Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1
Tentacool is very much like the Pidgey of the seas in that the Jellyfish Pokémon can be found in almost every body of water you can find. Most likely, you’re going to have a Tentacool about five minutes after defeating Koga and gaining the ability to use Surf outside of battle. Now that you have one, it’s time to decide what you’ll do with it. Pokémon that are this common aren’t usually particularly amazing. Some of the best Pokémon in the game have limited availability, such as Snorlax and Lapras, whereas common Pokémon, such as the aforementioned Pidgey and the likes of Rattata, are usable but certainly not particularly amazing. However, don’t be so quick to judge Tentacool; the Jellyfish Pokémon is not a mere Surf slave. It can grow into one of the most fearsome Pokémon in the Kanto region. For the entirety of the game, the only Pokémon that boasts a higher base Special Defense stat than Tentacruel is the legendary Articuno, who still only beats the Jellyfish Pokémon by a measly five base Special Defense. This means Tentacruel can effectively Toxic stall against special attackers and switch in on pretty much any of their attacks. Even super-effective hits may glance off of Tentacruel’s massive Special Defense stat. Tentacruel also boasts an impressive Speed stat, allowing it to outspeed many possible threats. The Jellyfish Pokémon is rather average on its physical side and neither of its attack stats will be anything to write home about, but Tentacruel is nevertheless a fantastic choice of Water-type Pokémon for your journey through the Kanto region.
Tentacool: Route 4 (surfing, common), Route 10 (surfing, common), Route 11 (surfing, common), Route 12 (surfing, common), Route 13 (surfing, common), Route 19 (surfing, common), Route 20 (surfing, common), Route 21 (surfing, common), Route 24 (surfing, common), Bond Bridge (surfing, common), Cerulean City (surfing, common), Cinnabar Island (surfing, common), Kindle Road (surfing, common), One Island (surfing, common), Pallet Town (surfing, common), Treasure Beach (surfing, common), Vermilion City (surfing, common).
Tentacruel: Bond Bridge (surfing, rare), Kindle Road (surfing, rare), One Island (surfing, rare), Treasure Beach (surfing, rare).
Tentacool’s Match-ups in Important Battles
Tentacruel versus Erika in the Celadon City Gym: It is generally advised to keep Water-types out of Grass-types gyms, but Tentacruel is an exception to that rule. With a secondary Poison-typing and a monstrous Special Defense stat, Tentacruel can certainly take some hits from Erika’s Pokémon, especially if your Tentacruel’s ability is Liquid Ooze. Now, if it wasn’t already clear, it is much better to have a Tentacruel as opposed to a Tentacool for this gym battle even though Tentacool evolves at one level higher than Erika’s ace. Since you need to defeat Koga’s gym to use Surf outside of battle, those using a level cap must fight Erika before defeating Koga. As such, those who have a Tentacool available for the battle against Erika can and should evolve it into Tentacruel. Moreover, if you plan to use Tentacruel in this battle, you’ll certainly want it to have Ice Beam, which can be obtained from the Celadon Game Corner. Erika will lead with Victreebel, who can only hope to annoy Tentacruel with Stun Spore. Both of Victreebel’s attacks won’t phase Tentacruel, who can handily 2HKO with Ice Beam. This is achievable even if your Tentacruel lacks Liquid Ooze, which would hurt Victreebel when it used Giga Drain. Furthermore, Tentacruel can outright OHKO Tangela with Ice Beam. If Tangela somehow gets an attack off on Tentacruel, which is probably only possible if Tentacruel switches in, then Tangela is liable to waste its time with Ingrain or use a weak Giga Drain. Tentacruel should still be in tip-top shape or very close when Erika sends out Vileplume. Tentacruel’s Ice Beam is a likely 2HKO. Clear Body variants of Tentacruel may not be able to net the 2HKO if Vileplume can heal off some damage with Giga Drain, but Vileplume can still do little in return. However, Vileplume can annoy the Jellyfish Pokémon with Sleep Powder or Stun Spore, so keep that in mind. Nonetheless, if you have a Tentacruel at this point, it is an excellent choice for this gym. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 30; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Constrict, Protect/Acid.
