Ranking the Best Starter Pokémon in Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are here! These remakes of the Generation 4 games Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are quite faithful to their predecessors, with minor changes such as quality-of-life updates, the Grand Underground, and the addition of the Fairy-type shaking things up a little bit. While we’ve previously put together a guide for Nuzlocking Pokémon Platinum which contained our starter rankings for that game, we decided to create an updated version for the remakes. It’s worth noting that Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are specifically remakes of Diamond and Pearl, and as such do not contain content or Pokémon from Platinum version, so while that guide will still be useful, there are some differences players should be aware of.

For some general tips on how to select the best starter Pokémon in any generation , check out our four tips for choosing the right starter Pokémon. Read on to get specific advice for picking your starter in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Starter Ranking

1. Chimchar

Chimchar repeats as the strongest starter Pokémon in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, holding onto its top spot from the original games. Without the Platinum dex, Fire-types are once again extremely rare in these games, with only Rapidash and possibly Houndoom (depending how you handle the Grand Underground) available. This makes Chimchar the hardest of the three starters to find a suitable replacement for. As well, Fire/Fighting is as powerful an offensive typing as ever, and when paired with Infernape’s great, well-balanced Physical and Special Attack stats, makes it a devastating and flexible attacker capable of sweeping large portions of the game. An early first evolution and the ability to learn Power-Up Punch at just Level 12 make it powerful in both the early and late game. Take care to play around its mediocre defensive stats and pair it with bulky teammates, and Infernape will provide you with the firepower you need to successfully complete your Nuzlocke challenge!

2. Piplup

Piplup takes second place, but only barely, for reasons we’ll get into later on. The main advantage of the Piplup line is its Water/Steel-typing, which is amazing defensively (especially paired with Empoleon’s solid defensive stats) and also provides good offensive STAB coverage. Actually, its Steel-typing is even better in BD/SP than in the original Sinnoh games because of the addition of the Fairy-type. Relatively early access to Surf via TM provides it with a very spammable STAB move, and a type-advantage against the first Gym never hurts either. So with these advantages, why was it so hard for us to award it second place in our rankings? Piplup suffers from a similar phenomenon as many other Water-type starters, which is that there is an abundance of other great Water-type Pokémon available, most notably Gyarados, who is available extremely early in BD/SP, is a guaranteed encounter, and is stronger than ever in these games thanks to learning Waterfall at Level 21. So while Empoleon’s only major weakness is its low Speed stat, the availability of other strong Water-types makes it the easiest of the three starters to replace. Regardless, Empoleon’s unique typing and solid stats make it a perfectly viable choice as your starter in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

3. Turtwig

Third place in our rankings goes to Turtwig, although as we mentioned, choosing between this Pokémon and Piplup was difficult. While we feel that Empoleon is the stronger Pokémon in a vacuum due to its typing and balanced stats, it’s more easily replaceable, and so all things considered a player might decide to take Torterra for its more unique role as a bulky attacker with great utility. Regardless, we had to pick a second and a third place, and we feel this ranking accurately reflects the relative strengths of each starter.

Torterra has three major strengths – its high defensive stats, the ability to learn Earthquake at Level 32, and natural access to Synthesis, Leech Seed, and other strong utility moves such as Curse. Its typing is unique, but not particularly advantageous, as Grass-typing is rather weak both offensively and defensively. While Ground-typing does improve its offensive potential, the combination is still average. Also, many dangerous Pokémon in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are capable of exploiting Torterra’s quad Ice-type weakness, limiting its usefulness during portions of the late-game. Its low Speed is a mixed bag – it will rarely move first, but this allows it to use Curse to boost its physical stats without worrying about the Speed drop (it was probably already slower anyway). Overall, Torterra’s best role is as a bulky setup attacker with the ability to sustain and restore its HP, and it excels in this niche, but it’s simply outshined by Infernape’s firepower and Empoleon’s incredible typing.

That concludes our ranking of the starters in a Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl Nuzlocke. We know that in most cases, all three starter Pokémon in a given generation will be viable, and the value of these lists is as much in discussion and analysis as it is in picking a “best” starter. Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know your thoughts, and be sure to check out our Guides and Articles section for more rankings, tier lists, and tips. If you’re interested in tackling the original Sinnoh region, take a look at our Pokémon Platinum tier list for advice on which Pokémon to build your team around, and check out our Pokémon Platinum Nuzlocke Guide and Tips to for all the information you need to complete the run. Happy Nuzlocking!


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