How To Beat the Elite Four in Pokémon HGSS (Will, Koga, Bruno, Karen)

Koga's Battle vignette at the Elite Four in Pokémon HeartGold

Here are some quick key points to help you defeat the Elite Four in HG/SS:

  • Match your team’s highest Levels to the E4’s teams. The strongest Pokémon in the Elite Four is Level 47. If you want to be safer, you could grind up to Level 50 to match the Champion’s strongest Pokémon.
  • You can’t leave once you start. So make sure to get your team ready before even entering the fight against Will.
  • Be aware of the Type matchups. You’ll be facing mostly Psychic-, Poison-, Fighting-, and Dark-type Pokémon when battling the Elite Four, so make sure your team has the moves and Type advantages to be able to deal with these kinds of threats.
  • Have an even distribution of Moves. Make sure your team has a decent spread of physical and special STAB (Same-Type Attack Bonus) moves, as well as supporting and disrupting moves.
  • Equip your Pokémon with relevant items. Held items are an easy way to increase your Pokémon’s effectiveness without the hassle of training.
  • Stock up on Recovery Items. Bring plenty of Revives, Full Restores, Full Heals, and other recovery items so you can top up your team during and after every fight.

In this guide we’ll be going over each of the Elite Four members, their strengths and weaknesses, and the strategies you may want to employ when battling them.

Party Setup & Recommendations

Your personal strategy will vary depending on which Pokémon you have on your team.

So instead of giving a set strategy, we’ll be giving general tips that can apply to most teams, as well as tips for each member of the Elite Four later on.

Preparing Your Party

Most Pokémon can be categorized into two main roles: Attackers and Walls.

Attackers, as the name implies, are Pokémon that are mainly used for their offensive capabilities. They can specialize in Physical moves, Special moves, or sometimes both.

If an Attacker can wipe the enemy team on its own after setting up for a few turns, they’re often referred to as Sweepers.

A Timid Espeon’s Stats at level 31 / Pokémon HeartGold
A Timid Espeon’s Stats at level 31. Take note of the high Special Attack and Speed.

Walls, on the other hand, are used for their strong defenses.

Like with Attackers, they can also specialize in soaking Physical moves, Special moves, or both.

Attackers don’t necessarily have to have poor defenses, and Walls don’t necessarily have to have weak attack stats. They can be referred to as:

  • Glass Cannons
  • Bulky Attackers
  • Offensive Walls
  • Or Pure Walls

Depending on where they lie on the spectrum.

An Adamant Skarmory’s Stats at level 31 / Pokémon HeartGold
An Adamant Skarmory’s Stats at level 31. Take note of the high Defense Stat.

A good team will always have at least one Physical Attacker and one Special Attacker, with a decent spread of type coverage.

At this point in the game, you’d likely have a mostly complete team. However if you’re still in need of stronger Pokémon, we encourage you to use any of the Legendaries if they synergize well with the rest of your team.

If Legendaries are not your speed, we’ve created a table below that lists one Pokémon for each type (non-Legendaries) that you might want on your team, along with their roles.