Tentacruel versus the Fighting Dojo in Saffron City: Tentacruel’s Poison-typing allows it to put in some work here despite its low Defense stat. Still, you likely have a better counter for the Fighting Dojo since Tentacruel can’t do that much damage to Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan. As such, Tentacruel may need to be healed depending on how much chip damage it takes. The Jellyfish Pokémon can tank hits from Hitmonlee, who can only 4-5HKO with Hi Jump Kick. Tentacruel can wear down Hitmonlee with Surf, which should result in a 3HKO. However, be wary of critical hits, especially since Hitmonlee can use Focus Energy. Hitmonchan should be slightly easier to defeat as it will likely go for Thunder Punch instead of its STAB Sky Uppercut, which is stronger. Coming off of Hitmonchan’s terrible Special Attack and landing on Tentacruel’s amazing Special Defense, Thunder Punch can only net a measly 6HKO at best. Hitmonchan’s Sky Uppercut is stronger, but it can only net a 5HKO. (A 4HKO is possible, but you’d need to be incredibly unlucky.) Like the match-up with Hitmonlee, Tentacruel should be able to wear down Hitmonchan with Surf, which is a 3HKO. Again, Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee will be dealing chip damage to the Jellyfish Pokémon throughout the battle, so you may need to heal Tentacruel between your uses of Surf. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 37; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid.
Tentacruel versus Rival in Silph Co.: If you haven’t taught Ice Beam to your Tentacruel yet, then now is the time. Ice Beam enables Tentacruel to be much more useful in this battle. For example, Tentacruel can easily 2HKO Pidgeot with Ice Beam whereas Pidgeot’s Wing Attack should only be a 4-5HKO in return. Exeggcute should go the same way, and its Confusion, despite being super-effective on Tentacruel, does less damage than Pidgeot’s Wing Attack does. Similarly, Tentacruel can easily dispose of your Rival’s Growlithe, although you’d use Surf instead of Ice Beam and it should result in an OHKO as opposed to a 2HKO. As for Gyarados, its most dangerous move is Dragon Rage, but Tentacruel can do little in return. Ice Beam would be Tentacruel’s best move to use against Gyarados, and it should only result in a 5HKO. Gyarados’ Dragon Rage, on the other hand, should be around the range of a 3HKO. Unless Gyarados has already been weakened by another party member, Tentacruel should steer clear. (Speaking of other party members, if you have one that can use Electric-type moves, then that teammate should be used to take down Gyarados.) Generally, it is a good idea to keep Poison-types such as Tentacruel away from powerful Psychic-types like your Rival’s Alakazam, but the Jellyfish Pokémon can take on your Rival’s Psi Pokémon in this battle. Alakazam’s only attacking move is the pitiful Future Sight, which takes several turns to land and doesn’t take types into account. Tentacruel can 2-3HKO with Surf. However, you should switch to Acid (if you have it) if Alakazam gets two or more Calm Mind boosts. If you have both Toxic and Protect on Tentacruel, then you can Toxic stall rather effectively, but Tentacruel does enough damage that it shouldn’t be necessary. Tentacruel can also take on your Rival’s starter without too much trouble, but some match-ups are easier than others. Charizard could be surprisingly difficult for Tentacruel if your Jellyfish Pokémon is low on health or not currently in battle; Charizard can 3-4HKO with Wing Attack. Nevertheless, Tentacruel can 2HKO with Surf, but you may still need to heal your Tentacruel if it gets low on health. As always, watch out for critical hits. Furthermore, you can easily Toxic stall your Rival’s Blastoise, whose best chance of dealing damage comes in the form of Bite. If you lack Toxic and Protect, then Giga Drain should do the job rather well as it is a 4-5HKO. It doesn’t do a lot of damage and you may not have it on Tentacruel at all, but the option is there since Blastoise, again, is offensively challenged. If your Rival’s starter is Venusaur, then Tentacruel can also handle it rather easily. Ice Beam should result in a 3HKO whereas Venusaur’s Razor Leaf is only a 5HKO. Still, be wary of critical hits (Razor Leaf has a high critical hit ratio) as well as Venusaur’s Sleep Powder. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Much like in the previous battle, Tentacruel can shine here. Half of Giovanni’s team consists of Ground-type Pokémon who lack Ground-type STAB, meaning Tentacruel can easily take them down. Also, Giovanni leads with a Nidorino, who can’t do much damage to Tentacruel. Nidorino’s best move is Horn Attack, which is a measly 6HKO on the Jellyfish Pokémon. Moreover, Tentacruel should 2HKO the Poison Pin Pokémon with Surf. Furthermore, Giovanni’s Rhyhorn is a pushover for the Jellyfish Pokémon; a single Surf will send Rhyhorn to a watery grave two or even three times over. You could also OHKO Rhyhorn with Giga Drain if Tentacruel needs to restore some health. However, if you have to switch in on Rhyhorn, be careful; a five-hit Rock Blast with no critical hits can shave off up to two-thirds of Tentacruel’s health. As for Giovanni’s other Ground-type Pokémon, Nidoqueen, Tentacruel’s Surf should net a 2HKO whereas Nidoqueen’s Body Slam is a 3-4HKO. The Jellyfish Pokémon should also be faster, making this match-up hopefully rather straightforward. However, as always, be wary of critical hits. Lastly, there is the matter of Kangaskhan, who has a Mega Punch that can 3HKO Tentacruel. The Jellyfish Pokémon should be both faster and able to 3HKO in return with Surf. However, only attempt to take down Kangaskhan with Tentacruel if it has more Speed than the Parent Pokémon and is at full health. If neither is true, then Tentacruel’s best bet is to land Toxic and run for the hills. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: Given that Tentacruel is a Poison-type Pokémon, it would be wise to keep it away from Sabrina’s team. Still, the Jellyfish Pokémon does have an enormous Special Defense stat, so it can be useful here if you need it to be. However, it is not recommended, and several better counters are available to you at this point anyway: Snorlax, Hypno, and Flareon come to mind. That said, Tentacruel has a decent chance of being faster than Kadabra and 2HKOing with Surf. However, Kadabra can retaliate with about as much power with its Psybeam, so Tentacruel’s life will be threatened by a critical hit. Mr. Mime can’t hit as hard with Psybeam, yet also has a much higher Special Defense stat than Kadabra does. (Mr. Mime’s base Special Defense stat is equal to that of Tentacruel.) This means that Mr. Mime can cause more trouble than Kadabra when setting up with Calm Mind; Tentacruel should still 2HKO Kadabra if the Psi Pokémon decides to go for Calm Mind whereas Surf goes from a 3HKO to a 4HKO against Mr. Mime after the Barrier Pokémon accrues just one Calm Mind boost. Mr. Mime can also Baton Pass its Calm Mind boosts to Alakazam, meaning that Tentacruel would not only be staring down Sabrina’s ace, but the Psi Pokémon would also have its Special Attack boosted. Mr. Mime needs to be taken down quickly, and Tentacruel cannot achieve that. Going back to Alakazam, Tentacruel needs to avoid it at all costs; even an unboosted Psychic may OHKO the Jellyfish Pokémon. Tentacruel should be able to take out Venomoth, though; the Jellyfish Pokémon’s Surf is a 2-3HKO whereas the Poison Moth Pokémon’s Psybeam can only 4HKO (at best) in return. However, overall, Tentacruel should remain out of this battle if possible. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 40; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus Blaine in Cinnabar Island Gym: In stark contrast to the previous gym battle, Tentacruel shines here. The Jellyfish Pokémon, with its fantastic Special Defense and handy resistance to Fire-type moves, is probably the best Pokémon at your disposal when it comes to tanking Fire Blast. Tentacruel can also annihilate Blaine’s Growlithe and Ponyta with a single use of Surf, and Rapidash may go the same way. (Even if Rapidash survives, its best move, Bounce, is only a 4HKO.) As for Blaine’s ace, it will survive one use of Surf, but Tentacruel should finish it off with another. Arcanine can only 3HKO in return with its Take Down. To top it off, Tentacruel should be able to outspeed every one of Blaine’s Pokémon, even Arcanine. All in all, Tentacruel is a marvelous choice for this gym, even rivaling the likes of Vaporeon and Blastoise. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 45; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: In stark contrast to almost every other Water-type Pokémon in the game, Tentacruel is not able to steamroll through this gym as it has a glaring weakness to Ground-type moves. As such, you may need to find another counter. Still, Tentacruel can OHKO Giovanni’s first and second Rhyhorn with either Giga Drain or Surf. However, Tentacruel cannot switch in on an Earthquake, which may result in an OHKO. Consequently, you’ll need to lead with Tentacruel and be on Switch Mode to bring it in later if you want the Jellyfish Pokémon to take down Giovanni’s first and second Rhyhorn. Tentacruel should also OHKO Dugtrio with Surf, but another Pokémon should handle Dugtrio if possible since the Mole Pokémon will OHKO Tentacruel with a critical hit Earthquake. In other words, there is a one-in-sixteen chance that your Tentacruel will die if you try and have it take out Dugtrio. (Tentacruel could avoid this by moving first, but this is very unlikely as the Mole Pokémon’s base Speed stat is on par with Tentacruel’s Special Defense stat. To put it another way, Dugtrio is wicked fast.) The same problem exists for both Nidoqueen and Nidoking, who can both 2HKO the Jellyfish Pokémon with Earthquake, except Tentacruel can only 2HKO those two. Nevertheless, Tentacruel can be a great back-up. If either Nidoking’s or Nidoqueen’s health is at less than 50% of its maximum and they knock out one of your Pokémon, then Tentacruel can come in to revenge kill Nidoking or Nidoqueen as the Jellyfish Pokémon should be faster. All in all, Tentacruel’s weakness to Earthquake holds it back from making significant contributions in this battle, but it can still be very useful thanks to its ability to wreak havoc with Surf. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 48; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus Rival in Route 22: Your Rival has wised up a little in terms of what moves he gives to his Pokémon, which can be seen with Alakazam, but Tentacruel is nevertheless about as useful in this battle as it was in the Silph Co. Rival battle. Pidgeot is pretty much the same as before, and Tentacruel can net the 2HKO with Ice Beam. Your Rival now has a Rhyhorn, who, unlike those that Giovanni has, carries no Ground-type moves. Tentacruel can easily OHKO the Spikes Pokémon with either Surf or Giga Drain. However, note that Rhyhorn is packing Horn Drill, which will always OHKO if it lands. Similarly, Exeggcute won’t be giving the Jellyfish Pokémon too much trouble. Exeggcute lacks sun support and can only attack with Solar Beam while Tentacruel may be able to OHKO with Ice Beam. Growlithe is even easier for Tentacruel to handle; by using Surf, the Jellyfish Pokémon will almost certainly OHKO the Puppy Pokémon. As for your Rival’s Gyarados, it can only deal damage with Twister and Hydro Pump, so Tentacruel can easily Toxic stall or 5HKO with Ice Beam. (However, if Gyarados sets up Rain Dance, then switch to Surf. A resisted Surf does more damage when it is raining than a neutral Ice Beam can.) On the other hand, keep Tentacruel away from Alakazam, who can 2HKO the Jellyfish Pokémon with Psychic. As for your Rival’s Charizard, Tentacruel should be able to 2HKO with Surf. However, note that Charizard might be faster and can 3-4HKO in return with Wing Attack, so be wary of that, especially if Tentacruel is low on health. Toxic stalling is your best bet for taking down Blastoise, who lacks a powerful move and therefore will do very little damage to Tentacruel. The Jellyfish Pokémon’s only way to do a respectable amount of damage comes in the form of Giga Drain, which is a 5HKO. If you don’t have Giga Drain on your Tentacruel, then you’ll need to stick to Toxic and stall out Blastoise. By using Ice Beam, which is a 3-4HKO, the Jellyfish Pokémon can also wear down Venusaur, who should be slower and can only 4HKO in return with Razor Leaf. However, as always, be wary of critical hits and keep an eye on Tentacruel’s health. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 49; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 59; Ice Beam, Surf, Toxic/Giga Drain, Protect/Acid/Barrier.
