If you’re returning to the game after a long hiatus, or if you’re simply a novice raider, the world of raiding in Pokemon GO can be intimidating. When new raid bosses appear, myriad resources (including GamePress) publish raid counter guides and infographics. Use these 3 currently unobtainable Pokemon and this raid will be easy peasy! That’s not terribly helpful advice.
Not a problem! This raid is still pretty trivial with other counters. You just need 6 maxed out copies of them to give you the best chance. Anyone can do it!
Or maybe not. Experienced raiders can take for granted their maxed out legendaries and A-tier counters. If you’re lacking in good Pokemon and starved for resources, then their suggestions are worthless. You’re not at that level - you still need to build a basic raid roster. With so many Pokemon in the game, where do you even start?
GamePress’s Attacker Tier List provides a rough valuation of the best raid-worthy species in the game. The long term goal, of course, is to accumulate legions of amazing legendary Pokemon. In the short term, you have to work with what’s directly available. Only about half of the entries on the tier list qualify as such: they are neither legendary nor reliant on moves obtainable for a limited time.
Even with those restrictions, there are enough species to cover important offensive bases. The following suggestions exclude legendary, limited, or otherwise very rare Pokemon.
As they say, it’s all about Machamp. Fighting is the only type effective vs. Normal and the best current type effective vs. Dark. It also counters Ice, Rock, and Steel to round out an impressive offensive profile. Many Tier 4 bosses are weak to Fighting.
Counters to Dragon-types
Tier 5 bosses are disproportionately Dragon-type. The best Dragon counters are Dragons themselves, but they can be hard to get. Alolan Exeggutor is a competent alternative. Most Dragons are also weak to Ice.
Counters to Psychic-types
Psychic is the other type highly represented among Tier 5 bosses. Tyranitar dominates them with ease and frequently shows up in Tier 4 raids. Honchkrow is less good, but common in the wild. Weavile is in between.
Counters to Water-types
If 70% of Earth’s surface is covered in Water, perhaps it’s no surprise that Water is the most common type in Pokemon, though not among past raid bosses. Grass also counters Rock and Ground, and frequently finds itself boosted by clear weather.
Counters to Flying-types
Flying is not only a common Pokemon type like Water, but it also represents a generation’s worth of legendary Pokemon. Rhyperior isn’t the best Rock attacker, but between Tyranitar’s exclusivity and Rampardos’s rarity, it’s the easiest one to find.
Counters to Machamp
Soloing a Machamp raid is often a player’s first stepping stone into the world of high-level raiding. These Pokemon are like a raider’s starter pack. Unfortunately, the Psychic-types aren’t good for much else in the present raid environment.
Rounding Out the Rest
Neither of these Pokemon are bad, but they don’t fit neatly into the other categories. Some of their roles are duplicated by other types: Grass and Water both cover Rock and Ground; Fire and Fighting both cover Ice and Steel. It’s worth a mention that Gyarados a superior attacker into Fire, while Flareon excels vs. Grass and Bug.
Figuring out which Pokemon to look for is simple enough. The time consuming part of the team building process is getting those Pokemon. Some are common species in the wild, others may require visiting nests, and a select few are best obtained through raiding. In-game events constantly mix up wild Pokemon spawns and sometimes feature exclusive movesets (like Community Day). Even when not active, event limited Pokemon can still be obtained through trading.
Use the Weather Boost
Wild and raid Pokemon of a type boosted by the active in-game weather start 5 levels higher than they would otherwise. Weather boosted wild Pokemon also have a minimum 4 IV in each stat. This is influential for 3 reasons:
High level boosted Pokemon are ready to raid with no Stardust investment
Boosted Pokemon are more likely to have high IVs for later investment
Boosted Pokemon may require less Stardust and Candy to max out
In the early stages of team building, any wild Pokemon boosted above level 30 is a blessing. Don’t be picky about IVs. Spend some Candy to evolve them and you’ll make a functional team with little effort. Save your Stardust for high IV specimens or legendary Pokemon that you want to max out.
The Psychic - Machamp - Tyranitar Raid Axis
This progression has existed since the inception of raids in Pokemon GO. You build a team of Psychic-types to solo Machamp, then use a team of Machamp to duo Tyranitar, who in turn is an elite counter to many Tier 5 raid bosses. Machamp and Tyranitar are staples of Tier 3 and Tier 4 raids, rarely disappearing from the raid rotation.
You can efficiently build an anti-Machamp team by evolving Abra, Eevee, Exeggcute, and Murkrow weather boosted above level 30. Exeggutor and Kirlia sometimes feature at Tier 2 in the raid boss rotation.
Keep an Eye Out for Events
Pokemon GO’s frequent week-long events can sometimes make a coveted species spawn frequently in the wild. For example, Exeggcute spawns have been boosted in multiple prior events, and Fighting events in the past were notable for increased Machop spawns. Some events are limited to a few hours, like Raid Days, Research Days, or Community Days. Speaking of which…
Save Up for Community Day
Since January 2018, Niantic has hosted 3-hour long in-game events once a month that feature a particular Pokemon species. Usually, the final form of this evolutionary line learns a move that is restricted to this narrow window of time. Community Days may feature otherwise rare Pokemon (like Bagon) and introduce meta-defining moves (like Meteor Mash on Metagross). They are must-play events for dedicated raiders. For those who can’t play due to scheduling conflicts, they can still save up some Pokemon to evolve during the event.
In December 2018, Niantic reactivated the limited move window for a full weekend that featured all of 2018’s Community Day species. It’s reasonable to expect that this will happen again at the end of this year. If you’ve missed a prior Community Day, another chance may await, though probably not for awhile.
Find some Trading Partners
Trading is an incredibly powerful tool, not just for obtaining limited Pokemon, but also to reroll IVs and get Lucky Pokemon with discounted power up costs.
Lucky Pokemon are the foremost reason to trade generously. They require half the Stardust to power up and are valuable assets for the dedicated raider. For common species, the best way to roll for Lucky Pokemon is to trade a lot, as only ~5% of trades become lucky. For legendary or rare species, it’s better to use the Lucky Friends feature instead, which can be (rarely) activated once players become Best Friends with each other.
Plug into Your Local Community
Being able to solo every Tier 3 raid (except Shuckle) is an achievement. Sadly, most Tier 4 and Tier 5 raids are off limits to solo players. You’re going to have to rely on your local community, whether they consist of dedicated raiders or more casual players. The Silph Road's community map is once place to look, although not all local communities are represented there. If you do raid with casual players, be patient and courteous. You can direct them to this article and maybe spark a deeper interest in raiding!
Pitfalls To Avoid
Don’t obsess over IVs
Fixating on IV perfection is one of the most common errors that players commit in Pokemon GO. It’s okay to avoid the power up button until you find a near-perfect specimen. You’re not getting that Stardust back. But until you’ve assembled a team of 6 perfect Machamp, you should be evolving high-level imperfect Machop for their immediate utility.
The moveset matters
Using a Honchkrow against Machamp is no good if it doesn’t have the right moves. It should have Peck and Sky Attack; Brave Bird can work, and its Dark moves have no business being used against a Machamp. Consider renaming such Pokemon to indicate its moveset, especially if it could have viable sets of different types.
You don’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every move in the game; that's what GamePress is for. But a basic knowledge of the type matchup chart goes a long way.