Role Pokémon Type Ability Suggested Moves
Bulky Physical Sweeper Dragonite Dragon/ Flying Any
  • Dragon Dance
  • Dragon Claw
  • Fly
  • ExtremeSpeed
Bulky Physical Sweeper Gyarados Water/ Flying Intimidate
  • Dragon Dance
  • Aqua Tail
  • Ice Fang
  • Earthquake
Bulky Physical Sweeper Heracross Bug/ Fighting Guts
  • Swords Dance
  • Brick Break
  • Megahorn
  • Earthquake
Bulky Physical Sweeper Poliwrath Water/ Fighting Water Absorb
  • Belly Drum
  • Submission
  • Waterfall
  • Earthquake
Bulky Special Sweeper Yanmega Bug/ Flying Speed Boost
  • Protect
  • Bug Buzz
  • Air Slash
  • AncientPower
Special Sweeper Ninetales (SS) Fire Flash Fire
  • Nasty Plot
  • Flamethrower
  • Extrasensory
  • Dark Pulse
Bulky Mixed Attacker Arcanine (HG) Fire Intimidate
  • Agility
  • Flare Blitz
  • Crunch
  • Thunder Fang
Bulky Mixed Attacker Crobat Poison/ Flying Inner Focus
  • Confuse Ray
  • Cross Poison
  • Bite
  • Fly
Bulky Physical Attacker Mamoswine Ice/ Ground Snow Cloak
  • Hail
  • Earthquake
  • Ice Fang
  • Ice Shard
Bulky Physical Attacker Miltank Normal Scrappy
  • Milk Drink
  • Defense Curl
  • Rollout
  • Body Slam
Bulky Physical Attacker Rhydon Ground/ Rock Lightning Rod
  • Hammer Arm
  • Stone Edge
  • Earthquake
  • Avalanche
Bulky Physical Attacker Ursaring (SS) Normal Any
  • Slash
  • Aerial Ace
  • Shadow Claw
  • Avalanche
Bulky Special Attacker Ampharos Electric Static
  • Light Screen
  • Signal Beam
  • Power Gem
  • Thunderbolt
Bulky Special Attacker Exeggutor Grass/ Psychic Chlorophyll
  • Light Screen
  • Sunny Day
  • Psychic
  • SolarBeam
Bulky Special Attacker Lapras Water/ Ice Water Absorb
  • Light Screen
  • Ice Beam
  • Surf
  • Thunderbolt
Bulky Special Attacker Slowbro Water/ Psychic Any
  • Amnesia
  • Zen Headbutt
  • Surf
  • Shadow Ball
Special Attacker Magneton Electric/ Steel Any
  • Thunder Wave
  • Light Screen
  • Thunderbolt
  • Flash Cannon
Special Glass Cannon Haunter Ghost/ Poison Levitate
  • Curse
  • Shadow Ball
  • Thunderbolt
  • Sludge Bomb
Physical & Special Wall Umbreon Dark Synchronize
  • Confuse Ray
  • Flash
  • Quick Attack
  • Payback
Offensive Physical Wall Skarmory (SS) Steel/ Flying Keen Eye
  • Spikes
  • Steel Wing
  • Fly
  • Rock Tomb

Note: We have only listed possible TM moves above that are accessible at this point in the game.

Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind when building your team:

  • The game favors Bulky Pokémon. Since you’re able to use recovery items in non-competitive formats, having bulkier Pokémon is preferable since it will make better use of Max Potions and Full Restores.
  • Type matchups are paramount. Even lower-Level Pokémon can beat higher-Level ones given advantageous Type matchups.
  • Moves are stronger if the Pokémon is of the same type. This is referred to as “Same-Type Attack Bonus” or STAB. Although Sudowoodo and Piloswine have the same Attack Stat, Piloswine will deal more damage with Earthquake compared to Sudowoodo due to STAB.
  • Attack is for Physical moves as Special Attack is for Special moves. Attacking moves are labeled either as Physical or Special, and their strength is linked to your Pokémon’s Attack and Special Attack, respectively.
  • Move diversity is key. Having a variety of coverage and status moves is ideal to cover your Pokémon’s weaknesses or improve your pre-existing strengths.
  • Know your Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses. Gyarados for example can learn a lot of Special moves, but its Special Attack is abysmal. So just because you can teach it Thunder or Fire Blast doesn’t mean you should.
  • Status moves are not useless. These moves can vary in effectiveness, but some strong status moves like Swords Dance or Spore can completely turn the tide of the battle if used correctly.
  • Try to avoid using Support Pokémon. Supports like Shuckle and Jumpluff are usually reserved for competitive formats and Double Battles since they often have unremarkable offensive capabilities and are harder to use effectively in battle.

Since we’ll be dealing with mostly Psychic-, Poison-, Fighting-, and Dark-type Pokémon (and Dragon-type for the Champion), you could tailor your team to exclusively counter these specific Types.

But it’s better to have wider coverage so that your team will still work well in the post-game.

