How To Beat Clair in Pokémon HG/SS (Blackthorn Gym Guide)

Clair Gym Leader Battle Vignette Screenshot in Pokémon HeartGold

You can easily defeat Clair with a Feraligatr if you teach it TM02 Dragon Claw. Its Water-typing, decent bulk, and access to the move Rage will be enough to turn the tide in your favor.

If you chose Chikorita or Cyndaquil as your starter, the best way to defeat Clair is by running a Haunter on your team and using Curse against her Kingdra. Curse deals percentage damage consistently every turn, and is also one of the few status ailments that cannot be cured by Full Restores.

Avoid inflicting status ailments against her two Dragonair because they have the Shed Skin Ability which gives them a chance to automatically cure status conditions.

Tip: You can obtain TM02 Dragon Claw from the Goldenrod Department Store Lottery every Sunday, at a 10% chance per draw.

Haunter evolves from Gastly starting at Level 25. You can find Gastly within Sprout Tower, in Violet City at night (from 6:00PM to 3:59AM in-game).

How To Defeat Clair (Quick Guide)

Here is a step-by-step overview of our recommended strategy:

  1. Lead the party with your strongest Pokémon.
  2. Defeat Clair’s Gyarados and Dragonairs via type-advantage moves.
  3. Swap to Haunter against Kingdra and use Curse.
  4. Survive until Kingdra faints from Curse’s effect.

Clair’s Team

Pokémon Level Type Ability Held Item Moveset

Gyarados (♀)
Lv. 38 Water/Flying Intimidate
Lowers the foe’s Attack stat.
  • Bite
  • Twister
  • Dragon Rage
  • Dragon Pulse

Dragonair (♀)
Lv. 38 Dragon Shed Skin
The Pokémon may heal its own status problems.
  • Thunder Wave
  • Slam
  • Aqua Tail
  • Dragon Pulse

Dragonair (♀)
Lv. 38 Dragon Shed Skin
The Pokémon may heal its own status problems.
  • Thunder Wave
  • Slam
  • Fire Blast
  • Dragon Pulse

Kingdra (♀)
Lv. 41 Water/Dragon Sniper
Powers up moves if they become critical hits.
Sitrus Berry
  • Hydro Pump
  • SmokeScreen
  • Hyper Beam
  • Dragon Pulse

Clair is the last and hardest Gym Leader in Johto, due to the oppressive strength of Dragon-types. Her Kingdra is especially dangerous because of its strong defenses and only a single weakness to Dragon-type moves.

Gyarados is the only non-Dragon Pokémon that Clair runs. It is not as threatening as her other Pokémon because its mostly Special move pool is significantly hindered by its poor Special Attack stat.

Both of her Dragonair have the move Thunder Wave, which they will always attempt to use if your Pokémon are vulnerable to being paralyzed.

Kingdra, her strongest Pokémon, combines bulkiness with very powerful attacks.

And if that wasn’t enough, it will also spam SmokeScreen to prevent you from getting any hits at all.

Preparing Your Party

Here is a list of Pokémon that we suggest you put in your party, in order of importance.

Essential Pokémon, Abilities, and Moves are in bold text.

