Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1
Nidoran♂, to an unsuspecting Nuzlocker, may not seem like much. A small, weak-looking, pure Poison-type rabbit creature that’s available early in the game and possesses a base stat total of 273 sounds less like a potentially powerful teammate and more like a Pokémon that should be quickly boxed along with your Route 1 bird and early-game rodent. However, Nidoran♂ will soon grow into the fearsome Nidoking, who is a force to be reckoned with from the point you evolve it to the very end of the game. One of the main reasons for its dominance is its versatility; it is quite literally the king of TMs and has the stats to use almost every single one of them to great effect. As a Nidoking, it learns over sixty percent of the TMs in the game, including both Thunderbolt and Ice Beam. Furthermore, there is only a handful of steps between the first area where you can catch a Nidoran♂ and the location of the Moon Stone, which allows Nidorino to evolve. There isn’t any good reason to hold off evolving Nidorino, either, so you can have a fully-evolved Pokémon by the time you reach Cerulean City. Nidoking’s expert combination of early-game availability, great mixed attacking stats, and an incredibly wide movepool gives it all the tools it needs to be an effective member of just about any team.
Nidoran♂: [FireRed only] Route 3 (uncommon), Safari Zone (all areas, uncommon).
Nidoran♂: [LeafGreen only] Route 3 (rare), Route 5 (trade, requires Nidoran♀), Underground Path 5-6 (trade, requires Nidoran♀), Safari Zone (East and West area, rare).
Nidorino: [FireRed only] Safari Zone (all areas, uncommon).
Nidorino: [LeafGreen only] Route 11 (trade, requires Nidorina), Safari Zone (Center and North area, rare).
Nidoran♂’s Match-ups in Important Battles
Nidorino/Nidoking versus Rival on Nugget Bridge: You should at least have a Nidorino by this point, and it should be fully evolved unless you’re waiting for Horn Attack, which isn’t necessary. Nidoking is much more useful in this battle than Nidorino. Your Rival will send out Pidgeotto first, who isn’t much of a threat to Nidoking but could be problematic for Nidorino. The Drill Pokémon can set up Focus Energy and begin spamming Double Kick (still, be wary of Sand Attack), but the Poison Pin Pokémon doesn’t do that much more damage than Pidgeotto’s Gust or Quick Attack can. If you have a Nidorino and not a Nidoking, it’s best to use something else for Pidgeotto if you can. As for your Rival’s Abra, it’s a complete pushover for either Nidorino or Nidoking. Furthermore, both the Poison Pin Pokémon and the Drill Pokémon, barring serious prior injury, can handle Rattata with Double Kick. Nidorino must be wary of Hyper Fang, which is a possible 3HKO. As for your Rival’s starter, Nidoking, in particular, can handle any of them, even Squirtle, although it will help to have set up a prior Focus Energy. Also, if Nidoking has been hurt, Squirtle’s Water Gun can pose a threat. You may need a back-up plan or healing items. (Note that Bulbasaur resists Double Kick, so use Peck instead.) On the other hand, Nidorino, if hurt, should only fight Bulbasaur since it can’t deal much damage to a Poison-type. Both Squirtle and Charmander, however, can pose a threat, and Charmander may even be faster than Nidorino. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 17; Leer, Peck, Focus Energy, Double Kick.
Nidorino/Nidoking versus Misty in Cerulean City Gym: For this gym, it may seem like a good idea to hold off on evolving Nidorino so that it isn’t weak to Water-type attacks, but it turns out that Nidorino isn’t much more useful than Nidoking here. In fact, Nidoking will be more useful against Misty’s Staryu, which is probably the only Pokémon that either Nidorino or Nidoking can face. Staryu’s Water Pulse is a 4HKO on Nidorino and a 3HKO on Nidoking, but the Drill Pokémon can outspeed and 2HKO with Double Kick or Dig. The Poison Pin Pokémon, on the other hand, is slower than Staryu and can only 3HKO. However, neither can stand up to Starmie, who possesses (ironically) blazing Speed and can 2HKO and 3HKO Nidoking and Nidorino, respectively, with Water Pulse. Neither the Drill Pokémon nor the Poison Pin Pokémon can put up much of a fight in return, even if you have Thrash/Horn Attack already. All in all, Ivysaur, Oddish, or Bellsprout are all more appropriate counters for this gym. Even those that chose Charmander should have a better option, such as Beedrill. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 21; Peck, Focus Energy, Double Kick, Dig.
Nidoking versus Rival on S.S. Anne: Nidoking, being fully-evolved, does very well against your Rival in this battle. For Pidgeotto, both Double Kick (note that you can set up Focus Energy first if you so choose) and Horn Attack will result in a 3HKO. Thrash, if you have it, is a likely 2HKO, but you don’t want to get locked into it, at least not this early in the fight. Furthermore, Nidoking can annihilate Raticate with a Double Kick. Don’t worry about Hyper Fang since it won’t hurt the Drill Pokémon that much. Kadabra, on the other hand, can stand up to Nidoking since Confusion is a possible 3HKO (and might be a 2HKO). Nidoking can 2HKO with Dig, Horn Attack, or Thrash, but it’s rather risky. Unless Kadabra puts your team in dire straits, only use Nidoking if it’s both healthy and already in battle. Nidoking can still handle any of your Rival’s starters, but you may want to use something else for Wartortle if you have a better counter (perhaps Oddish/Bellsprout). Due to Nidoking’s Dig, Charmeleon is a pushover. In fact, it may fall to a single Dig. Wartortle will fall to three rounds of Dig, which should do more damage than Water Gun. As was noted, use a more appropriate counter if you have it. Nidoking can defeat Ivysaur, if need be, with three rounds of Thrash or Dig. Nidoking also happens to be immune to Poison Powder and takes little from Vine Whip. However, Leech Seed damage can rack up quickly, so be wary. If you have a better counter for Ivysaur, such as a Flying-type Pokémon, feel free to use it instead of Nidoking. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 22; Focus Energy, Double Kick, Dig, Horn Attack/Thrash.