Our E4 Party

The team we used for this guide is as follows:

Pokémon Type Level Ability Held Item Moves
Magneton Steel/Electric 50 Sturdy
The Pokémon is protected against 1-hit KO attacks.
Quick Claw
  • Discharge
  • Flash Cannon
  • Light Screen
  • Thunder Wave
Lapras Water/Ice 47 Water Absorb
Restores HP if hit by a Water-type move.
Shell Bell
  • Ice Beam
  • Surf
  • Thunder
  • Rain Dance
Heracross Bug/Fighting 47 Guts
Boosts Attack if there is a status problem.
Choice Scarf
  • Brick Break
  • Aerial Ace
  • Night Slash
  • Earthquake
Umbreon Dark 47 Synchronize
Passes a burn, poison, or paralysis to the foe.
Bright Powder
  • Dig
  • Payback
  • Confuse Ray
  • Quick Attack
Xatu Psychic/Flying 47 Synchronize
Passes a burn, poison, or paralysis to the foe.
King’s Rock
  • Psychic
  • Pluck
  • Reflect
  • Roost
Typhlosion Fire 50 Blaze
Powers up Fire-type moves in a pinch.
  • Flamethrower
  • Eruption
  • Swift
  • SmokeScreen

We’ve chosen our team to fill specific roles.

  • Magneton and Xatu will set up Light Screen and Reflect to increase our team’s defenses so we can safely switch to our main attackers, Lapras and Heracross.
  • Umbreon will be there to stall out the enemy in case we need to use Revives.
  • Typhlosion can solo carry a single fight with STAB Eruption at full HP if needed.

We’ll be changing the lead Pokémon depending on our opponent.

Equipping Held Items

Pokémon can be equipped with Held Items to increase their effectiveness in battle.

We’ve selected some of the most useful items to give to your Pokémon before challenging the E4.

Held Item Effect How to Obtain
Bright Powder Reduces the Accuracy of opponents by 10%. Given by NPC in Goldenrod Radio Tower after defeating Team Rocket
Quick Claw Gives the holder a 20% chance of moving first. Given by NPC in National Park
Choice Scarf Doubles the holder’s Speed but locks the holder into the first move it uses. Purchased by Mom (if Savings are enabled)
Choice Specs Increases the holder’s Special Attack by 50% but locks the holder into the first move it uses. Lake of Rage (High Tide, Requires Surf)
Shell Bell Heals the user for 1/8 of the damage dealt to targets. Route 32 (Requires Rock Smash)
Metronome Boosts consecutive uses of the same move by 20% until you miss or choose a different move, up to +100%. Goldenrod Game Corner (1000 Coins)
Muscle Band Increases the power of Physical moves by 10% Purchased by Mom (if Savings are enabled)
King’s Rock Gives damaging moves a 10% chance to flinch the target. Slowpoke Well, Pokéathlon Dome (Sundays, 3000 Pts.), Held by wild Poliwhirl & Slowbro (5%)
Wide Lens Boosts the holder’s Accuracy by 10%. Goldenrod Game Corner (1000 Coins), Held by wild Yanma (5%)
Zoom Lens Boosts the holder’s Accuracy by 20% if it moves after the target. Goldenrod Game Corner (1000 Coins)
Life Orb (HG) Boosts the power of the holder’s moves by 30% but every attack consumes 10% of the holder’s max HP. Ruins of Alph (Northwest Puzzle Room, Requires Surf & Ho-oh in the Party)
Sitrus Berry Restores 25% of the holder’s HP when it drops below 50% (Consumable) Traded by NPC in Violet City when given a Yellow Shard.
Lum Berry Cures the holder’s Poison, Paralysis, Burn, Sleep, Freeze, and Confusion (Consumable) Traded by NPC in Violet City when given a Green Shard.
Note: We have only listed items that are obtainable at this point in the game.

These items synergize with many Pokémon in different ways, so mix and match them to see which ones your team members need.

Note: We did not include items like the Power Herb and Focus Sash in this guide because of their rarity and single-use nature.

Fighting The Elite Four

#1: Battling Will

Magneton setting up Light Screen / Pokémon HeartGold
Magneton setting up Light Screen.

Will specializes in Psychic-type Pokémon. He will test your team’s strength against Special Attackers.