Pokémon Type/s Level Ability Suggested Move/s Location
Haunter Ghost/Poison 41+ Any Curse
Confuse Ray
Evolve Gastly:
Sprout Tower (Night)
Feraligatr Water 41+ Any Dragon Claw
Evolve Totodile:
Prof. Elm’s Lab
Seadra Water 42+ Sniper Dragon Pulse Evolve Horsea:
Whirl Islands
Lapras Water/Ice 41+ Water Absorb Perish Song
Ice Beam
Union Cave (Every Friday)
Quagsire Water/Ground 41+ Water Absorb Blizzard
Cliff Cave (Day)
Route 32, Ruins of Alph, Union Cave (Surfing)
Vaporeon Water 41+ Water Absorb Blizzard
Aqua Ring
Evolve Eevee:
Goldenrod City (from Bill)
Slowbro Water/Psychic 43+ Any Blizzard
Evolve Eevee:
Slowpoke Well
Gyarados Water/Flying 41+ Any Ice Fang
Dragon Dance
Lake of Rage
Evolve Magikarp:
Fishing (Anywhere)
Dewgong Water/Ice 41+ Any Blizzard
Aqua Ring
Evolve Seel:
Route 47, Whirl Islands
Lanturn Water/Electric 41+ Volt Absorb Discharge
Confuse Ray
Evolve Chinchou:
Route 48
Magneton Electric/Steel 41+ Any Discharge
Metal Sound
Light Screen
Evolve Magnemite:
Routes 38 & 39
Ampharos Electric 41+ Any Discharge
Thunder Wave
Light Screen
Evolve Flaafy:
Routes 42 & 43
Typhlosion Fire 41+ Any SmokeScreen Evolve Cyndaquil:
Prof. Elm’s Lab
Meganium Grass 41+ Any SolarBeam
Leech Seed
Light Screen
Evolve Chikorita:
Prof. Elm’s Lab

Note: We have only listed locations that are accessible at this point in the game.

Feraligatr is very special because it is the only Pokémon that can learn TM02 Dragon Claw at this stage in the game.

However, not everyone will have chosen Totodile as their starter.

So here’s a quick overview of various strategies you might use in this fight:

  • Totodile as your starter, evolved into Feraligatr with Dragon Claw. Additionally its Water-typing helps it resist most of her Pokémon’s offensive moves.
  • Using Curse + Haunter to whittle down Kingdra’s health. We used something similar in our Whitney and Chuck battle guides.
    • Clair uses Full Restores to heal her Pokémon, making status conditions like Burn and Poison difficult to keep on. The Curse debuff is not curable by Full Restore, so it is the ideal status effect to inflict against Kingdra.
  • Having a Lapras on your team to use Perish Song against Kingdra. Running a Lapras is nice because it doubles as our tank.
    • Unfortunately, Perish Song will not be effective if Clair sends out her Kingdra early, as Clair’s AI knows to switch before Perish Song activates. So this only works if Kingdra is her last usable Pokémon.

For this guide, we will be using Haunter + Curse to counter Kingdra.

However, Clair’s other Pokémon will still need to be dealt with, and Haunter is not the best for sustained battling.

Good Typings for Your Party

We will need defensive Pokémon that can withstand Kingdra’s attacks while waiting for the Curse to complete. Type advantages are difficult to achieve against Dragon-types because it’s only resisted by Steel.

Magneton and Foretress are the only easily accessible Steel-types that do not involve Trade Evolutions. Magneton is the stronger of the two since it only receives 1/4th damage against Water, and has better Special Defense than Foretress.

The next best types to use will be:

  • Water
  • Electric
  • Grass

These types usually have decent bulk and good special defenses, making them ideal candidates for tanking Clair’s damage.

Some Water-type Pokémon have the Ability Water Absorb, which gives them immunity to Kingdra’s STAB Hydro Pump. In addition, Water-types often have access to Ice-type moves like Blizzard, which hit Dragon-types for super effective damage.

Note: Kingdra is Water/Dragon, so it will only receive neutral damage from Ice-type attacks.

For water-types, here’s a small list of great choices:

  • Lapras
  • Quagsire
  • Vaporeon
  • Poliwrath

Both Electric and Grass are not as good compared to Water, but they do have their upsides.

Grass-types resist Water-type moves and are great for stalling, but are susceptible to Dragonair’s Fire Blast, so use them with caution during this fight. Examples of Grass-type Pokémon you might want to consider using are:

  • Exeggutor
  • Jumpluff
  • Tangrowth

Electric-type Pokémon are damaged normally by Water but are immune to Thunder Wave, making them ideal matchups against Clair’s Dragonair. Pokémon like Ampharos and Lanturn are great Electric-types to use.