Nidoking versus Lt. Surge in Vermilion City Gym: Nothing in this gym can pose a significant threat to Nidoking, bar none. Simply spam Dig and win the badge. The Drill Pokémon completely steamrolls over Voltorb; the only thing that will save Pikachu is luck with evasion since Nidoking’s Dig is strong enough to finish Pikachu two times over. Raichu will meet a similar fate as it can only hurt Nidoking with Quick Attack. To repeat, all Nidoking must do is spam Dig. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 23; Focus Energy, Double Kick, Dig, Horn Attack/Thrash.
Note: At this point in the game, you’ll have access to both the Game Corner and the Celadon City Department Store. As such, it is the perfect time to decide on Nidoking’s final moveset as it will likely be composed mostly of TMs from this area. Nidoking is incredibly versatile, which makes it difficult to pick out a set. To make the best possible decision, look at the rest of your team and (arguably more importantly) Nidoking’s nature. You’ll want Nidoking to avoid having overlapping coverage and cover the types your team is weak to. Furthermore, Nidoking can utilize a special, physical, or mixed moveset, which is mostly dependent on its nature. If your Nidoking has a nature that increases the Attack stat (i.e. Brave, Naughty, Adamant, or Lonely) or a nature that decreases the Special Attack stat (i.e. Jolly, Careful, Impish, or Adamant), then the physical moveset will likely be the most appealing. On the other hand, if your Nidoking has a nature that increases the Special Attack stat (i.e. Quiet, Rash, Mild, or Modest) or decreases the Attack stat (i.e. Timid, Calm, Modest, or Bold), then the special moveset will likely be best. Also, note that a mixed set can work with any nature except for Adamant and Modest. Whichever you choose, know that a recommended special, physical, and mixed moveset will be given in this analysis.
Nidoking versus Rival in Pokémon Tower: It’s highly recommended that you begin fleshing out Nidoking’s moveset before initiating this battle, which means a trip to the Game Corner and possibly the Celadon City Department Store. In the battle itself, either Rock Slide or Ice Beam/Thunderbolt will 2HKO Pidgeotto, who isn’t much of a threat. Furthermore, Nidoking will annihilate Exeggcute with a single Ice Beam, but note that Shadow Ball will require two hits. Exeggcute can hurt Nidoking with Confusion, but this is only a problem if your Nidoking is at less than two-thirds of its maximum health and also lacks Ice Beam. However, Gyarados may cause an issue for physical Nidoking, whose Attack will be lowered by Intimidate. Nidoking’s Rock Slide is then a possible 3HKO whereas special and mixed Nidoking’s Thunderbolt is a likely OHKO. Also, be wary of Gyarados’ Thrash, which is likely a 4HKO. On the other hand, Intimidate can’t save Growlithe; Nidoking can 2HKO with Dig despite the decreased Attack. As for Kadabra, it can be scary if your Nidoking is slower or has been considerably weakened by the rest of your Rival’s team. Also, only a Nidoking with Shadow Ball should attempt to defeat Kadabra, who can 3HKO with Confusion. Be wary of critical hits. As for your Rival’s starter, (for those who chose Bulbasaur) Nidoking can easily 2HKO Charmeleon thanks to Dig. Wartortle, on the other hand, is slightly more difficult to defeat since its Water Gun does about as much damage as Exeggcute’s Confusion. Nevertheless, if your Nidoking has Thunderbolt, you can fry Wartortle without too much trouble. Otherwise, a more appropriate counter should handle Wartortle. Similarly, Ivysaur will fall easily to Nidoking’s Ice Beam. If you’re running physical Nidoking, then Dig will 3HKO Ivysaur, but you likely have another Pokémon that can defeat Ivysaur more efficiently. All in all, Nidoking will be fantastic in this battle no matter the set it’s running, which will become a theme for the remainder of the game. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 25; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Giovanni in the Celadon Game Corner: Whichever set you’re running, Nidoking can be useful here. Giovanni will lead with Onix, who isn’t too threatening. If you have Ice Beam, Nidoking can OHKO Onix. If not, then Dig a 2HKO, and Brick Break is a 3HKO. Onix’s attacks are pitiful, so don’t worry about it hurting Nidoking. Similarly, the Drill Pokémon can easily OHKO Rhyhorn with Ice Beam. Nidoking can also 2HKO with either Brick Break or Dig, and Rhyhorn doesn’t have any way to increase its Defense stat, unlike Onix. However, for those who don’t have Ice Beam, note that chip damage and/or Rhyhorn’s Scary Face/Tail Whip can trivialize Nidoking’s chances of defeating Kangaskhan. The Drill Pokémon could be slower than the Parent Pokémon, which is problematic as both can 3HKO each other. Nevertheless, Nidoking will be perfectly fine fighting Kangaskhan if you can use healing items. (You’ll probably want a back-up plan anyway.) However, if Nidoking is slower and you can’t use healing items, then Kangaskhan is likely too much to handle. Also, note that Nidoking can only 3HKO Kangaskhan with Brick Break. Nidoking’s Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, and Dig will all result in a 4-5HKO on Kangaskhan, making the fight much more difficult. Tread lightly. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 28; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Erika in Celadon City Gym: Physical Nidoking should probably stay away from this gym, but both Mixed and Special Nidoking are excellent options here. Ice Beam (or Flamethrower) will mow down Erika’s Grass-types, but Physical Nidoking’s Dig isn’t nearly as useful. Nevertheless, Physical Nidoking doesn’t have any clear disadvantages here, so it can be useful if you lack a Flying- or Fire-type Pokémon. However, Erika’s Pokémon will be constantly trying to heal themselves, which will make it very difficult for the Drill Pokémon to accomplish anything. Mixed and Special Nidoking, on the other hand, can 2HKO Victreebel and Vileplume with Ice Beam/Flamethrower and can effortlessly OHKO Tangela with the same move. However, Victreebel’s Stun Spore and Vileplume’s Sleep Powder may be annoying, so bring status healing items if you can use them. Furthermore, if Vileplume goes straight for Giga Drain, you may need an extra Ice Beam/Flamethrower to take it down. All in all, don’t use Physical Nidoking here unless you have to, but Mixed/Special Nidoking is a superb choice. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 29; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Koga in Fuchsia City Gym: This is another battle in which Mixed/Special Nidoking does better than Physical Nidoking. All variants of Nidoking would need some guts to face a Koffing, who can OHKO the Drill Pokémon with a critical hit Selfdestruct. However, if you have nothing better to face Koffing, then Nidoking can 2HKO with Ice Beam/Thunderbolt or 3HKO with Shadow Ball. Muk, who can only hurt Nidoking with Sludge, is easier for the Drill Pokémon to defeat. Nidoking’s Dig is probably a 2HKO. However, Muk will try to stall out Nidoking with Acid Armor and Minimize. Bring X Accuracies and X Attacks if you can use them. (An alternative to using X Attacks is switching to a special move after Muk has used Acid Armor, but this isn’t an option for Physical Nidoking.) Again, Muk’s best attack is Sludge, which Nidoking can tank all day long, so the Sludge Pokémon is more annoying than threatening. Similarly, Weezing can only use Sludge and Tackle, so Nidoking can easily 3-4HKO with Ice Beam/Thunderbolt. (However, Physical Nidoking must use Shadow Ball instead and will probably need to be healed during this match-up.) Due to possible chip damage, you may need to heal Nidoking, and you’ll also want a back-up plan ready to go. Nevertheless, Nidoking makes a solid Koga counter. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus the Fighting Dojo in Saffron City: Nidoking is an excellent choice for the Fighting Dojo since it resists Fighting-type moves. Against the leaders Hitmonlee, Nidoking can easily 2-3HKO with Dig since the Kicking Pokémon’s Defense stat is pitiful. Moreover, Hitmonlee may even miss High Jump Kick while Nidoking is underground, which will make it easier for Nidoking to win. Even if High Jump Kick lands, it is a meager 5HKO. Furthermore, the Drill Pokémon can 3HKO Hitmonchan with Dig or 4HKO with Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, or Flamethrower. Hitmonchan’s Ice Punch comes off of its worthless Special Attack stat, so the move is only a 5HKO. Barring a critical hit, Nidoking can brush Ice Punch off. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Rival in Silph Co.: Like most battles, Nidoking is great to use here. Pidgeot can be annoying with Feather Dance and its Wing Attack is a 5HKO, but Nidoking can 2HKO it with either Rock Slide or Thunderbolt/Ice Beam. Pidgeot shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for Nidoking to handle, but, if you need Nidoking to face another Pokémon, use a better counter if you have one. As for your Rival’s Exeggcute, avoid switching Nidoking in on a Confusion, which is a possible 3HKO, if you can. Nevertheless, Nidoking’s Ice Beam is a probable OHKO on Exeggcute, and Shadow Ball is a 2HKO. Against Gyarados, who lacks Water-type moves, Nidoking can 2HKO with Thunderbolt. The only move the Drill Pokémon must watch out for is Dragon Rage, so make sure Nidoking has more than 40 HP. (Neither Bite nor Twister should finish a Nidoking with exactly 41 HP, even with a critical hit, so don’t worry about either of those moves.) Furthermore, Nidoking can 2HKO Growlithe with either Dig or Rock Slide, even after Intimidate. Both Flame Wheel and Take Down will result in a 5HKO, so keep that in mind. As for Alakazam, it might seem like Nidoking should avoid it, but its only attack is Future Sight, which takes a few turns to land and doesn’t take type match-ups into account. As such, Future Sight is a mere 4HKO, but be wary of it if Alakazam has accrued Calm Mind boosts or if Nidoking is in range of being knocked out by a critical hit. Shadow Ball is a likely OHKO; Nidoking should avoid using Dig, which gives Alakazam the chance to set up Calm Mind or use Reflect. Stick to Shadow Ball, and, if you don’t have it, then leave Alakazam to a teammate. (Given Alakazam’s lack of viable attacking moves, there are quite a few Pokémon that can handle it with ease anyway.) Charizard, on the other hand, is dangerous for Nidoking. Charizard’s Flamethrower is likely a 2HKO, and Nidoking isn’t guaranteed to OHKO with Rock Slide. Also, for those who lack Rock Slide, Thunderbolt is only a 2-3HKO. To top it off, Charizard is very likely to be faster. It’s best to leave Charizard for a more appropriate counter to handle. Nidoking, ironically, has a much better chance of defeating Blastoise, whose best Water-type move is the rather weak Water Gun. Nidoking is likely faster and can 3HKO Blastoise with Thunderbolt, but be careful: Blastoise can 3HKO with Water Gun in return. If your Nidoking has to switch in or has sustained chip damage from your Rival’s other Pokémon, both of which are likely scenarios, then you’ll almost certainly need healing items. Of course, if you have a better counter for Blastoise, such as a Vileplume or a Victreebel, then there’s no need to risk Nidoking’s life here. Lastly, if your Rival has a Venusaur, Special and Mixed Nidoking is well-equipped to battle it. Either Flamethrower or Ice Beam will result in a 3HKO whereas Venusaur can only 4HKO in return with Razor Leaf. However, keep in mind that Razor Leaf has a high critical hit chance, and Nidoking probably has taken quite a bit of chip damage at this point. Keep an eye on Nidoking’s health. Also, for those who are using Physical Nidoking, it’s best to leave Venusaur to a more appropriate counter. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 39; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Giovanni leads with Nidorino, who isn’t much of a threat. A single Dig may be enough for Nidoking to net the OHKO. If your Nidoking has Ice Beam, then Rhyhorn will go the same way. (If your Nidoking lacks Ice Beam, then Dig is a likely 2HKO.) Like Nidorino, Rhyhron can’t do much to Nidoking as it lacks Ground-type moves. Furthermore, a Nidoking with Brick Break can handle Kangaskhan without too much trouble. Nidoking’s Brick Break will likely net a 2HKO on the Parent Pokémon. Special Nidoking (and some variants of Mixed Nidoking) may also be able to handle Kangaskhan, but it will likely require some healing since Thunderbolt/Ice Beam/Flamethrower will likely result in a 4HKO, the same as Kangaskhan’s Mega Punch. Furthermore, as long as Nidoking isn’t hurt too much or if you have healing items, the Drill Pokémon can handle Nidoqueen pretty easily. Either Dig or Ice Beam will result in a 2-3HKO whereas Nidoqueen’s Body Slam is a likely 5HKO. Nevertheless, be wary of paralysis. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 40; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: As a Poison-type Pokémon, it seems wise to keep Nidoking away from Sabrina. Nevertheless, while Nidoking probably can’t be a dedicated counter to Sabrina, the Drill Pokémon can still be useful in this battle if it has Shadow Ball. However, this also means that Special Nidoking should avoid Sabrina’s Pokémon (except maybe Venomoth). Still, even Physical and Mixed Nidoking should avoid Sabrina unless your team’s main counter gets into a sticky situation. (Although, if you don’t have a counter, your team is susceptible to Alakazam, who Nidoking can’t hold a candle to.) Kadabra is probably faster than Nidoking and can 2HKO with Psybeam, but Nidoking can also annihilate the Psi Pokémon with a single Shadow Ball. Nonetheless, be wary of critical hits as well as Reflect. Only a healthy Nidoking who is already in battle (if you’re on Switch Mode or your Nidoking was faster than Sabrina’s Kadabra) can stand up to Mr. Mime. Most likely, the Drill Pokémon will be faster than Mr. Mime (unless your Nidoking is exceptionally slow) and can 2HKO with Shadow Ball (an OHKO isn’t likely unless your Nidoking has a very good Attack stat). Mr. Mime, like Kadabra, can 2HKO with its Psybeam, which is why only a healthy Nidoking will stand a chance. As for Venomoth, Nidoking can 2HKO with Flamethrower or 2HKO with Dig whereas Venomoth can only 3-4HKO in return with Psybeam. Still, as usual, be wary of critical hits. However, Nidoking hits a wall at Alakazam; the Psi Pokémon will annihilate its adversary with Psychic, even if Mr. Mime didn’t manage to Baton Pass the menace some Calm Mind boosts. Unless you set up a prior X Attack as well as an X Speed and Reflect isn’t active (a scenario that is still rather risky), Nidoking is hopeless against Alakazam. Bring a Shadow Ball Flareon or Snorlax to this showdown. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 41; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Dig/Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Blaine in Cinnabar Island Gym: Two of Blaine’s Pokémon have Intimidate, which means Special Nidoking is likely the most useful variant of Nidoking in this battle. At this point, you should have taught Surf to Special Nidoking. Mixed Nidoking is also a candidate for Surf since you won’t need to have Dig against Giovanni or Blaine if the Drill Pokémon is packing Surf. On the other hand, despite the presence of both Growlithe and Arcanine, both Physical and Mixed Nidoking can be of use here. Also, know that most Water-type Pokémon are going to be much more useful than the Drill Pokémon in this battle regardless. After a single Attack drop, Nidoking can still 2HKO Growlithe with Dig or Rock Slide (the latter is only recommended if you’re feeling lucky). Surf, on the other hand, is a likely OHKO coming from Nidoking. Growlithe’s Fire Blast is a 3HKO, so it will take a significant chunk of Nidoking’s health. However, Growlithe probably won’t be on the field long enough to cause a serious problem, even if it tries to annoy you with Roar. (Although, that would honestly be beneficial to both Physical and Mixed Nidoking, who would have their Attack stats restored.) Nidoking is also likely to take out Ponyta with a single use of Surf or two uses of Dig (if Nidoking’s Attack is still down by one stage; Dig should be a clean OHKO otherwise). Ponyta’s Fire Blast is slightly weaker than Growlithe’s, being a 3-4HKO. Nevertheless, keep an eye on Nidoking’s health and be wary of critical hits. Rapidash is significantly more difficult to handle, especially if Nidoking is hurt, but the Drill Pokémon can still 2HKO with either Surf or Dig. Nevertheless, be wary of Rapidash’s Fire Blast, which is a 3HKO, especially if Rapidash happens to be faster. You may need to heal Nidoking or switch it out at this point. However, Arcanine is very tough for Nidoking to handle. Arcanine can 2HKO the Drill Pokémon with Fire Blast and has Intimidate to lower Nidoking’s Attack. Furthermore, Nidoking’s Surf isn’t even a guaranteed 2HKO, and Dig does significantly less damage than Arcanine’s Fire Blast once Intimidate is in play. It’s best to face down Arcanine with a good Water-type, preferably one that is bulky and resists Fire-type moves. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 45; (Physical) Dig, Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball; (Special) Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Dig/Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: Similar to the battle with Sabrina, Nidoking is weak to this gym’s main type, but the Drill Pokémon can still be useful if need be. However, unlike the battle with Sabrina, Giovanni is rather easy to counter with just about any of the region’s Water-types. As such, only use Nidoking here if you have to. Also, even Physical Nidoking should have learned Surf at this point, even if it’s just for fighting Giovanni. The Drill Pokémon almost requires either Surf or Ice Beam (preferably the former) to stand up to Giovanni’s Rhyhorn. Moreover, Dig cannot be used in this battle under any circumstance; every Pokémon on Giovanni’s team knows Earthquake, which doubles in power when the opponent is underground. Since Dig won’t be helpful and Surf will be the exact opposite, even Physical Nidoking should know Surf. (This isn’t necessary if you have a better counter for Giovanni, though.) Either Surf or Ice Beam will annihilate Giovanni’s first Rhyhorn, who is too slow to pose a threat. Giovanni’s Dugtrio, on the other hand, is likely faster than the Drill Pokémon. The Mole Pokémon can 2HKO Nidoking with Earthquake as well, which means there is a one in sixteen chance that the Drill Pokémon will fall to a single attack. Bring a Flying-type in if you can; Dugtrio can only harm Flying-type Pokémon with Slash. However, if you’re feeling lucky, you could attempt to land a Surf or an Ice Beam on Dugtrio, which will likely result in an OHKO, but this is not recommended. Giovanni’s Nidoqueen and his own Nidoking will fall to a pair of Surf/Ice Beam attacks from your Nidoking. Again, all of Giovanni’s Pokémon know Earthquake and this move will 2HKO your Drill Pokémon. Use a better counter, if possible. Lastly, there is the matter of Giovanni’s ace, which is another Rhyhorn. Nidoking can net the OHKO with Surf for sure and possibly with Ice Beam as well. However, Rhyhorn’s Earthquake will result in a 2HKO, so you’ll probably need to be either on Switch Mode or avenging a death to pull this off. All in all, Nidoking doesn’t do very well against Giovanni, but it can certainly be useful if you lack a Water-type Pokémon. However, it’s likely not worth the risk (Nidoking is rather useful against the Elite 4, so you want it to be there) and Water-types are a dime a dozen. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 48; (Physical) Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball, Surf/Dig; (Special) Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower; (Mixed) Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break.
Nidoking versus Rival in Route 22: Any of Rock Slide, Ice Beam, or Thunderbolt will 2HKO Pidgeot, who might be slower and can only 5HKO in return with Wing Attack. However, Physical and Mixed Nidoking should be wary of Feather Dance, which lowers the Attack stat by two stages. Rhyhorn is easy pickings with Surf or Ice Beam. Nidoking’s Earthquake may also get the job done, but it’s not as likely. Nevertheless, know that Rhyhorn has Horn Drill, which makes it risky for Nidoking to switch in on it. As for Exeggcute, the Drill Pokémon should easily net the OHKO with Ice Beam whereas Shadow Ball is a 2HKO. Exeggcute can only attack with Solar Beam, which is a two-turn attack that can only net the 3HKO at best, so Nidoking has nothing to fear from it. Furthermore, Nidoking is faster than your Rival’s Gyarados and Thunderbolt should net the OHKO. However, the Atrocious Pokémon’s Hydro Pump is a 2HKO on Nidoking and may OHKO if it’s raining. If you have a better counter for Gyarados, use it. As for Growlithe, Nidoking should net the OHKO with either Surf or Earthquake. The Puppy Pokémon can do little in return unless Nidoking’s health is low. Alakazam, on the other hand, is probably too much for Nidoking to handle; the Psi Pokémon is faster and may OHKO with Psychic. Nidoking might be able to OHKO with Shadow Ball, but it probably won’t live long enough to use it anyway. Keep Nidoking away from Alakazam. Nidoking should also avoid Charizard, who is faster and can 2HKO the Drill Pokémon with Flamethrower. Moreover, Nidoking can’t even OHKO Charizard with Rock Slide. On the other hand, Nidoking can go toe-to-toe with Blastoise if the Drill Pokémon has Thunderbolt and its health is full. (A Nidoking low on health and/or Physical Nidoking should avoid the Shellfish Pokémon.) Nidoking’s Thunderbolt should 3HKO Blastoise, who should be slower and can only 3HKO with Water Gun in return. However, healing items might be needed for safety reasons, and Nidoking might need to turn tail and run if Blastoise uses Rain Dance, which turns Water Gun into a 2HKO. Lastly, Nidoking can handle Venusaur without too much trouble unless the Drill Pokémon has accrued a significant amount of chip damage (but that can be solved with healing items if you have them). Nidoking can 3HKO with Ice Beam whereas Venusaur is slower and can only 4HKO in return. Be wary of critical hits, though, especially since Razor Leaf has a higher chance of landing critically. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 49; (Physical) Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball, Earthquake/Surf; (Special) Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower/Earthquake; (Mixed) Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break, Earthquake/Surf.