Pokémon Level Type Ability Held Item Moveset

Xatu (♀)
Lv. 40 Psychic/Flying Synchronize
Passes a burn, poison, or paralysis to the foe.
  • U-turn
  • Me First
  • Confuse Ray
  • Psychic

Jynx (♀)
Lv. 41 Ice/Psychic Oblivious
Prevents it from becoming infatuated.
  • Lovely Kiss
  • DoubleSlap
  • Ice Punch
  • Psychic

Slowbro (♀)
Lv. 41 Water/Psychic Own Tempo
Prevents the Pokémon from becoming confused.
  • Curse
  • Amnesia
  • Water Pulse
  • Psychic

Exeggutor (♀)
Lv. 41 Grass/Psychic Chlorophyll
Boosts the Pokémon’s Speed in sunshine.
  • Reflect
  • Hypnosis
  • Egg Bomb
  • Psychic

Xatu (♀)
Lv. 42 Psychic/Flying Early Bird
The Pokémon awakens quickly from sleep.
Sitrus Berry
  • Aerial Ace
  • Ominous Wind
  • Confuse Ray
  • Psychic

Here’s a summary of key things you should know about Will’s team:

  • Will’s Pokémon are weak to Ghost and Dark. Moves like Shadow Ball or Night Slash will be extremely effective against all his Pokémon.
  • Will’s Pokémon have very high Special Attack. You should bring Specially bulky Pokémon or use Light Screen to significantly increase your team’s bulk against Special attacks.
  • Will’s Pokémon have Psychic as their strongest move. This means that Steel- and Dark-types will excel this battle, due to their resistances to Psychic-type moves. Steel-types in particular resist all of Will’s offensive moves except for Slowbro’s Water Pulse.
  • Most of Will’s Pokémon have good Defense. Apart from Jynx, we recommend using Special moves against Will if you do not have access to super-effective moves.
  • Will has one Full Restore. He’ll use one as soon as any of his Pokémon’s HP is below 25%. Keep this in mind and make use of the free turn to set up Light Screen or heal your own Pokémon.

This fight will be relatively easy if you use Magneton, as its STAB moves will be super-effective against most of Will’s team.

Note: Although it is Ghost-type, it is not advisable to use Haunter against Will as it is weak to Psychic-type moves.

Here is a rundown of Will’s Pokémon, their individual strategies, and how you might go about some of the more problematic ones:

  • Will’s first Xatu has U-turn. Do not lead your team with a Dark- or Psychic-type as it will use U-turn against you. He will choose randomly between the other moves against other matchups.
  • Jynx can put your Pokémon to sleep. It has the move Lovely Kiss, which is a move that puts Pokémon to sleep. It also has Ice Punch, but it is not that strong due to its poor Attack Stat.
  • Exeggutor will always use Reflect on its first turn. Avoid using Physical moves against it especially if you can’t outspeed it.
  • Slowbro will stack defensive buffs on itself. Slowbro is already incredibly bulky and will be even more difficult to take out if it uses Amnesia and Curse enough times.
    • To counter this, you can use a Dire Hit to improve your Critical chance. Critical Hits ignore the enemy’s defensive Stat boosts, allowing you to deal significant damage to Slowbro. Dire Hits do not stack with the move Focus Energy nor itself.
Using a Dire Hit on Umbreon / Pokémon HeartGold
Using a Dire Hit on Umbreon.
  • Will’s second Xatu has a Sitrus Berry. It will consume its berry and heal ¼ of its HP when it goes below half health. Other than that, its strategy is similar to his first Xatu.

Being the first of the Elite Four, this battle shouldn’t give you too much trouble.

Remember to fully heal your team after you defeat Will.

#2: Battling Koga

Koga specializes in Poison-type Pokémon, but he runs Bug-types for this fight as well. He will test your team’s effectiveness against heavily disruptive teams.

