A Nuzlocker’s Guide to the Psyduck Line

Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1

The Kanto region is full to the brim with good options for Water-type Pokémon, including amazing options like Lapras, Vaporeon, and Blastoise. As a result, the Duck Pokémon is often overlooked if not completely forgotten about. However, don’t be fooled by its uninteresting design and typing; Golduck is versatile and powerful. It also has access to Calm Mind and has just enough bulk to set up. Golduck gets some interesting coverage options, too. Its pure Water-typing gives it only two weaknesses, both of which are rare and therefore easy to play around.


Psyduck: (FireRed only) Route 4 (Super Rod, rare), Route 6 (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Route 10 (Super Rod, rare), Route 11 (Super Rod, rare), Route 12 (Super Rod, rare), Route 13 (Super Rod, rare), Route 19 (Super Rod, rare), Route 20 (Super Rod, rare), Route 21 (Super Rod, rare), Route 22 (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Route 23 (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Route 24 (Super Rod, rare), Route 25 (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Berry Forest (rare; surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Pallet Town (Super Rod, rare), Viridian City (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Cerulean City (Super Rod, rare), Vermilion City (Super Rod, rare), Fuchsia City (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare), Cinnabar Island (Super Rod, rare), Seafoam Islands (B1F & B2F: common; B3F & B4F: uncommon; surfing, rare; Super Rod, rare), Safari Zone (surfing, common; Super Rod, rare).

Golduck: (FireRed only) Berry Forest (surfing, rare), Cape Brink (rare; surfing, rare), Seafoam Islands (B1F: rare; B2F: uncommon; B3F & B4F: uncommon; surfing, rare; Super Rod, rare).

Psyduck’s Match-ups in Important Battles

Psyduck/Golduck versus Erika in Celadon City Gym: Psyduck can handle Tangela with Ice Beam, but it can’t switch into it or beat Erika’s lead. Therefore, Psyduck should not be used in this gym. However, Golduck can theoretically solo this gym if you bring healing items. Vileplume/Victreebel’s Giga Drain will hurt, but they take massive damage from Ice Beam and won’t recover enough to avoid the 2HKO. On the other hand, this strategy is unavailable to those using level caps. A Fire- or Flying-type Pokémon is generally better for this gym, though. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 29/33; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Screech (Psyduck)/Psych Up (Golduck).

Golduck versus Koga in Fuchsia City Gym: Golduck’s Surf is enough to deal with the Koffing, and those with Damp don’t need to worry about them exploding anyway. Muk can be annoying with Minimize, but Surf is a 3HKO. Golduck can also use Psych Up to turn Muk’s evasion against it. Weezing will go down after two or three Surfs, but Smokescreen can be annoying. Bring healing items if you want Golduck to sweep (which is very possible). Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Psych Up.

Golduck versus Fighting Dojo in Saffron City: Three Surf attacks will down Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee, but Hitmonlee’s High Jump Kick could cause problems. However, it tends to use Mind Reader or Focus Energy first, and Golduck can usually tank a critical hit High Jump Kick. It may be faster, though. Hitmonchan isn’t as much of a threat. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Psych Up.

Golduck versus Rival in Silph Co.: Pidgeot and Exeggcute fall to Ice Beam, which is a 2HKO and an OHKO, respectively. Gyarados is annoying, but it can’t dish out serious damage to Golduck. Growlithe falls easily. However, Intimidate will prevent you from fighting Blastoise, who can only be hurt by Brick Break. While this can be remedied by switching out and coming back in, you’ll likely have a faster, more efficient way of defeating Blastoise. Venusaur must be avoided; Razor Leaf hits too hard for comfort and has a high critical hit ratio. Charizard is 2HKOed by Surf, and Wing Attack can only 4HKO in return. Note that Charizard is likely faster; don’t let Golduck health get below half. Alakazam is difficult to deal with thanks to Calm Mind, but Golduck can copy the boosts and Surf is a natural 2HKO. However, a strong physical attacker is a safer bet; critical hits will ignore Golduck’s Special Defense boost and Alakazam will likely have several Calm Minds under its belt if Golduck goes down. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 39; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Psych Up.