Tentacruel versus Lorelei: Tentacruel’s main STAB move, Surf, isn’t going to be useful here (except against Jynx) as almost every single one of Lorelei’s Pokémon are part Water-type. Giga Drain won’t be all that useful either; the move’s PP is too low to be used consistently throughout the battle, even if you max out its PP using PP Ups. However, Tentacruel can still be helpful here with Toxic stalling; the Jellyfish Pokémon can tank everything Lorelei’s team can throw at it. For example, Tentacruel can easily stall out Dewgong, whose Surf is pitiful. Just use Toxic and then spam Acid or Surf and Tentacruel will come out on top eventually. (Using Protect on alternating turns works as well, but be aware of its relative lack of PP.) Lorelei does have Full Restores to burn, so be aware of that. As for Cloyster, you don’t even need to worry about using Toxic; Tentacruel can 3HKO with Surf. Moreover, Cloyster’s best move, Dive, is even worse than Dewgong’s Surf. Toxic stalling will also get you past Slowbro, who, like Lorelei’s previous two Pokémon, can’t hurt Tentacruel. Slowbro’s Yawn and Amnesia can both be annoying, but they shouldn’t cause too much of an issue as long as Tentacruel can badly poison Slowbro. Also, don’t worry about the possibility of Slowbro having a Psychic-type move since its only attacking moves are Surf and Ice Beam. Likewise, Jynx lacks a Psychic-type STAB move. Its best move is Double Slap, so Tentacruel should have no issue taking Jynx down with three rounds of Surf. Lapras, who can 4HKO the Jellyfish Pokémon with Body Slam, is the only Pokémon that can pose a threat to Tentacruel. Furthermore, Lapras has Water Absorb, so Toxic stalling is a must. Tentacruel can only directly harm Lapras with Acid (which is weak), Ice Beam (which does next to no damage), or Giga Drain (which has limited PP). All in all, Tentacruel can handle Lorelei’s entire team, but it will be a slow affair. The Jellyfish Pokémon should probably only be used if you’re in a pinch.
Tentacruel versus Bruno: Tentacruel is a Poison-type, giving it a handy resistance to Fighting-type moves, but also keep in mind that its Defense stat isn’t the greatest. Nevertheless, it can still be useful here, especially against Bruno’s Onix provided Tentacruel doesn’t try to switch in on an Earthquake. Speaking of Onix, the Jellyfish Pokémon can annihilate both of Bruno’s with a single Surf or even a Giga Drain. Again, make sure Tentacruel isn’t coming in on an Earthquake, though. As such, Tentacruel should be placed first in your party if you are to use it against Bruno’s first Onix and it may only be able to face the second one if you’re on Switch Mode. (Although Tentacruel should be able to take at least one Earthquake from full health, a critical hit is probably the end of the Jellyfish Pokémon.) As for Bruno’s Hitmonchan, Tentacruel should be able to 3HKO with Surf whereas Hitmonchan can only 5HKO with its best move, Sky Uppercut. The Jellyfish Pokémon should be able to handle Hitmonchan, but you must also be wary of the Punching Pokémon’s Rock Tomb, which will lower Tentacruel’s Speed stat. However, if your only option for Bruno’s second Onix is Tentacruel and you’re willing to risk switching in on a critical hit Earthquake, then, to preserve its health, Tentacruel should probably avoid Hitmonchan. However, if it has taken some damage, Tentacruel will need to avoid Hitmonlee; the Jellyfish Pokémon and the Kicking Pokémon can 3HKO each other. Still, Hitmonlee can only achieve a 3HKO with the inaccurate Mega Kick and Tentacruel should be faster than its opponent. As such, Tentacruel should be able to handle Hitmonlee, but you may need healing items, especially if the Jellyfish Pokémon is already hurt from fighting another one of Bruno’s Pokémon. As always, be wary of critical hits as well. Tentacruel may also be able to take on Bruno’s ace, but this is only possible if Tentacruel is at full health or very close, which is unlikely. If you have a better counter, then use it here. If not, Tentacruel can 3HKO with Surf whereas Machamp can do the same in return, except Tentacruel is faster. Again, be wary of critical hits here; Machamp’s Cross Chop has a high critical hit ratio and a critical hit has a small, but present, chance to be lethal after one Bulk Up boost. Lastly, whatever you do, do not use Toxic on Machamp since it has Guts.