Our Team Comp

The team we used for this guide is as follows:

Pokémon Type Level Ability Held Item Moves
Magneton Steel/Electric 42 Sturdy
The Pokémon is protected against 1-hit KO attacks.
  • Discharge
  • Flash Cannon
  • Light Screen
  • Metal Sound
Seadra Water 42 Sniper
Powers up moves if they become critical hits.
Quick Claw
  • Dragon Pulse
  • Hydro Pump
  • Blizzard
  • SmokeScreen
Haunter Ghost/Poison 42 Levitate
Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.
  • Curse
  • Hypnosis
  • Confuse Ray
  • Shadow Ball
Cyndaquil Fire 42 Blaze
Powers up Fire-type moves in a pinch.
  • Flamethrower
  • Swift
  • Leer
  • SmokeScreen

Magneton, Seadra, and Haunter will all have important roles in our strategy.

Getting TM02 (Optional)

If you’ve chosen Totodile as your starter, you don’t really need to add more Pokémon to your team just for Clair. All you need is to teach your Feraligatr Dragon Claw.

TM02 Dragon Claw can be obtained from the Daily Drawing Corner section of the Goldenrod Department Store every Sunday as the First Prize.

Each draw costs 300 PokéDollars, and you have a 10% chance of getting the First Prize for every draw. That means on average, it’ll cost you 3000 PokéDollars for each TM.

The Daily Drawing Corner on the 6th floor of the Goldenrod Department Store. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The Daily Drawing Corner on the 6th floor of the Goldenrod Department Store.

You’re able to play in the Drawing Corner as many times as you want, so just keep playing until you get the First Prize.

Here are all the prizes you can get from the Daily Drawing Corner:

Day First Prize Second Prize Third Prize
Sunday TM02 Dragon Claw Luxury Ball Random Berry*
Monday TM65 Shadow Claw Nest Ball Random Berry*
Tuesday TM91 Flash Cannon Repeat Ball Random Berry*
Wednesday TM57 Charge Beam Net Ball Random Berry*
Thursday TM60 Drain Punch Quick Ball Random Berry*
Friday TM42 Facade Dusk Ball Random Berry*
Saturday TM62 Silver Wind Timer Ball Random Berry*
*One of the following: Cheri Berry, Chesto Berry, Pecha Berry, Rawst Berry, Aspear Berry, Oran Berry, Persim Berry.

Clair’s Gym Puzzle Guide

The Blackthorn City Gym has a unique set of puzzles that you need to solve to proceed. It involves moving and rotating platforms around to reach the next areas.

Each platform has three buttons in total:

  • x2 directional buttons
  • x1 button for rotating the platform clockwise

First Platform

The solution for the first part is relatively simple, as it teaches the basic mechanics. You’ll move in this order:

  1. Left
  2. Rotate
  3. Rotate
  4. Right

Note: Whenever you need to hit the same button twice in a row, you can just step off the button and then step back on it to trigger it again.

The orientation of the platform if you did the first puzzle right. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The orientation of the platform if you did the first puzzle right.

Once you get to the first island, there will be two unskippable trainers waiting to battle.

Second Platform

The second puzzle solution is slightly more complicated, but here’s the order to follow:

  1. Up
  2. Rotate
  3. Right
  4. Rotate
  5. Rotate
  6. Right
The orientation of the platform if you did the second puzzle right. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The orientation of the platform if you did the second puzzle right.

The second island has three trainers, and you can only skip one of them.

Third Platform

The solution for the third platform puzzle is much longer, as it moves across a large gap.

Here’s the exact order to follow:

  1. Left
  2. Rotate
  3. Rotate
  4. Right
  5. Rotate
  6. Up
  7. Up
  8. Up
  9. Rotate
  10. Right
  11. Rotate
  12. Up
  13. Up
The orientation of the platform after completing the third puzzle. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The orientation of the platform after completing the third puzzle.

Clair will be waiting for you on the last island after you finish the third platform puzzle.

Battling Clair

Clair will begin the battle with Gyarados.

We will lead our party with our strongest Pokémon against it. In our case, that would be Magneton.

It’s unlikely for Magneton to outspeed Gyarados, but that’s okay since we’ll be resisting all its attacks.

Tank the attack and use Discharge to eliminate Gyarados.

Tip: You may also choose to use Light Screen first before attacking Gyarados to increase your team’s Special Defense.

