A Nuzlocker’s Guide to the Bulbasaur Line

Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1

Bulbasaur is a Pokémon that will give you a massive advantage in the first two gyms of the Kanto region. Its access to support moves like Leech Seed and Sleep Powder can turn the tide of battle in a pinch, and its typing and base stats make it a challenge to take down. Its secondary typing, Poison, grants it an immunity to being poisoned by Weedle’s Poison Sting. Later in the game, it can utilize Sunny Day and Solar Beam to great effect. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Bulbasaur in the Kanto region. Its lack of a reliable STAB move and a rather shallow attack movepool means that it will have trouble taking down anything when it hits neutrally.

Bulbasaur’s Match-ups in Important Battles

Bulbasaur versus Rival in Oak’s Lab: This battle is as straightforward as always. However, Bulbasaur is at a distinct disadvantage due to its only attacking move, Tackle, which is weaker and less accurate than Charmander’s Scratch. Using Growl is an option to patch this up, but you may have to use your Potion to avoid a loss. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 5; Tackle, Growl.

Bulbasaur versus Rival in Route 22: Bulbasaur is at a distinct disadvantage against your Rival’s Pidgey and Charmander. However, Bulbasaur can utilize its Leech Seed to support your team. One-on-one, Bulbasaur loses this battle without significant grinding. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 7; Tackle, Growl, Leech Seed.

Bulbasaur versus Brock in Pewter City Gym: If Bulbasaur is at level 10, press A to Boulder Badge. Vine Whip decimates Brock’s team. Theoretically, you could grind it up to level 16 to evolve it into Ivysaur, but Bulbasaur is more than capable of defeating Brock at level 10. If you get into a pinch (somehow), use Leech Seed or a Potion to patch up your health. Mankey with Low Kick is another option for this gym, but Bulbasaur is better in almost every way. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 10; Tackle, Growl, Leech Seed, Vine Whip.

Bulbasaur versus Rival on Nugget Bridge: Using Bulbasaur against Charmander or Pidgeotto is a death sentence. Anything barring Butterfree/Beedrill is better for dealing with these two. However, Bulbasaur destroys Abra and Rattata is easy enough to deal with barring crits. Make sure to heal up if Bulbasaur can’t take a critical hit though; if you’re saying “it’ll be okay unless it’s a critical hit”, then it will always be a critical hit. As always, Leech Seed is good to set up. Poison Powder isn’t a good option against Rattata, though; Rattata has Guts. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 15; Leech Seed, Vine Whip, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder.

Ivysaur versus Misty in Cerulean City Gym: This is another case of press A to gym badge. Misty’s Staryu is fast, but it can only really hurt Ivysaur with Water Pulse’s confusion chance. Setting up Leech Seed on Starmie would be helpful, but it has Rapid Spin, which will remove Leech Seed. Sleep/Poison Powder can also be used, but Razor Leaf takes it down much faster anyway. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 22; Leech Seed, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf.

Ivysaur versus Rival on the S.S. Anne: Ivysaur should not be used in this battle. It can be helpful against Raticate (still don’t use Poison Powder due to Guts), but every other member of your rival’s team will rip through Ivysaur. Have a powerful team member handy. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 21; Leech Seed, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf.

Ivysaur versus Lt. Surge in Vermilion City Gym: Ivysaur’s resistance to electric type moves and access to Leech Seed and Poison Powder makes it very useful against Lt. Surge. However, it can’t do the sweeping by itself. Team support, perhaps in the form of Diglett or Nidoking/queen, is required. Leech Seed and Poison Powder will be very helpful in stopping Raichu’s Double Team, and Sleep Powder can be used to bring a team member in safely. However, this should only be utilized in a pinch; a Dig sweep would be much more useful. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 23; Leech Seed, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf.

Ivysaur versus Rival in Pokémon Tower: Charmeleon, Pidgeotto, and Kadabra should be avoided at all costs. Exeggcute is safe to fight, but will only take real damage from Poison Powder. Gyarados won’t be hit too hard due to its neutrality to Razor Leaf, but Leech Seed + Poison Powder can do the job. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 25; Leech Seed, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf.