Tentacruel versus Agatha: For Tentacruel, most of the difficulty here comes from the fact that most of Agatha’s team is incredibly annoying with moves like Confuse Ray, Double Team, and Hypnosis. This, coupled with the fact that Tentacruel can only hit Golbat super-effectively, makes it so that this battle will be challenging for the Jellyfish Pokémon. If you have a better counter, such as Shadow Ball Snorlax, then use it; Tentacruel is not very useful in this battle. If you plan to use Tentacruel, be careful with it and be sure to keep an eye on its health throughout the battle. On the bright side, Tentacruel can’t be affected by Toxic, which may come in handy. This will be particularly helpful against Agatha’s first Gengar, who is also Agatha’s lead. It can use Double Team and Confuse Ray, but its Toxic will be ineffective and it can only 5HKO with Shadow Punch. Unless Tentacruel gets particularly unlucky, it should be able to 2HKO with Surf, but it will probably get a little battered. Furthermore, by using Ice Beam, Tentacruel can 2HKO Golbat, who can only 5HKO with Air Cutter. However, keep in mind that Golbat’s Air Cutter has a high critical hit ratio. Similarly, with Surf, Tentacruel should be able to 2HKO Haunter rather easily. However, don’t let the Jellyfish Pokémon fall asleep and stay that way; Haunter can wreak havoc with Dream Eater. As for Arbok, Tentacruel only has a small chance to 2HKO it with Surf. Arbok, at best, can only 5HKO in return, but it may use Screech to lower Tentacruel’s Defense sharply. Lastly, there is the matter of Agatha’s ace, Gengar, who likes to spam Hypnosis just as much as Haunter does. Gengar, whose Shadow Ball is a 3-4HKO, can also hit Tentacruel harder than Agatha’s other Pokémon. Nevertheless, Tentacruel can 2-3HKO with Surf, but the Jellyfish Pokémon will probably either need to be at full health or be healed during the match-up with Gengar. Hypnosis and Nightmare may also be an issue, so keep that Poké Flute close. All in all, Tentacruel is capable of handling any of Agatha’s Pokémon one-on-one, but the Jellyfish Pokémon almost certainly won’t be able to handle Agatha by itself.
Tentacruel versus Lance: Tentacruel is well-equipped to defeat most of Lance’s team, but the Jellyfish Pokémon’s relatively low Defense stat makes it susceptible to Hyper Beam. As a result, Tentacruel is much less useful in this battle than it could be otherwise. Tentacruel is almost wholly hopeless against Gyarados, though; with a critical hit Hyper Beam, the Atrocious Pokémon can OHKO the Jellyfish Pokémon. By using Ice Beam, Tentacruel can only hope to 5HKO Gyarados. The Jellyfish Pokémon’s best bet is to land a Toxic, use Protect to stall a turn, and then run for the hills. However, even this leaves Tentacruel open to Hyper Beam on the first turn, and Toxic might not end up being that useful unless your team lacks Electric-type coverage. A similar issue exists with Aerodactyl, who is likely faster and may also OHKO with a critical hit Hyper Beam. Moreover, Aerodactyl can 3-4HKO with Wing Attack and is likely faster than the Jellyfish Pokémon. Nevertheless, Tentacruel can finish the Fossil Pokémon with two rounds of Surf. It’s just difficult to find an opening to do so. Fortunately for the Jellyfish Pokémon, both Lance’s first and his second Dragonair shouldn’t pose too much of a threat as long as Tentacruel is healthy. Dragonair’s Hyper Beam is only a 3HKO, so it is extremely unlikely, if not nearly impossible, that it will OHKO with a critical hit. Moreover, Outrage is a special move in this generation, so Tentacruel can tank it with ease. (As a matter of fact, a Dragonair locked into Outrage, which is only a 5HKO, gives Tentacruel a perfect opportunity to switch in.) Tentacruel should be able to 2HKO either Dragonair with Ice Beam, a move that will also result in a 2HKO on Dragonite. However, Lance’s ace will deal a lot of damage with Hyper Beam. As with Gyarados and Aerodactyl, Hyper Beam should be an OHKO with a critical hit. Dragonite can also 3HKO with Wing Attack. On the other hand, Dragonite is liable to use Safeguard on its first turn in battle (unless Dragonair used it first and it’s still in effect) and Outrage, if Dragonite gets locked into it, is only a 3-4HKO. Tentacruel certainly can take Dragonite down, but it’s rather risky, especially if Tentacruel’s health is low.