Golduck versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Nidorino is easy to deal with thanks to Surf, and Rhyhorn is a slow joke. Nidoqueen can 4HKO with Body Slam, but Surf 2HKOs in return. Be on the lookout for paralysis hax, though. Kangaskhan can be 3HKOed with Surf, but keep Golduck’s health high as Kangaskhan’s Mega Punch takes a huge chunk with a critical hit. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 39; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Psych Up.

Golduck versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: Golduck can only take on Sabrina’s Pokémon with the help of a strong neutral physical attack, the best of which is Strength. Otherwise, Mr. Mime and Kadabra’s Calm Mind will be too much of a threat as it reduces Surf’s power. Fortunately, Golduck isn’t exactly strapped for move slots. Both Surf and Strength will 2HKO Kadabra, but use Strength to bypass Calm Mind’s Special Defense boost. However, Kadabra can also set up its Reflect, so switch to Surf if it does so. Surf or Strength will 2-3HKO Mr. Mime, but it may be best to let something stronger handle that. You won’t like it when Mr. Mime passes a Calm Mind boost to Alakazam, so don’t give it the time to do so. Venomoth doesn’t have Calm Mind, and it’s 2HKOed by Surf. The only thing to watch out for is Supersonic, provided Golduck’s HP isn’t too low. Alakazam is very dangerous as it’s faster and can do more damage with its Psychic. Let something like Snorlax or Flareon handle it. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 40; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Strength.

Golduck versus Blaine in Cinnabar Island Gym: Golduck’s pure Water-typing and access to Calm Mind makes it a perfect counter to Blaine. Arcanine is normally 2HKOed by Surf, but it’s an easy OHKO with just one Calm Mind boost. Growlithe falls to one Surf (you can’t set up on Growlithe due to Roar). Ponyta and Rapidash are easy to set up on, so grab a boost and OHKO everything Blaine has. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 45; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Calm Mind.

Golduck versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: Grab a Calm Mind boost against Giovanni’s lead, Rhyhorn, then sweep with Surf. Everything is OHKOed after a boost, but watch out for Dugtrio, who is faster and 3HKOs with Earthquake. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 47; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Calm Mind.

Golduck versus Rival in Route 22: If you have healing items, Golduck can safely get to +3 Special Attack and Special Defense. After that, Pidgeot, Rhyhorn, Exeggcute, Charizard, Growlithe, Alakazam, and Venusaur will be OHKOed by Surf or Ice Beam. Gyarados can be 2HKOed with Ice Beam. Blastoise can’t do anything to Golduck and Surf should 3HKO. Keep your healing items handy though; Golduck can only take out a few of your Rival’s Pokémon without them. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 48; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break, Calm Mind.

Golduck versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 60; Surf, Ice Beam, Brick Break/Hydro Pump, Calm Mind.

Golduck versus Lorelei: Golduck can lay off set-up sweeping in this battle if you have something else to beat Slowbro. If you want Golduck to sweep, set up a pair of Calm Mind boosts against Cloyster or Dewgong. Brick Break is a likely 2HKO on Dewgong, who can only hurt Golduck by setting up Hail. Brick Break is better than Surf against Dewgong even at +2, so it’s better to use Calm Mind against Cloyster (who is OHKOed by Surf at +2). Surf is also a likely OHKO on Jynx at +2 (2HKO otherwise). Lapras is immune to Surf and Ice Beam will do a pitiful amount of damage, and Brick Break is a 3HKO. It may be best to let a team member handle Lapras though, especially if Golduck is low on health. Surf is usually a 2HKO on Slowbro at +2, but it can annoy Golduck with Yawn or Amnesia (or both). If you have a more appropriate counter for Slowbro, it’s best to simply forego set up in this battle. Otherwise, just set up to +2 on Cloyster.

Golduck versus Bruno: Bruno’s first Onix is a joke, but its Roar prevents it from becoming set-up bait. Just OHKO it with Surf. Bruno’s second Onix is much better set-up bait, but Hitmonchan or Hitmonlee will come out first. Use Calm Mind twice against Hitmonchan or Hitmonlee (preferably Hitmonchan) if you have no access to healing items; use it three times if you have healing items. The latter strategy requires healing items to be viable. It also allows Golduck to OHKO all of Bruno’s remaining Pokémon. Without set-up, Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan are 2HKOed while Machamp is 3HKOed. Set-up is needed to sweep; a critical hit Cross Chop from Machamp spells death for the Duck Pokémon.

