Which Pokémon is the best starter choice for your Scarlet or Violet Nuzlocke?
Which starter you pick is the first decision you make when starting a new Nuzlocke in any region, and it’s also one of the most important. This is especially true in Scarlet and Violet, where the replacement of routes with massive open areas means there’s a huge amount of unpredictability in which encounters you get, so your starter may be one of the only reliable Pokémon you have for the first few hours of the game.
Luckily, all three of your options in Paldea are useful, strong Pokémon, but there’s definitely one that stands head and shoulders above the others. Let’s start our ranking at the bottom, with our third-place Pokémon:
#3 – Quaxly
Third place in our Paldea starter rankings goes to Quaxly, the Water-type Pokémon.
Quaxly isn’t a bad Pokémon by any means, but there are a few factors holding it back from ranking higher in our list.
First, it doesn’t get a type advantage against any of the early gyms, and since there’s such a wide variety of possible encounters in Scarlet and Violet’s early areas you may not be able to guarantee yourself the right Pokémon to help with these battles. This can make the early game more challenging than it would be otherwise, especially since Quaxly is weak to the second and third Gyms (Grass and Electric-types).
It’s not all bad news for the Water-type line though – Quaxly’s final evolution, Quaquaval, becomes a powerful Water/Fighting-type with high Attack and great Speed, and a good movepool to take advantage of that typing. You still need to be careful with its average defensive stats, and its signature move, Aqua Step, is somewhat redundant (it boosts Speed, which is nice, but Quaquaval is fast enough to move first most of the time anyways) but it’ll be a valuable member of your team.
Placing the Quaxly line third shouldn’t be seen as a slight – we’ve just listed some of the things that make it a great Pokémon in the later game – but its lack of favorable matchups against powerful opponents, especially early, and its less useful signature move make it the least exceptional of three great Pokémon.
#2 – Sprigatito
The Sprigatito line earns second place in our rankings, just barely beating out Quaxly.
Like Quaxly, Sprigatito doesn’t enjoy any early-game type advantages – in fact, it’s weak to the Bug-type first Gym, and doesn’t enjoy an advantage until the Water-type fourth Gym. Its stat spread is similar too, with slightly worse bulk and physical Attack, but significantly higher Speed.
So what earned Sprigatito, and its evolution, Meowscarada, the second spot?
Well, mostly its signature move, Flower Trick. It only has a Base Power of 70, compared to Aqua Step’s 80, but it has two advantages – it never misses, and it always lands a critical hit. This means Flower Trick’s 70 Base Power is actually much higher in practice, plus it always ignores the opponent’s stat boosts or your own stat drops – and never missing means you never have to worry about accuracy-lowering effects or abilities.
It’s also worth noting that Meowscarada’s Grass/Dark typing gives it an immunity to Psychic-type attacks, which can be a useful tool for clever players with experience pivoting.
Between its excellent signature move and its convenient typing, Sprigatito does just enough to beat out Quaxly for the number two spot. However, our remaining starter Pokémon has both of them beat, so it’s time to talk about…
#1 – Fuecoco
Fuecoco is the best starter for your Pokémon Scarlet or Violet Nuzlocke challenge.
Let’s talk about why.
First off, Fuecoco’s type advantage against the first two Gyms (Bug and Grass-type) is more valuable than ever since your first few encounters can be so inconsistent. Countering these early Gyms is the most important thing we need Fuecoco to do, but its evolution, Skeledirge, is no slouch against mid and late-game opponents either, having some form of type advantage against the Normal, Psychic, and Ice-type Gyms as well, though by that point you’ll have a more well-rounded team and Skeledirge won’t have to do it all on its own anymore.
Besides the early type advantage, the Fuecoco line has some other flashy traits – its amazing stats, typing, and movepool. Skeledirge’s stat distribution is excellent – it has great bulk, especially on the physical side (extra helpful in a permadeath challenge like a Nuzlocke), high Special Attack, and its only relevant weak stat is its Speed. Good thing, then, that Skeledirge learns Flame Charge, which boosts its Speed and mitigates this weakness! Its Fire/Ghost-typing is great offensively, and also gives it an immunity to Normal-type moves, making it a great pivot.
Then there’s Skeledirge’s signature move, Torch Song. It’s an 80 Base Power, 100% accurate Fire-type move which raises the user’s Special Attack every time its used, and Skeledirge learns it as soon as it evolves at level 36! Boosting its speed with Flame Charge and then using Torch Song to get stronger every turn allows Skeledirge to become an unstoppable sweeper, singlehandedly clearing entire Gyms and trivializing otherwise tough fights even into the very late-game.
For all these reasons, Fuecoco gets the prize as our top pick for a starter in your Pokémon Scarlet or Violet Nuzlocke!
Thanks for reading. Let us know in the comments if you agree or disagree with our rankings, and check out our other tier lists and starter rankings for your favorite Pokémon games! And for more Nuzlocke content, including guides, tips, and articles, check out our Nuzlocke University Guides and Articles section. Happy Nuzlocking!