Ivysaur versus Giovanni in the Celadon Game Corner: Ivysaur fears nothing from Onix and Rhyhorn, Giovanni’s first two Pokémon, but Kangaskhan is a problem. Sleep Powder is rendered useless due to Kangaskhan’s Early Bird, and Mega Punch will poke holes in anything that doesn’t resist it. It’s best to set up Leech Seed and get out. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 27; Leech Seed, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf.

Ivysaur versus Erika in the Celadon City Gym: Ivysaur takes absolutely nothing from Erika’s grass STAB and has an immunity to Poison Powder, making it a solid choice. However, it can only fight back with Secret Power and can’t use Leech Seed on any of Erika’s Pokémon. It’s recommended to ditch Poison Powder in favor of Secret Power (or Return) at this point; it’ll be pretty useless between now and the time you get Toxic. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 29; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus Koga in the Fuchsia City Gym: Ironically, Venusaur has a worse time against the gym trainers than the gym leader. Hypno and Drowzee are common sights among the gym trainers. Koga, on the other hand, can be crippled by Venusaur if need be. Venusaur can comfortably tank Sludge from Koga’s Pokémon, but be wary of critical hits. Both Koffings have Selfdestruct, making them difficult to match up against for anything but Butterfree and Psychic-type Pokémon. Venusaur can switch into Toxic due to its immunity; however, it can’t do much except Leech Seed and/or Sleep Powder for teammates. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus the Fighting Dojo in Saffron City: Venusaur doesn’t fear anything from this “gym” and can even tank elemental punches comfortably. However, Venusaur still doesn’t hit too hard, so this “gym” is better handled by a Psychic- or Flying-type Pokémon. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus Rival in Silph Co.: Venusaur still can’t take on Pidgeot or Charizard, but Gyarados, Exeggcute, and now Alakazam can be handled by it. Gyarados no longer has Thrash and Alakazam’s only attacking move is Future Sight (which doesn’t take type match-ups into account in generation three). Exeggcute is now packing Confusion, but Exeggcute isn’t too strong and Confusion is pretty weak. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Enjoy the memories of the battle with Brock while you demolish Onix and Rhyhorn. However, Nidoqueen and Kangaskhan are more difficult for Venusaur to handle. Setting up Leech Seed and/or Sleep Powder is recommended, but remember that Kangaskhan has Early Bird. These two are better handled by something with super-effective coverage. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 39; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: Do not, for any reason, let Venusaur out of its Poké Ball in this battle or against the gym trainers (and be wary of the mediums who have Destiny Bond Ghost-types). Psychic or Psybeam will decimate Venusaur while it struggles to do damage. Leech Seed could be set up on Venomoth, but it’s a bad idea. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 40; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus Blaine in Cinnabar City Gym: Again, don’t use Venusaur here. I recommended keeping Venusaur away from your Rival’s Charizard for the entire game for a very good reason. Blaine will completely wreck Venusaur. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 45; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf, Secret Power.

Venusaur versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: Venusaur does very well here; Dugtrio and both Rhyhorn fall to your Grass-type STAB of choice. Nidoking and queen will be more difficult, and they are better handled by a strong Water-type. However, they can be dealt with if you set up Sunny Day on Rhyhorn (if you opted for Solar Beam). Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 49; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf/Solar Beam, Secret Power/Sunny Day.

Venusaur versus Rival in Route 22: No to Charizard, Pidgeot, and Alakazam. Rhyhorn is beat by Razor Leaf, but Solar Beam is best with Sunny Day support. Exeggcute and Gyarados fall to Venusaur pretty easily, but the former is only able to be hit with Sleep Powder if Venusaur doesn’t have Secret Power/Return anymore. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Razor Leaf/Solar Beam, Secret Power/Sunny Day.

Venusaur versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 60; Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, Solar Beam, Sunny Day.

Venusaur versus Lorelei: This is a risky endeavor. Sunny Day is difficult to set up with the threat of super-effective Ice-type moves. Venusaur can probably tank one STAB Ice Beam, but can’t pull off the sweep even in the sun due to Lapras and Jynx. Cloyster, Slowbro, and Dewgong can be swept with Sunny Day/Solar Beam, but setting up Sunny Day is risky.

