The best attackers in Pokemon GO.
Attackers Tier List

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Flavor of the Month - November & December 2018

Cresselia rounds out our legendary tier 5 raids this month. Another Psychic-type boss should mean some familiar counters but some newcomers from Gen 4 and the stat rebalance have joined the Attackers Tier List this month. Ghost, Dark, and Bug- types remain the top counters for this and other Psychic-types like Deoxys, found in EX raid battles.

Tier List Overview

The Pokemon Company declared a yearlong celebration of legendary Pokemon for 2018, and it seems clear the Tier 5 raid train will continue to chug along. A rotating cast of legendary raid bosses can cause big changes in a list of what’s considered a “best” attacker at any one time. In this update to the Attacker Tier List, we’re accounting for Tier 5 raid boss rotations by having a 2-part list:

  1. A list of "core" top attackers with good matchups against many gym defenders and raid bosses, and
  2. A rotating group of the top counters for current [Tier 5] raid bosses (the "flavors of the month") that doesn't include Pokemon featured in the first grouping

We anticipate that the “core” attackers on this list will be highly used in Raid battles throughout. Due to their strong fundamentals, they'll be good investments, even though their relative positions may shift over time as new Pokemon and new moves are unveiled.

A number of these Pokemon are legendaries, but if you’re looking to find some more accessible attackers, you can check out our Best Attacker by Type: Non-Legendary list.

Tier List

Tier 1

Tier 1.5

Tier 2

Tier 3

Tier 4

Tier 1

Tier 1 Pokemon are supreme species whose high Attack, great moves, and advantageous typing make them consistently superior attackers. These are amazing generalists and some of the safest investments with regards to future Pokemon.

Optimal sets:

  • Counter or Karate Chop (legacy) + Dynamic Punch

Great sets:

  • Counter + Close Combat or Cross Chop

Comments:

Machamp is the best Fighting attacker in the game: a type effective against the bulkiest gym defenders, especially Blissey. Not only is it an essential gym attacker, but many sought after Tier 4 raid bosses can be dismantled by Machamp.

Optimal sets:

  • Dragon Tail + Outrage


Great sets:

  • Air Slash + Aerial Ace


Comments:

Rayquaza's neutral DPS is the highest in the game, meaning it is always a great combatant. It rarely hits for effective damage, but Dragon moves are seldom resisted. Rayquaza is also the current top Flying attacker with its double Flying moveset.

Optimal sets:

  • Psycho Cut or Confusion + Shadow Ball (legacy)
  • Confusion + Psychic

Great sets:

  • Psycho Cut or Confusion + Thunderbolt
  • Psycho Cut or Confusion + Ice Beam

Comments:

Shadow Ball's neutral coverage coupled with Mewtwo's huge Attack makes it the 2nd best generalist. For those with a glut of Charged TMs who are using non-EX Mewtwo, they can leverage Mewtwo's current charged moves to best suit the occasion.

Tier 1.5

Tier 1.5 Pokemon are as strong as Tier 1 but are not as unanimously useful. They likely will also the best at what they do in the coming generations.

Optimal sets:

  • Shadow Claw (legacy) or Lick (legacy) + Shadow Ball

Great sets:

  • Shadow Claw (legacy) or Lick (legacy) + Sludge Bomb
  • Hex or Sucker Punch + Shadow Ball

Comments:

Gengar's DPS is top-notch, making it a standout among Psychic and Ghost counters. Its durability was awful and used to hinge on the legacy Shadow Claw. Changes in late 2018 gave Gengar access to Lick and 25% more bulk, catapulting its viability as a top attacker.

Optimal sets:

  • Fire Spin + Overheat or Sky Attack (legacy)

Comments:

Moltres is the top Fire attacker in the game, exercising double resistances against Grass and Bug. It can also make use of its legacy Sky Attack, which provides utility against Fighting-types and is overall better against neutral targets.

Optimal sets:

  • Smack Down (legacy) + Stone Edge
  • Bite + Crunch

Comments:

A double resistance to Psychic, high Attack stat, great bulk, and Dark and Rock coverage render Tyranitar a continual great investment. Though there are Rock and Dark attackers with higher DPS on the horizon, Tyranitar stands tall with big leads in HP and Defense.