Pokémon Level Type Ability Held Item Moveset

Ariados (♂)
Lv. 40 Bug/Poison Insomnia
Prevents the Pokémon from falling asleep.
  • Spider Web
  • Baton Pass
  • Giga Drain
  • Poison Jab

Forretress (♂)
Lv. 43 Bug/Steel Sturdy
The Pokémon is protected against 1-hit KO attacks.
  • Swift
  • Explosion
  • Protect
  • Toxic Spikes

Muk (♂)
Lv. 42 Poison Sticky Hold
Protects the Pokémon from item theft.
Black Sludge
  • Gunk Shot
  • Minimize
  • Screech
  • Toxic

Venomoth (♂)
Lv. 41 Bug/Poison Shield Dust
Blocks the added effects of attacks taken.
  • Psychic
  • Gust
  • Supersonic
  • Toxic

Crobat (♂)
Lv. 44 Poison/Flying Inner Focus
The Pokémon is protected from flinching.
Sitrus Berry
  • Quick Attack
  • Wing Attack
  • Double Team
  • Poison Fang
Koga’s Muk using Toxic / Pokémon HeartGold
Koga’s Muk using Toxic against Lapras.

Some things to keep in mind when battling Koga:

  • Koga’s strategy revolves around applying Poison to your team. Koga will try to stall out the battle to allow more turns for the poison to damage your Pokémon.
  • Koga’s Pokémon can inflict Bad Poison. With the exception of Ariados, Koga’s team is designed to inflict a stronger kind of Poison called Bad Poison. It starts off weaker than regular poison, but rapidly gets worse the longer the battle goes on.
  • Koga’s Damage will mostly come from Poison. Because of this, you should try to use Safeguard to prevent Status Ailments from being applied at all. You may also use Reflect since his Pokémon’s STAB moves are Physical.
  • Most of Koga’s Pokémon are weak to Psychic. The only exception to this is Forretress, which is only weak to Fire.
  • Some of Koga’s Pokémon are exceptionally bulky. Forretress and Muk in particular can be extremely frustrating to take out due to their very high Stats and annoying gimmicks. We recommend using Physical moves against Muk and Venomoth, and Special moves against the others.
  • Koga has one Full Restore. Like Will, Koga only has one Full Restore, and he’ll use one as soon as his Pokémon’s HP is below 25%. However, since you don’t really need to set up defenses, you should use this free turn to switch or heal your Pokémon.

Koga’s battle is a soft DPS check for your team. You want to be able to deal enough damage to his Pokémon before he can Poison your team to death.

Tip: It’s very important to bring lots of Antidotes or Full Heals for this fight, as the ramping damage of Bad Poison can be extremely deadly if not cured.

Although it is not Psychic-type, Magneton will still be a very solid pick for this fight due to its Poison immunity and resistances to the rest of Koga’s damaging moves.

Here is a rundown of Koga’s Pokémon, their individual strategies, and how you might go about some of the more problematic ones:

  • Ariados can prevent your Pokémon from switching with Spider Web. Its main gimmick is using Spider Web and Baton Pass to lock your Pokémon while it switches out.
  • Forretress will set up Toxic Spikes and use Explosion when it is about to faint. It also has Protect to stall the battle out even further.
    • It has very high Defense like Jasmine’s Steelix, so you should use Special moves against it if possible.
    • Fire-type moves deal quadruple damage to Forretress, so moves like Flamethrower and Fire Blast are very strong against it.

Toxic Spikes will Poison your Pokémon upon switching unless it is Poison-, Flying-, or Steel-type. If Forretress gets two stacks up, it will Badly Poison your Pokémon instead.

Forretress setting up Toxic Spikes. / Pokémon HeartGold
Forretress setting up Toxic Spikes.

Tip: Some Abilities like Immunity and Levitate will also prevent you from being poisoned by Toxic Spikes.

You can only remove Toxic Spikes by using the move Rapid Spin, or by switching into a Poison-type Pokémon that is also not a Flying-type, so make sure to deal with Forretress as quickly as you can.