Venusaur versus Bruno: Setting up Sunny Day on Bruno’s Onix is possible, but be wary as it can Roar Venusaur away. Solar Beam works very well in this battle with the sun up. However, it likely won’t be a clean sweep since Venusaur can only OHKO the Onix with Solar Beam. Everything else is a 2HKO. Venusaur is bulky enough to take several fighting type attacks, though, so it can take down a good chunk of Bruno’s team.

Venusaur versus Agatha: Venusaur can’t do anything to Agatha’s Pokémon except Sleep Powder/Leech Seed. On the other hand, Agatha can’t hit Venusaur too hard, but Gengar’s Double Team and Confuse Ray prevent Venusaur from stalling reliably. This is true even if you opt for Toxic since all of her Pokémon are immune.

Venusaur versus Lance: Venusaur’s Leech Seed works well against all of Lance’s Pokémon, but Dragonite/Aerodactyl are packing Wing Attack and Hyper Beam is a constant threat. Don’t let Venusaur’s health get too low. The Dragonair’s can be dealt with even with Solar Beam, but they have Shed Skin and Thunder Wave to ruin Venusaur’s day. Anything with BoltBeam coverage works better than Venusaur in this battle.

Venusaur versus the Champion: Pidgeot, Charizard, and Alakazam are all a definite no-go. Exeggutor has no Psychic-type moves but benefits from Venusaur’s sun and won’t take much from Solar Beam. Gyarados and Rhydon are easy KOs with the sun up, but make sure Exeggutor is out before using Sunny Day.

Everything in Between

Pre-Boulder Badge: Bulbasaur’s immunity to being poisoned makes it an excellent way to deal with early game Weedles. It’ll only really be threatened by wild Pidgey pre-Boulder Badge. Keeping it away from those early game Flying-types is a must, though.

Caves and Mountains: Mt. Moon’s Hikers and wild Geodudes are easily dispatched by Bulbasaur, but Zubats and Rocket Grunts should be handled by another Pokémon if possible. This is pretty much the story in the other caves of the region, too.

Vermilion City Area: Ivysaur can deal with most of the trainers on the S.S. Anne pretty easily due to the abundance of water type trainers. Note that there are a few trainers with birds or Fire-types on the first floor. Diglett’s Cave, however, is dangerous for anything that isn’t a Flying-type. Ivysaur will have super effective STAB for any rogue Dugtrios but might be hit very hard by a Magnitude.

Mid- to Late-Game: Pokémon Tower is not a good idea for Ivysaur to handle; however, the Marowak near the end can be handled pretty easily. The water routes are always a good idea. However, beware of the bird trainers near Fuchsia. The Cycling Road is an even worse idea; Koffing is prevalent and will need to be destroyed immediately by a powerful special attacker or Butterfree. The Pokémon Mansion and the islands are generally a bad idea for similar reasons.

Checks and Counters

Grass-type resists: The Bulbasaur line is easy to counter with anything that resists Grass-type moves, most notably Bug-types and other Grass-types. Your early-game bird will come in handy. Fire-types, while terrible in Kanto, can also counter these Pokémon.

Status-absorbers: Anything that can combat status is a threat to Bulbasaur. Poison-types, Grass-types, and Pokémon with abilities like Early Bird, Immunity, and Insomnia come to mind. Having a Psychic-type or strong offensive Pokémon will be useful to deal with these Pokémon.

Fire-type Pokémon: Fire-types are very dangerous to Bulbasaur, so a Water-type Pokémon is recommended. These Pokémon also appreciate Venusaur’s ability to handle opposing Water- and Electric-types.

Overall Grade: S

Bulbasaur has a lot of issues and struggles to beat much one-on-one in the mid- and late-game, but its support options and early-game dominance are unrivaled. It is an excellent Pokémon to have that will carry your team in the early-game and remain helpful throughout your adventure.

Resources to Utilize:

Venusaur’s learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/venusaur/moves/3

Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1. For questions about this guide or for specific advice for your playthrough, send them a message on Reddit.