Tentacruel versus the Champion: Against the Champion’s lead, Pidgeot, Tentacruel can 2HKO with Ice Beam as per usual. Pidgeot’s Aerial Ace should result in a 4HKO and it can also try to annoy you with Sand Attack or Whirlwind, so keep those things in mind. If you want to preserve Tentacruel for the Champion’s Fire-type or Rhydon, then it’s best to use another Pokémon to fight Pidgeot. However, keep the Jellyfish Pokémon away from Alakazam, who is faster and can easily 2HKO Tentacruel with Psychic. As for Rhydon, you don’t want to have Tentacruel switch in on it; the Drill Pokémon can OHKO the Jellyfish Pokémon with Earthquake. Also, you can’t risk using Giga Drain, which may not result in an OHKO. Tentacruel must already be in the battle when Rhydon comes out (unless you’re on Switch Mode) and must use Surf. Otherwise, you’ll have a dead Jellyfish Pokémon on your hands. Furthermore, the Champion’s Exeggutor is much tougher than your Rival’s Exeggcute was on Route 22; Tentacruel may not net the 2HKO with Ice Beam and Exeggutor can heal its HP with Giga Drain (a 4-5HKO), deal quite a bit of damage with Egg Bomb (a 3HKO), or set up Light Screen to stave off Tentacruel’s Ice Beam. Use a more appropriate counter for Exeggutor if you can. Tentacruel must also fear Gyarados’ Thrash, which is a 3HKO. As the Jellyfish Pokémon can only 6HKO in return, you’ll need to use a more appropriate counter for Gyarados. Arcanine, as a Fire-type, doesn’t fare nearly as well against Tentacruel, who can 2HKO Arcanine with Surf. The Legendary Pokémon can 3-4HKO in return with Extreme Speed, which has priority, so be wary of that. Likewise, Tentacruel should also handle Charizard rather easily, but note that the Flame Pokémon’s Aerial Ace will result in a 3-4HKO. If battered, Tentacruel may not be able to handle Charizard without being healed. By Toxic stalling, Tentacruel can also handle Blastoise, who can only 3HKO at best with Skull Bash, which takes two turns to land. (If Blastoise tries to use Skull Bash, there’s an easy way to get around it: simply use Protect on the turn Skull Bash is supposed to land. This works for any other move that requires a charge turn as well.) Giga Drain can also be of use, but, as it is a likely 4-5HKO and has only 5 PP, you may run out depending on when the Champion decides to heal and how many uses of Giga Drain Tentacruel has left. Venusaur can be difficult to take down as it has both Sunny Day and Synthesis, but three rounds of Ice Beam should do the trick. If not, you could always switch to a Fire-type (if you have one) after Venusaur uses Sunny Day, which boosts the power of Fire-type moves. To summarize, Tentacruel is best used against the Champion’s Pidgeot, Arcanine, Rhydon (watch out for Earthquake), and/or starter Pokémon.