Muk using Minimize. / Pokémon HeartGold
Muk using Minimize.
  • Muk will slowly heal itself after every turn with Black Sludge. It will also use Minimize to stack Evasion buffs, much like Chuck’s Primeape.
    • The best thing you can do is to defeat Muk with Psychic- or Ground-type moves before it can set up Minimize.
    • You might also use STAB moves that do not miss like Faint Attack and Magnet Bomb or set up weather like Rain or Hail so that Thunder and Blizzard cannot miss.
    • Finally, you could use X Accuracies to negate Muk’s Evasiveness if you do not have any of these moves.
    • Tip: Stomp also deals double damage and bypasses Accuracy checks against enemies who have used Minimize.
  • Venomoth is protected from additional effects of attacking moves. Its Ability Shield Dust prevents it from being afflicted with the secondary effects of attacks. This means that you will not be able to Burn them with Fire moves nor will it be flinched with Bite.
    • Status moves will still function as normal against Venomoth, so you’re still able to use moves like Hypnosis or Thunder Wave.
  • Crobat is Will’s most offensively oriented Pokémon. Unlike his other Pokémon, Crobat will focus on dealing direct damage instead of inflicting Poison. It also has access to Double Team which increases its Evasion.
    • The same strategy you used on Muk should also work here, except you must use Psychic-type moves as Crobat is immune to Ground.

#3: Battling Bruno

Bruno’s team is pure Fighting-type, except for Onix. He will test your team’s effectiveness against Physical Attackers.

Pokémon Level Type Ability Held Item Moveset

Hitmontop (♂)
Lv. 42 Fighting Technician
Powers up the Pokémon’s weaker moves.
  • Dig
  • Counter
  • Triple Kick
  • Quick Attack

Hitmonlee (♂)
Lv. 42 Fighting Reckless
Powers up moves that have recoil damage.
  • Hi Jump Kick
  • Blaze Kick
  • Focus Energy
  • Swagger

Hitmonchan (♂)
Lv. 42 Fighting Iron Fist
Boosts the power of punching moves.
  • ThunderPunch
  • Ice Punch
  • Fire Punch
  • Bullet Punch

Onix (♂)
Lv. 43 Rock/Ground Sturdy
The Pokémon is protected against 1-hit KO attacks.
  • Sandstorm
  • DragonBreath
  • Rock Slide
  • Earthquake

Machamp (♂)
Lv. 46 Fighting No Guard
Ensures both Pokémon’s and foe’s attacks land.
Sitrus Berry
  • Revenge
  • Cross Chop
  • Rock Slide
  • Foresight

Some things to note about Bruno’s team:

  • Bruno focuses on all-out offense. Bruno’s Pokémon do not have any disruptive moves, unlike the first two we’ve fought. They will all be focusing on dealing a lot of damage very quickly.
  • Bruno’s damaging moves are all Physical. You should set up Reflect to significantly reduce the amount of damage you take from his attacks.
  • Bruno’s Pokémon are mostly pure Fighting-type. Flying- and Psychic-type moves will deal super-effective damage against his team except for Onix, which is Rock/Ground.
  • Most of Bruno’s Pokémon have high Special Defense. If you don’t have any super-effective moves, make sure to use Physical moves except against Onix and Hitmontop.
  • Bruno has one Full Restore. Like the previous two, Bruno only has one Full Restore. You can trick him into healing his less threatening Pokémon by intentionally dropping them to critical HP without knocking them out. This way, his stronger Pokémon won’t get healed later on.

Depending on your Pokémon’s Speed stats, your strategy should either be:

  1. Tanking Bruno’s attacks to be able to retaliate
  2. Or knocking his Pokémon out before they can attack you

Offensively and defensively, Psychic-type Pokémon will be your best pick against Bruno because his team has coverage moves against Flying-, Bug-, and Poison-type Pokémon.

Slowbro is a great choice against Bruno, sporting both good bulk and Special Attack. It also has access to Curse, which will increase your Defense and Attack at the cost of lowering your Speed.

Xatu is also a decent choice since it only takes ¼ damage from his STAB-Fighting moves.

Bruno’s Hitmontop using Counter against Xatu. / Pokémon HeartGold
Bruno’s Hitmontop using Counter against Xatu.

