate that for example, leering once then attacking 9 times does less damage than leering twice and attacking 8 times. This is answerable definitively. Nov 12, 2012 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


I had a play with a damage calculator I found online and my conclusion is: there are way too many variables to produce a definitive answer: base stats, IVs and Nature all play a part, even at level 5.

If your Pokemon has perfect IVs and beneficial Nature and your opponent has 0 IVs and negative Nature, it looks like you could deal at least an extra 20% damage than if those stats were reversed. I tried a good Snivy against a bad Tepig and got 42% damage from using Tackle, whereas a bad Oshawott against a good Snivy only did 14% damage with Tackle.

In my experience, using any status move is not worthwhile. It always takes the same number of moves before your opponent is KO'd. Example: assume an average damage of 20%, that would normally take 5 Tackles to KO your opponent. If you used Leer first, Tackle would deal ~30% damage (20*1.5). Now it takes Leer + 4 Tackles, so you don't gain anything.

Also note that your opponent uses moves randomly, which you can benefit from: Tackle>Leer>Tackle always does less total damage than Leer>Tackle>Tackle.

My advice: never use more than one status move, and if you do use one always use it as the first move. Then just spam Tackle.

  • I thought level 5 was too low for IVs to be different, same with natures. Nov 21, 2012 at 16:23
  • I'm just going on the results from the damage calculator. Natures change stats by 10% and 31 IVs adds 31 stat points by level 100, so it follows that at level 5 it could increase a stat from 10 to 12 or 13, which makes a significant difference to the damage dealt. Nov 21, 2012 at 17:37
  • So I just checked bulbapedia, and for a tepig, max IVs vs. 0 IVs is only a swing of one point for attack (much greater chance of identical numbers). Natures are bigger modifiers (if applicable), meaning the max swing can be 10.7 (no IVs, detrimental nature) to 14.135 (max IVs, beneficial nature) though I don't know how the game handles fractions. Nov 22, 2012 at 2:41
  • Comparing a good Snivy to a bad Oshawott might not be a fair test of IV difference, since their stats differ: veekun.com/dex/gadgets/… Nov 22, 2012 at 2:52
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    I can answer about fractions: Pokémon always rounds them down. So if your stat would normally be 14.135 it will be rounded down to 14 instead. This is then what the game uses for its damage calculations.
    – aphid
    Mar 8, 2017 at 7:17

I've always taken the attack over using status moves. Why?

When you use a status move, you throw away your (small) chance of scoring a critical in that turn if you had just attacked instead. There's no crit chance for using a status move.

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    Welcome to Gaming.SE. This answer could be improved by adding what the critical chance is, or linking to the official site to see a listing of move attributes. Nov 21, 2012 at 18:05

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