Nidoking versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 59; (Physical) Rock Slide, Brick Break, Shadow Ball, Earthquake; (Special) Surf, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Flamethrower/Earthquake; (Mixed) Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball/Brick Break, Earthquake/Surf.
Nidoking versus Lorelei: Given Nidoking’s weakness to Ice- and Water-type moves, it may seem like a terrible idea to use it against Lorelei. However, as can be seen throughout the rest of the game, the Drill Pokémon tends to stick its horn into places where it doesn’t belong, and Nidoking is also capable of getting away with it. Nevertheless, Nidoking should sit on the bench for most or all of this match unless your main counter either faints or never was on the team in the first place. Against Dewgong, both Nidoking’s Brick Break and its Thunderbolt should net a 2HKO. Dewgong can also 2HKO, but it may only net the 3HKO and it is almost certainly slower. Also, note that Dewgong is liable to set up Hail on its one turn of life, which will chip away at Nidoking’s health for a few turns. Still, Nidoking may have taken either quite a bit of damage from a super-effective STAB move or some chip damage from Hail when Lorelei sends out her next Pokémon, which is likely Cloyster, who provides Nidoking a chance to be healed (if you can use healing items). The Bivalve Pokémon’s only attacking move is Dive, which is a 3HKO on Nidoking. The Drill Pokémon is likely faster and can finish Cloyster with either three rounds of Brick Break/Rock Slide or a single Thunderbolt. On the other hand, Slowbro can pose a significant threat to Nidoking; a critical hit from Slowbro’s Surf will be the end of the Drill Pokémon, who is likely low on hit points anyway. Nidoking’s Thunderbolt is a 2HKO, but Slowbro is also likely to use Amnesia, which would make Thunderbolt a 3-4HKO. Furthermore, Slowbro’s increased Special Defense stat would make it so that a Thunderbolt following a previous one may not finish the Hermit Crab Pokémon. Also, if Nidoking lacks Thunderbolt, it will have a tough time doing anything against Slowbro. The Drill Pokémon’s next-best attack is Shadow Ball, which is probably a 3HKO (a 2HKO is possible, but very unlikely and not worth the risk). Use Nidoking against Slowbro at your own risk. The same holds for Jynx; either Nidoking’s Shadow Ball or Rock Slide should be a clean OHKO although Jynx can 2HKO in return with Ice Punch. Lastly, pitting Nidoking against Lapras is unfeasible; Lapras can easily 2HKO the Drill Pokémon with either Surf or Ice Beam. Nidoking is indeed likely faster, but it can only 3HKO. All in all, using Nidoking against Lorelei’s Lapras is rather risky.
Nidoking versus Bruno: Thanks to its Poison-typing, Nidoking can be rather useful against Bruno. However, the different variants of Nidoking are useful at very different times. Both Bruno’s first and second Onix will have Earthquake, but Special and Mixed Nidoking can still handle them without too much difficulty since Surf/Ice Beam will result in an OHKO. Using Nidoking’s Earthquake is also feasible, but it almost certainly won’t OHKO. Still, know that Onix’s Earthquake isn’t much of a threat compared to that of Nidoking; Onix’s Earthquake can only result in a 3HKO and should be going after Nidoking’s. Furthermore, Nidoking can easily shrug off all of Hitmonchan’s attacks. However, Hitmonchan has access to Counter and can lower the Drill Pokémon’s Speed with Rock Tomb. Physical Nidoking should switch out to avoid Hitmonchan’s Counter, but both Special and Mixed Nidoking can 3-4HKO with a special attack like Thunderbolt or Ice Beam. On the other hand, Physical Nidoking can safely dispose of Hitmonlee, who can only 3HKO with the inaccurate Mega Kick. Earthquake is a 2HKO. Hitmonlee has the same base Special Defense and HP stat as Hitmonchan, so the likes of Thunderbolt and Ice Beam will be dealing the same amount of damage they would’ve against Hitmonchan. This wasn’t an issue then, but it becomes potentially problematic against Hitmonlee, whose Mega Kick is stronger. However, as was mentioned, Mega Kick has only a three in four chance to hit, so it’s only an issue for a healthy Nidoking if it’s particularly unlucky. Machamp is a similar story. Using Cross Chop, the Superpower Pokémon can only 4-5HKO at best, but it can also take more hits. Nidoking’s Thunderbolt/Ice Beam/Flamethrower is a 4HKO whereas Earthquake is a 2-3HKO. However, the latter will do less and less damage as Machamp uses Bulk Up and the former may paralyze or burn Machamp and activate Guts (just stick to Ice Beam if you have it). Finally, be wary of Cross Chop’s high critical hit ratio. As always, keep an eye on Nidoking’s health.
