A Nuzlocker’s Guide to Zapdos

Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1

Zapdos, a Legendary Pokémon, has amazing stats if that wasn’t obvious. However, it also comes earlier than the other legendary birds and (arguably) has the best typing, making it the most useful. However, it comes at level 50 like the other legendary birds, so the fact that it comes earlier just makes it more difficult to catch. The Master Ball is recommended here (assuming you’re not doing the post-game and catching Mewtwo) as you’ll be much closer in level to the other legendary birds once you get to the point where you can catch them. Its only attacking move at level 50 is Drill Peck, so bring a Rock- or Steel-type if you attempt to catch the beast with an Ultra Ball.

Locations

Zapdos: Power Plant (static)

Zapdos’ Match-ups in Important Battles

Zapdos versus the Fighting Dojo in Saffron City: Zapdos makes this sorry excuse for a gym look like a joke. Drill Peck utterly decimates every Pokémon in the place. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus Rival in Silph Co.: Thunderbolt will handle Charizard, Blastoise, Growlithe, Pidgeot, and Gyarados. Drill Peck beats Alakazam, Venusaur, and Exeggcute. Level 50 is incredibly high for this battle; as such, Zapdos will not be threatened. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Nidorino and Kangaskhan fall to Thunderbolt while Nidoqueen is decimated by Drill Peck. Avoid Rhyhorn unless you opted for Steel Wing, which is by no means recommended. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: Zapdos is so overleveled that it’ll decimate Sabrina’s entire team with Drill Peck. Nothing can tank hits from this beast. Even Alakazam should be slower than Zapdos. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus Blaine in Cinnabar Island Gym: Zapdos performs very well in this gym despite the fact it lacks an advantage. For reference, Thunderbolt is a 2HKO on Blaine’s Arcanine. Zapdos can also set up Light Screen to take pitiful damage from Fire Blast. A Water-type would be preferred, though. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: Rhyhorn cannot be fought (unless you opted for Steel Wing, which is by no means recommended), but Drill Peck will decimate Nidoking, Nidoqueen, and Dugtrio. As long as you keep a Water- or Grass-type Pokémon handy (and lead with it; Rhyhorn is Giovanni’s lead), this fight will be a breeze. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 50; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus Rival in Route 22: Thunderbolt will handle Charizard, Blastoise, Growlithe, Pidgeot, and Gyarados. Drill Peck beats Alakazam, Venusaur, and Exeggcute. Rhyhorn, however, should be avoided. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 51; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Fly.

Zapdos versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 59; Thunder Wave, Drill Peck, Thunderbolt, Light Screen (Note: A Rain Dance set with Thunder may seem appealing, but Zapdos has enough power as it is and Rain Dance forces Zapdos to give a free boost to most of Lorelei’s Pokémon).

Zapdos versus Lorelei: Thunderbolt will take care of Dewgong, Cloyster, and Slowbro. However, Jynx and Lapras won’t go down so easily and can retaliate with super-effective STAB. Tread with caution. Light Screen can be utilized to soften the power of Lorelei’s Ice-type attacks.

Zapdos versus Bruno: Zapdos’ Drill Peck will take care of Hitmonlee and Machamp. Stick to Thunderbolt for Hitmonchan though; Counter is scary. Onix should be avoided.

Zapdos versus Agatha: Hit everything with Thunderbolt, bar none. Gengar can be annoying if Zapdos isn’t faster, so bring healing items. If Zapdos falls asleep, use the Poké Flute immediately; Zapdos doesn’t want to deal with Nightmare or Dream Eater.

Zapdos versus Lance: Gyarados is an easy OHKO for Zapdos. Aerodactyl is OHKOed by Thunderbolt as well, but will be faster and hit with STAB Ancient Power. This will do a good chunk of damage to Zapdos and, if it raises Aerodactyl’s stats, prevent Thunderbolt from landing the OHKO. Tread lightly. Drill Peck beats Dragonair, but Zapdos doesn’t like to be paralyzed from Thunder Wave. Dragonite should be handled by something else if possible, but Zapdos can beat it one-on-one as long as Outrage doesn’t land a critical hit. Something faster with an Ice-type move is generally better though.

Zapdos versus the Champion: You know the drill by now; Thunderbolt will handle Charizard, Blastoise, Growlithe, Pidgeot, and Gyarados. Drill Peck beats Alakazam, Venusaur, and Exeggcute. Continue to avoid Rhydon.

Everything in Between

Mid- to Late-Game: Zapdos’ only fear is the Pokémon it can’t hit with a neutral attack; therefore, it can be used in just about any situation. It doesn’t like to take Ice-type moves though, so keep that in mind.

Checks and Counters

Rock/Ground-type Pokémon: These Pokémon can’t be hit neutrally by Zapdos and will retaliate with super-effective STAB. As such, it’s good to keep a Water- or Grass-type Pokémon around. In return, Zapdos can decimate all of its counters or set up Light Screen.

Overall Grade: S

Zapdos has great typing, stats, and dual STAB, making it a Pokémon with few true counters. It can be obtained as early as the Power Plant, giving it an advantage over other legendary birds. It can also decimate the Elite 4 and the Champion almost singlehandedly. If you can get your hands on it (the Master Ball is recommended), it will carry your team to the end with ease.

Resources to Utilize:

Zapdos’ learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/zapdos/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.