Optimal sets:

  • Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash (legacy)

Great sets:

  • Zen Headbutt + Meteor Mash (legacy)

Comments:

Metagross already had the stats and typing to eke its way into the tier list, but it didn't have the moves - until Meteor Mash. It's now the third best generalist in the game and the top counter to Ice, Rock, and Fairy.

Optimal sets:

  • Waterfall + Hydro Pump


Comments:

In specialist matchups, Kyogre is ridiculously far ahead of all other contenders. Its high Water DPS is complemented by excellent bulk. Expect to keep seeing Kyogre as the top counter for any Pokemon weak to Water. Kyogre's a decent generalist, but in that function there are better options.

Tier 2

Tier 2 Pokemon are frequently top attackers in many matchups and will likely be relevant for generations to come, but they aren't as dominant as Tier 1 Pokemon.

Optimal sets:

  • Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant (legacy)

Comments

Community Day Venusaur is debatably the best Grass attacker now in GO and a standout at Tier 2, although the competition remains close with Roserade. In a direct comparison, Venusaur's durability pushes it ahead.

Optimal sets:

  • Dragon Tail or Dragon Breath (legacy) + Outrage or Draco Meteor (legacy)

Great sets:

  • Dragon Tail or Dragon Breath (legacy) + Hurricane or Dragon Claw (legacy)

Comments:

The descent of Rayquaza created debate on the future on Dragonite. It's obsolete, they say! But make no mistake, Dragonite is still a fantastic attacker, as it doesn't require Rare Candy to power up. Historically, it has been far easier to obtain than the other Dragons on this tier list.

Optimal sets:

  • Thunder Shock + Wild Charge

Comments:

Electric’s favorable type coverage, Raikou's good bulk and damage output, and the frequent appearance of Water-types on best defender lists make Raikou a top attacker choice.

Optimal sets:

  • Counter + Dynamic Punch


Comments:

Breloom always slightly out-DPS'd Machamp, but it was so frail that it had no practical advantage. After the November 2018 stat recalculation, Breloom is sometimes the superior option! It can flex as a Grass attacker, though it's worse than any option here.

Optimal sets:

  • Dragon Tail + Draco Meteor


Comments:

Salamence has a higher Attack and more peak DPS than Dragonite, but it’s hampered by Draco Meteor's 1 bar nature, sometimes leading to wasted energy and DPS. It can flex as a Fire or Water attacker, which is its boon over Dragonite.

Optimal sets:

  • Mud Shot + Solar Beam


Great sets:

  • Mud Shot + Earthquake


Comments:

Groudon is the best Ground-type attacker, but is also a great "Grass"-type attacker with Solar Beam. Ground-type moves aren't so great, which is why Groudon doesn't find itself higher. It will be useful in future Tier 5 raids, though.

Optimal sets:

  • Razor Leaf + Solar Beam
  • Poison Jab + Sludge Bomb

Comments:

Though Roserade is projected to be the top Grass DPS in the game, players should take caution, as Solar Beam's 1 bar nature means this is not always the case. It's better as a Poison attacker, but Poison is far worse as an attacking type.

Optimal sets:

  • Smack Down + Stone Edge


Great sets:

  • Mud Slap + Earthquake


Comments:

Remember when Rhydon was on the attacker tier list? Rhydon remembered, so it evolved and returned with a vengeance. Thankfully it learned Smack Down, without which it would be much less usable.

Optimal sets:

  • Thunder Shock + Wild Charge


Comments:

Players are quick to write off Raikou as obsolete, with Electivire claiming the Electric DPS throne. But this DPS lead is rather insignificant, and Raikou is way more durable. It's really a matter of preference.

Tier 3

Tier 3 Pokemon earn their place in raid and gym teams, but they're not the cream of the crop. Expect them to remain competitive in the future, though maybe obsoleted.

Optimal sets:

  • Fire Spin + Blast Burn (legacy)

Comments

Charizard lived in Flareon's shadow until its Community Day came along, before which it was projected to be better than Moltres. A last minute Blast Burn nerf quelled its ambitions, but it's a top Fire attacker that doesn't need Rare Candy.