Here is a rundown of Bruno’s Pokémon, their individual strategies, and how you might go about some of the more problematic ones:

  • Hitmontop can use Counter to return Physical damage to you. Counter returns twice the damage it took from Physical attacks, which can be deadly if you dealt a lot of damage but failed to knock it out.
    • Avoid using Physical Attacks against Hitmontop to prevent it from using Counter.
    • You could also try to use Reflect while Hitmontop is out as it is not as strong as his other Fighting-types.
    • Note: Although Hitmontop has high Special Defense, it is still recommended to use Special moves against it due to it having access to Counter.
  • Hitmonlee deals insane damage with Hi Jump Kick. Hi Jump Kick has 100 Base Power. When combined with STAB, Hitmonlee’s 120 Base Attack and its Ability Reckless, Hi Jump Kick will likely one-shot your Pokémon if it Crits.
    • You must not allow it to use Focus Energy, as it will significantly increase its Critical chance.
    • If Hi Jump Kick misses, it will deal large amounts of recoil damage to Hitmonlee. Try using Protect or Detect to guarantee that Hi Jump Kick misses.

Hitmonlee is Bruno’s fastest and arguably most dangerous Pokémon, next to Machamp. Its Ability Reckless makes moves that have recoil deal 20% more damage.

To balance out its incredible offense, Hitmonlee has a very mediocre Defense Stat. A super-effective Physical move will be your best counter against it.

Hitmonlee using Hi Jump Kick against Typhlosion / Pokémon HeartGold
Hitmonlee using Hi Jump Kick against Typhlosion.
  • Hitmonchan has a wide variety of coverage moves. It also has the Ability Iron Fist, which increases the damage dealt with punching moves by 20%. Hitmonchan only has punching moves which means that all its moves will get boosted
    by its Ability despite not having STAB.
Hitmonchan using ThunderPunch against Lapras / Pokémon HeartGold
Hitmonchan using ThunderPunch against Lapras.

Note: Bullet Punch is a priority move, like Quick Attack.

  • Onix is a Pure Physical Wall. Onix is Bruno’s only non-Fighting-type Pokémon. It is also his weakest in terms of offense. Any super-effective Special move should easily take care of it.
    • Tip: Onix is not that big of a threat to your team, so try to revive and restore your Pokémon once Bruno sends it out!
  • Machamp’s attacks will always hit. Bruno’s Machamp has the Ability No Guard, which allows all attacks dealt and received to ignore Accuracy checks. This causes its moves Rock Slide and Cross Chop to always hit, despite them having less than 100% Accuracy.
    • No Guard also causes moves that normally miss a lot to always hit against Machamp. You can punish its low Speed by using strong, low Accuracy moves like Thunder or Blizzard, or even put it to sleep with status moves like Hypnosis or Sleep Powder.
    • Tip: One-hit KO moves like Guillotine or Sheer Cold will always hit Machamp, so use them if you can!
Lapras hitting Machamp with Thunder / Pokémon HeartGold
Lapras hitting Machamp with Thunder, a low Accuracy move.

#4: Battling Karen

Karen specializes in Dark-type Pokémon, but she also uses Poison-types for this battle.

She combines offense, defense, and disruption in her team.

Pokémon Level Type Ability Held Item Moveset

Umbreon (♂)
Lv. 42 Dark Synchronize
Passes a burn, poison, or paralysis to the foe.
  • Double Team
  • Confuse Ray
  • Faint Attack
  • Payback

Vileplume (♀)
Lv. 42 Grass/Poison Chlorophyll
Boosts the Pokémon’s Speed in sunshine.
  • Stun Spore
  • Petal Dance
  • Acid
  • Moonlight

Murkrow (♀)
Lv. 44 Dark/Flying Super Luck
Heightens the critical-hit ratios of moves.
  • Sucker Punch
  • Faint Attack
  • Pluck
  • Whirlwind

Gengar (♀)
Lv. 45 Ghost/Poison Levitate
Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.
  • Focus Blast
  • Destiny Bond
  • Spite
  • Lick

Houndoom (♀)
Lv. 47 Dark/Fire Flash Fire
It powers up Fire-type moves if it’s hit by one.
Sitrus Berry
  • Nasty Plot
  • Dark Pulse
  • Flamethrower
  • Crunch

Some things to note before battling Karen:

  • Karen’s strategy mixes offense, defense, and disruption. Her AI is also better than the other Elite Four, as she will attempt to telegraph your moves and switch out of unfavorable matchups if possible.
  • Karen’s Pokémon all have relatively high Special Defense. You should use Physical moves to maximize your damage against Karen’s Pokémon.
  • Not all of Karen’s Dark-type Pokémon are weak to Bug. Despite being Dark-type, Murkrow and Houndoom are only hit neutrally by Bug-type moves due to their secondary typing.
  • Not all of Karen’s Pokémon have Dark-type moves. Vileplume and Gengar are not Dark-type and they do not have any Dark-type moves as well.