Everything in Between
Caves and Mountains: Tentacool and Tentacruel can handle Geodude and/or Graveler with Surf, but don’t let the Jellyfish Pokémon switch in on either of these Pokémon. Both Tentacool and Tentacruel are weak to Ground-type moves and have relatively low Defense stats. Due to the latter, Selfdestruct is going to be extra dangerous. Pokémon from the Zubat line, however, are generally okay to fight using Ice Beam. Still, be careful; the Tentacool line still sports a subpar Defense stat. Any Fighting-types that may pop up shouldn’t be too difficult to face, but the Tentacool line’s low Defense stat could come to haunt it. Don’t push your Tentacool too far and remember how low its physical bulk is. A fully-evolved Tentacruel should be more than enough to face down Moltres and/or Articuno; the Jellyfish Pokémon can tank Flamethrower and Ice Beam all day.
Vermilion City Area: It’s a good idea to keep a weak Tentacool away from the engineers here, but a fully-evolved Tentacruel or a Tentacool at a high enough level should have no issue. Also, keep Tentacruel out of Diglett’s Cave; Pokémon weak to Ground-type moves generally don’t appreciate being left for dead against an Arena Trap Dugtrio.
Mid- to Late-Game: The bird trainers that litter the Kanto region shouldn’t be too difficult for a strong Tentacruel, but its pre-evolution should steer clear of the more powerful birds, such as Fearow and Dodrio. Whichever version of the Jellyfish Pokémon you use, it’s best to have Ice Beam when you face bird trainers. The trainers on the water routes shouldn’t pose any sort of threat, but neither Tentacool nor Tentacruel can do much damage in return. Either Toxic/Protect or Giga Drain should be used against these Pokémon. (Although, Water-type Pokémon with low Special Defense stats, such as Krabby and Shellder, should be easy enough to defeat with Surf.) As for Cycling Road, beware of the likes of Koffing and Weezing, both of which can explode. (This also applies to the Koffing/Weezing you’ll see in the Pokémon Mansion and the Sevii Islands.) On the other hand, the Fighting-types here shouldn’t pose too much of a threat, but don’t forget about the Tentacool line’s relatively low Defense. Again, don’t push the Jellyfish Pokémon too hard. However, keep Tentacruel out of the Power Plant; both Electrode, who can explode, and Zapdos are threatening.
Checks and Counters
Psychic-types: Tentacruel has just three weaknesses, but Psychic-types, in particular, stand out since Tentacruel can handle most Ground-types with a STAB Surf and Electric-types are rare. Psychic-types such as Sabrina’s Alakazam pose a significant threat to Tentacruel; these Pokémon can hit Tentacruel hard with a STAB Psychic-type attack and the Jellyfish Pokémon often doesn’t have a good answer. As such, Pokémon that can handle Psychic-types, such as Snorlax or Hypno, make good partners for Tentacruel. In return, Tentacruel can handle the Pokméon that might give your Psychic-type counter some trouble, such as powerful Fire-types.
Strong Physical Attackers: Tentacruel is an excellent special wall, but its Defense stat leaves quite a bit to be desired. As a result, powerful physical attackers, especially those with Earthquake, can often take advantage of Tentacruel. Pokémon such as Giovanni’s Kangaskhan come to mind. To counter these threats, it’s good to keep a physical wall around. Pokémon such as Golem, Weezing, and Cloyster fit this description. In return, Tentacruel can tank the special attacks that most physical walls aren’t good at tanking.
Overall Grade: A
As can be seen, Tentacruel is an amazing Pokémon to have in the Kanto region with its high Special Defense stat, impressive Speed stat, and its common availability. It’s always beneficial to have a good tank in Nuzlockes; any time you get into a pinch in battle, you can usually rely on your tank to take a hit. Tentacruel is superb at that: if you need a Pokémon to take a Fire Blast from Blaine’s Arcanine or an Outrage from Lance’s Dragonite, Tentacruel can handle it. Having a special wall like Tentacruel may even end up saving the life of one of your other party members: that Outrage may very well have taken out another one of your Pokémon. That, coupled with the fact that Tentacruel is probably going to outspeed on the following turn, make the Jellyfish Pokémon a huge boon to have in a Nuzlocke. As a result, Tentacruel more than deserves a chance to be on your team.
Resources to Utilize
Tentacruel’s Learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/tentacruel/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.