Nidoking versus Agatha: This is possibly the best match-up in the Elite 4 for Nidoking, but you’ll want both Shadow Ball and Thunderbolt/Ice Beam. As such, Mixed Nidoking should sweep Agatha rather easily as long as the number of the Drill Pokémon’s hit points is kept out of dangerously low ranges. The Poké Flute and/or some Full Heals will be crucial in this battle, though; Agatha’s Haunter knows Dream Eater and her ace can use Nightmare. If you cannot use items in battle, then have a safe switch-in. Agatha’s first Gengar is annoying with Double Team and Confuse Ray, but its Shadow Punch is a joke and, thanks to Nidoking’s Poison-typing, Gengar’s Toxic is ineffective. The Drill Pokémon’s Shadow Ball should be a 2HKO, but this probably won’t come swiftly. One of Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Flamethrower, or Surf will result in a 3HKO on Gengar, which is also feasible. These moves will also 2HKO Agatha’s Haunter, but Shadow Ball will be more effective as it should be a clean OHKO. Again, Haunter’s Dream Eater is a threat, so keep your Nidoking awake. Similarly, Nidoking can easily 2HKO Golbat with either Thunderbolt/Ice Beam or Rock Slide. As for Arbok, Nidoking should at least 2HKO it with Earthquake, even after Intimidate. Like the rest of Agatha’s Pokémon, Arbok can’t do much to Nidoking. Even Agatha’s ace does a pathetically low amount of damage; its Shadow Ball is a 4-5HKO. Still, you may need to heal Nidoking due to chip damage and Gengar will also try to put the Drill Pokémon to sleep. Nidoking’s Shadow Ball is a 2HKO and its special attacks should result in a 3HKO, so spam any of those moves until you need to heal, awaken Nidoking, or switch out.
Nidoking versus Lance: Given how useful Thunderbolt and Ice Beam are against Lance, both Mixed or Special Nidoking will serve you better than Physical Nidoking in this battle. If you’re running a full physical set, then Nidoking almost certainly cannot function as your main counter to Lance. In the case of Lance’s Gyarados, Thunderbolt should be your move of choice. Most likely, the move will result in a 2HKO, but it does have a chance to OHKO. Gyarados may be a Water-type, but don’t fret; it knows no Water-type moves. However, Gyarados may 2HKO Nidoking with Hyper Beam, which means that a critical hit could be fatal. Nevertheless, chances are good that Hyper Beam will not OHKO with a critical hit unless your Nidoking has a noticeably low Defense stat. However, if your Nidoking lacks Thunderbolt, then you might as well use another Pokémon (ideally one that does know Thunderbolt). After Gyarados’ Intimidate, Nidoking’s best physical move, Rock Slide, is both inaccurate and only a 3-4HKO. Nidoking could still take on the Atrocious Pokémon, but its chances of success will be much lower, especially if luck isn’t on your side. In the case of Dragonair, Nidoking should easily 2HKO both of them with Ice Beam. Dragonair’s Hyper Beam is just a 3-4HKO and its Outrage is even more pitiful. As a result, you can easily switch in or heal Nidoking if you need to, especially if Dragonair has been confused from Outrage. Even Physical Nidoking can handle a Dragonair; Nidoking’s Earthquake does almost as much damage as its Ice Beam and should also result in a 2HKO. As for Aerodactyl, its Hyper Beam is only a 3HKO. As long as Nidoking is healthy, it can easily 2HKO Aerodactyl with Rock Slide or Thunderbolt/Ice Beam/Surf. Still, note that Aerodactyl is ludicrously fast and will almost certainly outspeed the Drill Pokémon. As long as the Drill Pokémon hasn’t taken too much damage, it can also handle Lance’s Dragonite. A Hyper Beam from Dragonite will hit Nidoking very hard, though; it’s a likely 2HKO and a critical hit could be fatal. Nidoking should probably only fight Dragonite with Ice Beam, which should result in a 2HKO, even after Dragonite eats its Sitrus Berry. Like Lance’s Dragonair, Dragonite’s Outrage (a 3HKO on Nidoking in this case) may confuse the Dragon Pokémon and give you a chance to heal Nidoking. Also, it is important to note that Nidoking should be faster than Dragonite, but their respective levels and base Speed stats should be close enough that, depending on their natures, Dragonite may be faster.
