Pokémon Black and White introduced players to the Unova region, and, for the first time in series history, a brand new Pokédex with no returning Pokémon from previous games. Because of this, Black and White present a unique experience – and a unique challenge – for would-be Nuzlockers. The fresh Pokédex means players can’t rely on experience from other games about which Pokémon are most useful, and instead have to build a brand new knowledge base. To help, I’ve put together this tier list ranking obtainable Pokémon, using information gathered from my own experiences and from community consensus and discussion about this fan-favorite generation. This should help give new and experienced players a baseline, and will hopefully help you to understand which Pokémon in Black and White are strong contenders for your team slots – and which should be left in the box.
Note that for this tier list, we’ve considered Hardcore Nuzlocke level cap rules, using a level cap of 54 from the final Ghetsis fight. This means Pokémon which evolve after Level 54 will be placed in the “Level Cap Conflict” tier, as they are not obtainable using these rules. If you’re not using level caps for your run, rest assured, these Pokémon (Hydreigon and Volcarona) are excellent and absolutely deserving of a team slot if you’re able to acquire them. Their unevolved forms have been ranked separately on this tier list. Also note that certain Pokémon, including legendaries, are not included.
Here’s the tier list! Explanations for each tier’s criteria are below.
S-tier: These Pokémon have excellent typing, stats, and movepools, and have good matchups against important opponents in both the early game (if available) and the late-game. They are capable of single-handedly clearing portions of the game, regardless of team composition. They have few significant flaws, and should be used almost without question if the player can obtain them. These Pokémon are the star of an effective team, and the rest of the team members should be chosen to support and compliment them.
A-tier: These are strong Pokémon with great typing, stats, and movepools, who can provide good offensive and defensive presence to a team. They have generally good matchups against important opponents in either the early or the late-game, or they perform an important niche role better than any other Pokémon. They may not be as individually dominant as an S-tier Pokémon, but they are powerful core members of a balanced and effective team.
B-tier: These are useful Pokémon with generally good typing and stats, but they may have a shallow movepool, be lacking in a key stat, or simply be outclassed by a similar Pokémon in a higher tier. Many B-tier Pokémon provide either good offensive or defensive presence, but not necessarily both. They may have good matchups against important opponents, but may also have severe weaknesses to common or dangerous foes. They are useful for fulfilling a specific role, and can find a place on an effective team, despite one or two significant flaws.
C-tier: These are Pokémon that may have reasonably good stats, typing, and movepools, but may also be lacking in two of these categories. These Pokémon typically have somewhat limited usefulness, but can be valuable in the right situation. Many of these Pokémon have stats that do not compliment their typing well, lack important moves in their type, or are only useful for a limited section of the game, but a thoughtful player can build around their significant flaws and include one or two of these Pokémon on an effective team, provided the player does not ask too much of them.
D-tier: These Pokémon have generally poor stats or typing or are crippled by a bad ability or other severe weakness. These Pokémon offer little to a team, and should be avoided unless no other options are available, or a player desperately needs a Pokémon of a particular type for a difficult battle. Effective teams will generally not use these Pokémon, except in very specific, limited roles.
E-tier: These Pokémon are prohibitively bad, having poor stats, typing, and movepools, or otherwise are completely outclassed by multiple similar Pokémon. They should be replaced as soon as possible, and players should avoid using them, even in situations where they have a type advantage. These Pokémon will not be found on effective Nuzlocke teams.
That concludes our Pokémon Black and White Nuzlocke tier list! Do you agree with our rankings? Tier lists are not an exact science, and in a game with as many variables as Nuzlocking it can be difficult to assign a Pokémon definitively to a single tier. I hope you find this useful the next time you tackle the Unova region!