Golduck versus Agatha: Agatha’s lead is incredibly annoying, but it can’t seriously hurt Golduck. Double Team and Confuse Ray extend the battle and Toxic puts you on a timer (but can be healed, if possible), but a pair of Calm Mind boosts allow Goluck to sweep Agatha. Keep those Full Restores handy, though. Remember that Golduck must be woken immediately if Haunter or Gengar lands a Hypnosis; Nightmare and Dream Eater are constant threats.

Golduck versus Lance: Golduck can grab a pair of Calm Mind boosts against Lance’s lead, Gyarados, and sweep most of Lance’s team from that point forward. Bring healing items, though. The aforementioned Gyarados is 2HKOed most of the time after a pair of boosts (get to +3 for a guaranteed 2HKO), the dragons are beaten by Ice Beam after a boost, and Aerodactyl is beaten by Surf after a boost. Be wary of Aerodactyl’s Hyper Beam though; it’s a 2HKO.

Golduck versus the Champion: Pidgeot can’t be used as set-up bait thanks to Whirlwind, so hit it with Ice Beam. Rhydon simply hits too hard to be used as set-up bait; drown it. Alakazam can’t set up alongside Golduck as it lacks Calm Mind, so it can theoretically be used as set-up bait. However, a critical hit Psychic kills. Future Sight can cause some problems if it comes right after a Psychic. Tread very carefully. The Fire- or Water-types are likely better set-up bait. However, your Rival’s Exeggutor is likely to be sent out before any of these Pokémon. Golduck can set up on both Blastoise and Gyarados, but keep Golduck’s health bar above half. Arcanine can use Roar, so either 2HKO with Surf or OHKO at +1 (assuming you grabbed a boost against another Pokémon). Golduck also requires at least one boost if you want to land the OHKO on Charizard. The aforementioned Charizard would be great set-up bait, but it will almost certainly come out last. The Grass-types can’t be handled without some Calm Mind boosts (two for Exeggutor and three for Venusaur).

Everything in Between

Mid- to Late-Game: Bird trainers are easy pickings for Golduck who carry Ice Beam, but Psyduck is a lot frailer than Golduck. Tread with caution, and don’t forget that Dodrio and Fearow carry Pursuit. Cycling Road is dangerous, but a strong Golduck carrying Surf should be able to handle it. Golducks that lack Calm Mind and/or a neutral move like Strength will be walled by most Water-types, so keep that in mind when considering putting Golduck in front when you’re on a water route. Keep Golduck away from the Power Plant, but it can handle the Pokémon Mansion.

Checks and Counters

Bulky Grass-types: Grass-types that can tank an Ice Beam will be able to hit Golduck with a lot of force, so a teammate of the Flying- or Fire-typing is recommended. In return, Golduck can wash away those pesky Rock-types.

Water-types: Water- and Ice-type coverage is great, but Golduck will often be walled by Water-types without a few Calm Mind boosts. Fortunately, those very same Water-types won’t do too much to Golduck. Golduck can also utilize Strength or Brick Break to circumvent this. It’s still a good idea to keep a good Grass- or Electric-type around. In return, Golduck beats Fire- and Ground-types.

Phazers: Pokémon carrying Roar or Whirlwind (including Bruno’s lead and the Champion’s Pidgeot) can remove Golduck’s Calm Mind boosts. This isn’t something that Golduck can’t handle on its own (as it can beat almost all of these threats one-on-one), but you must be aware of who can erase Golduck’s boosts.

Overall Grade: B

Psyduck itself isn’t much to write home about; it comes pretty late and isn’t very useful on its own. However, its evolution, Golduck, is versatile and potentially incredibly powerful. Its pure Water-typing is both a blessing and a curse; it doesn’t have a secondary STAB, causing it to be overshadowed by the likes of Lapras and Starmie, but it also retains its resistance to Fire-type moves as well as just two rare weaknesses. Golduck, like most Pokémon, has its drawbacks, but you’ll regret it if you underestimate the Duck Pokémon.

Resources to Utilize

Golduck’s Learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/golduck/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.