Nidoking versus the Champion: As per usual, Nidoking can easily dispatch Pidgeot with two rounds of either Thunderbolt or Ice Beam. Rock Slide is also an option; it should result in a 2-3HKO. Pidgeot’s Aerial Ace isn’t too powerful, but Feather Dance can be an issue for Physical Nidoking. On the other hand, Alakazam can obliterate Nidoking with a single use of Psychic, so don’t risk using the Drill Pokémon against the Psi Pokémon. Similarly, Rhydon will annihilate Nidoking with an Earthquake, but the latter is almost certainly faster and can OHKO first with Surf. However, if Nidoking is either not in battle (this doesn’t apply to those who use Switch Mode) or doesn’t have Surf, then you must use a better counter for Rhydon. As for Exeggutor, Nidoking should be able to handle it without too much trouble. The Drill Pokémon’s Ice Beam is a 2HKO and its Shadow Ball is a 3HKO, but you must watch out for Exeggutor’s Light Screen and Sleep Powder. Exeggutor can make the match even more difficult by healing off damage with Giga Drain, which is a 3-4HKO. Nevertheless, Nidoking should come out on top. (Also, don’t worry about Exeggutor’s Psychic-typing; Exeggutor does not have Psychic-type STAB moves.) Furthermore, Nidoking can 2HKO Gyarados with Thunderbolt. However, Gyarados can return the favor with Hydro Pump, which is also a 2HKO. Use another counter for Gyarados, if possible. Arcanine is also difficult for Nidoking to deal with; your Rival’s Arcanine both has Intimidate and can 2-3HKO Nidoking with Flamethrower. Nidoking can 2-3HKO in return with Surf or 2HKO with Earthquake, even after Intimidate. However, Arcanine is probably faster and also has Extreme Speed, so it’s risky to use Nidoking against it. Similarly, it is very unlikely that Nidoking will be able to defeat Charizard, even with Rock Slide. Charizard can 2HKO Nidoking with Fire Blast, which has a much higher chance of doing so than Arcanine’s Flamethrower has. Charizard is also faster than even Arcanine, making a Nidoking victory even more unlikely. Blastoise is even more difficult to defeat; its Hydro Pump may result in an OHKO on Nidoking, who can only 3HKO in return with Thunderbolt. The Drill Pokémon may also struggle against Venusaur, who can use both Sunny Day and Solar Beam (which is a 2HKO). Either Nidoking’s Ice Beam or its Earthquake should result in a 3HKO on Venusaur, but there is still a chance, albeit unlikely, that Venusaur will set up Sunny Day and OHKO Nidoking with a critical hit Solar Beam. Venusaur also has Synthesis and Growth to make it even more difficult for Nidoking to win. You’ll want to use a better counter for Venusaur if you have one. If not, then Nidoking is nevertheless a pretty solid bet.
Everything in Between
Caves and Mountains: In Mt. Moon, Nidoran♂ can be rather useful against any Geodude you may come across thanks to Double Kick. However, later on, only a Nidoking with Surf/Ice Beam should attempt to take on a Geodude or Graveler with Selfdestruct. The Zubat line isn’t too difficult to deal with for a Nidoking with Thunderbolt/Ice Beam or Rock Slide. Nidoking, a Poison-type, can also handle any Fighting-type Pokémon that may show up in caves. However, the likes of Moltres and Articuno should be avoided; they are much too strong for Nidoking to handle. A Water-type is better for facing those legendary birds.
Vermilion City Area: A Nidoking that knows Dig can make short work of the Magnemite/Magneton trainers you’ll find, but be wary of the Drowzee that appear in this area. Also, steer clear of Diglett’s Cave; Nidoking does not want to be on the receiving end of an Arena Trap Dugtrio’s high-roll Magnitude.
Mid- to Late-Game: The Pokémon Tower should be no issue for Nidoking, especially for one that has Shadow Ball. However, the Marowak at the end, who may do a fatal amount of damage to Nidoking, should be avoided. The bird trainers of Kanto are easy enough for Nidoking to deal with, which is true for the trainers on the water routes to some extent. Don’t forget that, despite the Drill Pokémon’s solid bulk and access to Thunderbolt, it’s still weak to Water-type attacks. Don’t push it farther than it can go or you’ll have a dead Nidoking on your hands. Nidoking’s usefulness on Cycling Road is rather hit-and-miss. The Fighting-type Pokémon won’t cause too much trouble, but remember that both Koffing and Weezing can explode. The same can be said of the Koffing found in the Sevii Islands and the Pokémon Mansion, but most of the other Pokémon in these areas can’t stand up to Nidoking. Only the exploding Electrode and the Zapdos in the Power Plant can threaten Nidoking. The likes of Magneton and Pikachu are easy enough to deal with.
Checks and Counters
Psychic-types: There aren’t many Pokémon in the Kanto region that can pose a significant threat to Nidoking, but most of those that can are Psychic-types. Your Rival’s Alakazam and Sabrina’s team come to mind. Psychic-types are difficult to deal with in Kanto, but the likes of Snorlax, Flareon, and Hypno are all great options if they know Shadow Ball. In return, Nidoking can put its wide range of coverage moves to good use to cover the Pokémon that your counter to Psychic-types can’t handle.
Faster, Stronger Pokémon: Again, there aren’t many Pokémon in the Kanto region that can threaten Nidoking, but there is still a handful of Pokémon that are both faster than Nidoking and hit harder than Nidoking’s solid, yet not fantastic, bulk can handle. Your Rival’s Charizard and Sabrina’s Alakazam come to mind. As such, something that can take a lot of hits makes a good pairing with Nidoking. Snorlax, Lapras, Vaporeon, and Golem all fit this description. In return, Nidoking can use its wide range of coverage moves to cover the Pokémon that can out-maneuver or overpower your bulky Pokémon.
Overall Grade: S
As can be seen, Nidoking is a fantastic Pokémon to use in the Kanto region as it is available early, has a ridiculous range of coverage moves as well as the stats to use them, and is dominant throughout most of the game. As such, don’t be so quick to box the Poison Pin Pokémon when you catch it. Nidoran♂ isn’t much, but the sheer power and usefulness of its final evolution make it very worthwhile to train. All in all, Nidoking makes an excellent addition to just about any team, especially those that need Electric- and Ice-type coverage.
Resources to Utilize
Nidoking’s Learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/nidoking/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.