Magneton using Discharge on Clair’s Gyarados. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Magneton using Discharge on Clair’s Gyarados.

Clair will likely switch to her Dragonair with Fire Blast.

  • If she does swap to Dragonair then we will swap to Seadra
  • If you aren’t using Seadra, you can swap to your Ice-type user instead

Seadra’s Dragon Pulse should be able to dispatch both Dragonair with ease. If you find that your Pokémon cannot OHKO Dragonair, feel free to use Focus Energy or pop an X Special Attack to increase your stats.

Seadra using Dragon Pulse on Dragonair. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Seadra using Dragon Pulse on Dragonair.

When she sends out Kingdra, we’ll send out Haunter & immediately use Curse afterwards.

Haunter casting a Curse on Kingdra. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Haunter casting a Curse on Kingdra.

Haunter will likely not survive any attack from Kingdra after halving its HP, so we will just sacrifice it and switch to our other Pokémon after it gets KO’d.

All we need to do now is to survive until Kingdra falls.

Clair will try to use Full Restores to keep Kingdra alive, so be sure to use recovery items as well if necessary.

Tip: You could teach some of your Pokémon TM17 Protect so you can stall for more time while waiting for the curse to set.

Eventually, Clair will run out of recovery items, and you will win the battle.

Clair being defeated! / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Clair being defeated!

Getting the Rising Badge in the Dragon’s Den

Clair will not immediately award you with a badge after you beat her.

Instead, she will direct you to go to the Dragon’s Den to take on the Dragon-master challenge.

Clair refusing to give the player the Rising Badge. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Clair refusing to give the player the Rising Badge.

The Dragon’s Den is located directly behind the Gym, with the entrance surrounded by water.

You will need Pokémon that know Surf and Whirlpool in your party to access the shrine in the Dragon’s Den & claim your badge.

The entrance to the Dragon’s Den. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The entrance to the Dragon’s Den.

So when you’re ready & after you’ve defeated Clair, enter the cave behind the gym and descend the ladder.

To get to the shrine, walk south towards the broken bridge, then Surf left and then down.

Surfing in the Dragon’s Den, with the path towards the shrine highlighted in red. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Surfing in the Dragon’s Den, with the path towards the shrine highlighted in red.

You should eventually see a whirlpool, much like what you’d find in the Whirl Islands. Use Whirlpool to cross it.

Continue heading down past the whirlpool, then turn right and you will reach the entrance to the shrine.

Inside the shrine you can speak with the Master. He will ask you a few questions about your experience as a Pokémon trainer.

The player meeting with the Dragon Master. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The player meeting with the Dragon Master.

Your answers will not matter much if you only care about getting the badge. But if you avoid specific “incorrect” answers, the Master will give you a Dratini with ExtremeSpeed later.

ExtremeSpeed is a very strong move that Dratini normally doesn’t learn. So if you want to obtain the Dratini with ExtremeSpeed, refer to the table below for the correct answers to the quiz.

Question Acceptable Answers
What are Pokémon to you? Ally, Friend
What helps you to win battles? Strategy, Training
What kind of trainer do you wish to battle? Anyone
What is most important for raising Pokémon? Love, Knowledge
Strong Pokémon. Weak Pokémon. Which is more important? Both

After the test, Clair will enter the shrine and will get upset that you passed.

She will then get reprimanded by the Master for her arrogance, forcing her to award you with the Rising Badge. Upon receiving the badge, you will be able to use HM07 Waterfall outside of battle.

Clair giving the player the Rising Badge. / Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Clair giving the player the Rising Badge.

On your way to the exit of the Dragon’s Den, Clair will bump into you again and give you TM59 Dragon Pulse.

Note: If you use Dig, Teleport, or an Escape Rope to leave the Dragon’s Den before getting TM59, you will need to return to the Blackthorn Gym to collect the TM.

And after all that, you’ve finally completed the Blackthorn City Gym & should have all 8 Johto badges.

Crumble Thorn

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Game Developer, Digital Artist, and Lifelong Pokémon enthusiast. Writes about pretty much anything Pokémon-related, and also covers other games that they happen to hyperfixate in.

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