Steel- or Fighting-type Pokémon will be good against Karen, as they resist most of her offensive move pool.

For coverage, we suggest having Psychic- and Ice-type moves.

Karen’s Umbreon using Payback / Pokémon HeartGold
Karen’s Umbreon using Payback.

Here is a rundown of Karen’s Pokémon, their individual strategies, and how you might go about some of the more problematic ones:

  • Umbreon is a pure Physical and Special Wall. It will attempt to stall out your team by stacking Evasion buffs with Double Team and Confusing your Pokémon with Confuse Ray.
    • The same strategy you used against Koga’s Muk should also work for Umbreon. However, it may be much more effective to spam STAB-Fighting-type moves until they hit, as neutral hits will not deal a lot of damage against it.
    • Because of how bulky it is, Karen will most likely use her only Full Restore on Umbreon, unless you can force her to switch out.
  • Vileplume will Paralyze your Pokémon before dealing massive damage. Vileplume will always attempt to use Stun Spore first if your Pokémon does not have a status condition before attacking with STAB Petal Dance. If it survives using Petal Dance for several turns, it will heal itself with Moonlight.
    • Fire- and Flying-types will resist Vileplume’s Petal Dance and can deal super-effective damage in return. Electric- and Grass-type Pokémon can also be used, as they are immune to being Paralyzed by Stun Spore.
    • Using Rain Dance, Hail or Sandstorm will significantly reduce the amount of health that Vileplume will recover from Moonlight.
Vileplume recovering HP with Moonlight / Pokémon HeartGold
Vileplume recovering its health with Moonlight.
  • Murkrow has a very strong priority move, Sucker Punch. It is much stronger than most other priority moves like Quick Attack, but it fails if the opponent does not choose an attacking move. Murkrow also has Whirlwind, which is a decreased priority move that forces you to switch to a random Pokémon in your party.
    • You can try baiting out Sucker Punch by using Status moves or Recovery Items instead.
    • Whirlwind resets any Stat changes that you may have set up, so make sure to quickly deal with Murkrow if your team relies on setting up a sweep.
    • Since it is partly Flying-type, Murkrow is not weak to Fighting and Bug despite also being Dark-type. Instead, you should use Electric-, Rock-, and Ice-type moves against it.
Murkrow using Whirlwind / Pokémon HeartGold
Murkrow using Whirlwind.
  • Gengar will deplete the PP of your moves with Spite. It will occasionally use Focus Blast to deal damage, but most of the time it will be using Spite. When it’s about to faint, it will always use Destiny Bond if it outspeeds your Pokémon.
    • Destiny Bond only has 5 PP, so you should try to waste all its PP first before attempting to faint it.
Gengar using Destiny Bond / Pokémon HeartGold
Gengar using Destiny Bond on Umbreon.
  • Houndoom will try to sweep if you cannot outspeed it. Houndoom is a little slower than Gengar but has high Attack and Special Attack Stats. It will use Nasty Plot to try and set up a sweep if you are unable to outspeed it. You must knock it out before they are able to stack enough boosts to wipe your team.
    • Do not use Fire-type moves against Houndoom. Due to its Ability Flash Fire, it is not just immune to Fire-type moves, but it also powers up its own Fire-type moves if hit by one.
    • Don’t be afraid to use Battle Items like X Speeds before fighting Houndoom if your Pokémon’s Speed stat is not enough to overcome that of Houndoom.
    • You can also use Rain Dance to halve the damage dealt by Fire moves and power up Water-type moves.
Houndoom using Nasty Plot / Pokémon HeartGold
Houndoom using Nasty Plot.

After defeating Karen you’ll progress to the final challenge of the main game:

The League Champion, Lance.

Crumble Thorn

20 articles

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.

View Writer's Posts →