Optimal sets:

  • Fire Spin or Fire Fang + Overheat

Great sets:

  • Fire Spin or Fire Fang + Flamethrower

Comments:

Entei does less DPS than Moltres, but its bulk allows it to do much more TDO. It also has a viable 2 bar charge move with Flamethrower, which is better for gym attacking.

Optimal sets:

  • Waterfall + Hydro Pump

Great sets:

  • Dragon Tail (legacy) + Outrage

Comments:

Gyarados plays second fiddle to Kyogre as a Water attacker, but it's not dependent on Rare Candy. It has Dragon and Dark movesets that are usable but subpar. Gyarados's Flying typing helps vs. Ground but hurts vs. Rock.

Optimal sets:

  • Thunder Shock (legacy) + Thunderbolt

Great sets:

  • Charge Beam  + Thunderbolt

Comments:

Zapdos's higher Attack compared to Raikou is more than offset by a worse charged move. Zapdos isn't bad, but it's difficult to justify spending Rare Candy on it when Raikou could get it instead. Thunder Shock closes that gap by a lot, but Zapdos is still not as bulky.

Optimal sets:

  • Confusion or Psycho Cut + Future Sight

Great sets:

  • Confusion or Psycho Cut + Shadow Ball

Comments:

Alakazam is still a viable attacker with a high DPS, but its niche has shrunk given competition from Espeon. For the people that have it, EX Mewtwo is strictly better.

Optimal sets:

  • Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw

Great sets:

  • Dragon Breath + Solar Beam
  • Zen Headbutt + Psychic

Comments:

Latios is good at many things, but doesn't excel. Dragon Claw makes him a user-friendly generalist, but his DPS falls short of the superior Dragon-types. He can run Psychic and Grass sets that are viable in solo raids, but there are better options.

Optimal sets:

  • Ice Shard + Avalanche
  • Feint Attack + Foul Play

Comments:

For the time being, Weavile is the highest DPS Ice and Dark attacker in the game, which sounds great. Practically, as a Dark attacker, Gengar and Tyranitar are better in some way, and Weavile's Ice dominance will fade as more of Gen 4 is released.

Tier 4

Tier 4 Pokemon have usable niches, but at this point there are better options. They are often second best or backup options.

Optimal sets:

  • Confusion (legacy) or Bullet Seed + Solar Beam

Great sets:

  • Confusion (legacy) or Extrasensory + Psychic

Comments:

Exeggutor’s versatile role as both an elite Grass-type attacker and a strong Psychic attacker keep it on the list. As time goes by, it faces more and more competition on both fronts.

Optimal sets:

  • Bullet Seed + Solar Beam

Great sets:

  • Dragon Tail + Dragon Pulse

Comments:

Alolan Exeggutor's Grass / Dragon typing gives it a double resistance to Water and neutrality to Fire. Alolan Exeggutor does better in those matchups. As a Dragon attacker, it's outclassed by everything above it, but it can do in a pinch. 

Optimal sets:

  • Fire Spin + Overheat

Great sets:

  • Fire Spin + Flamethrower

Comments:

When faced with a tough raid boss weak to Fire, Flareon faithfully follows its trainer to battle - no legendary raids, no research breakthroughs, and no Community Day shenanigans required.

Optimal sets:

  • Confusion or Zen Headbutt + Future Sight

Great sets:

  • Confusion + Psybeam

Comments:

Espeon’s Attack stat and good movesets make it a great Psychic attacker,  useful in the enduring Machamp raid. Its boon is how easy it is to obtain compared to Alakazam, Gardevoir, and Mewtwo.

Optimal sets:

  • Counter + Dynamic Punch


Great sets:

  • Counter + Close Combat


Comments:

Though it loses to Machamp in both DPS and TDO after the November 2018 stat recalculation, Hariyama is a great backup option for Fighting-type damage.

Optimal sets:

  • Spark + Wild Charge

Comments

Disregarding how difficult it is to obtain, Luxray is a great Electric attacker. Its bulk isn't near the legendary Raikou or even Zapdos, however.

Optimal sets:

  • Snarl + Dark Pulse


Comments:

Honchkrow has 2 types but for now is a 1-trick bird. It's strictly worse than Weavile as a Dark attacker and its Flying moveset is not worth considering without Sky Attack or Drill Peck.