26 tips to master Pokémon Sun and Moon

Last Updated December 2nd, 2016

Picked up Nintendo’s newest Pokémon game but don’t know where to begin? Fear not. We have 26 tips for growing Trainers guaranteed to get you on the fast track to becoming a Pokémon master.

General Tips

Don’t Ignore Non-Offensive Moves

First time players may be tempted to ditch any move that doesn’t deal damage, but Pokémon isn’t a slugfest like that. Pokémon is a game where you set up situations in which your opponent cannot possibly win against you. In general, focus on making your already good stats even better. A defense buff on a tank will prevent even super-effective moves from making a dent.

Try Not To Double Up Types on Your Team

The main strategic gameplay element in Pokémon is typing matchups. Your goal is to have as many different Pokémon types and move types on your team as possible. That way, you are unlikely to run into an opposing trainer that can wipe your team with one counter-pick. Similarly, don’t overload your team when embarking on an elemental trial. A single Pokémon with a strength to the type you are facing is usually enough to wipe an entire 6-Pokémon opposing team if it’s comparably leveled.

Don’t Worry About Serious Competitive Training Until Post-Game

Training your Pokémon for competitive play is a horrendous grind that needs to be planned out and perfected before you even begin. Every single Pokémon you face has an effect on your Pokémon’s stats as they level up. You simply cannot reliably raise a Pokémon for competitive play while also facing story-based encounters. Wait until the post-game, or else you’ll go more than a little crazy.

Catch the Second Pokémon You Find, Not Just the First

Catching a Pokémon adds a partial entry to your Pokédex, which carries with it quite a few benefits. Not only will you be able to see exactly which moves are effective against it, you can also use the Pokédex to locate areas where the Pokémon calls home. This makes it much easier for you to find the specific type of Pokémon you want for your team.

Don’t Grind Until You Have the EXP Share

You are given the EXP Share about a half hour in, well before you have to face your first trial. Grinding before that is basically a lost cause. None of the battles up until that point are particularly challenging, and the EXP Share will allow your party to remain comparably leveled throughout your entire adventure.

Buy Pokéballs at Thrifty Megamart

This is just a way to be efficient with your money. Every Pokémon Trainer needs Pokéballs. If you need to restock, buy them at the Thrifty Megamart as every 10 Pokéballs purchased give you one Premier Ball. Eleven for the price of 10 isn’t much of a savings, but it adds up over time. If you do this with a coupon, you can essentially sell and resell your Pokéballs without losing money while generating an infinite amount of Premier Balls. Can’t argue with infinite!

There Is No Reason Not to Ride Pokémon

Almost every single Ride Pokémon you get will move faster than your little 11 year old legs can carry you. To expedite your journeys and really balloon up that step counter, use a Ride Pokémon all the time.

Hold B to Prevent Pokémon from Evolving

If, for some reason, you want to keep your pokébuddy a cute cuddly pet rather than a walking ball of magical death, you can press and hold B as a Pokémon is evolving to prevent its evolution. This can also be used when training a specific move-set to gain access to moves that only pre-evolved Pokémon have.

Specific Move and Pokémon Tips

Get a Pokémon With a Sleep Effect

Sleep is one of the best status effects in the game this time around. Not only can sleeping Pokémon be caught more easily, they also cannot call for help in an S.O.S. battle. Being able to put Pokémon to sleep can save you literal hours of random battle frustration.

Rowlet’s Line Can Use False Swipe

False Swipe is a normal move that will never reduce your opponent’s health lower than 1HP. It’s an absolute must have move if you are interested in seriously attempting to Catch Em’ All. Unfortunately, very few Pokémon can learn False Swipe – but Rowlet, the grass starter, can! This allows you to learn False Swipe very early in the game, allowing you to catch practically every Pokémon you come across from then on.

Only Female Salandits Evolve

Salazzle’s Fire/Poison typing and incredible move set has made it an in-demand Pokémon in Sun/Moon. However, many Trainers are finding that their Salandit, the pre-evolution of Salazzle, just won’t evolve. That’s because only female Salandits evolve, and females are about ten times rarer than males. That being said, they can be caught in the same areas as males, so just keep looking and you’ll eventually find a female.

You Can Find Bagon on MeleMele Island

On Route 3, right in the beginning of the game, in a patch of grass between two normal trees and one fruit tree, Bagon will spawn. For those of you unfamiliar, Bagon is the first step in a dragon-type Pokémon evolution tree which eventually ends with Salamence, the pseudo-legendary dragon from Generation III. Picking up Bagon early in the game will give you a powerhouse of a Pokémon that can very easily cut through a majority of the game’s challenges. But if you are really crazy you can continually engage the Bagon in an S.O.S. battle, forcing it to call for help over and over again. Doing this gives you a chance to spawn a low-level Salamence already evolved.

Mareanie Can Be Found By Getting a Corsola to Call for Help

Mareanie is one of the best defensive Pokémon in this generation, but it doesn’t spawn by itself anywhere. Instead, you have to engage a Corsola in battle, lower its HP, and make it call for help. There is a 20% chance that it will call a Mareanie instead of another Corsola when it calls for help, and that’s how you catch a Mareanie. Now, try not to read the Pokédex entry about how Marenie’s love to prey on dying Corsola because it will make you feel really bad about what you just did.

You Can Break Apart Zygarde

The Zygarde sidequest tasks you with finding 100 pieces of this legendary Pokémon. When you have at least 10 or 50 pieces, you can bring them to an Aether Foundation outpost to merge them into a lower powered imperfect form of Zygarde. You can then treat this form like any other Pokémon and can break it back apart into Zygarde Cells whenever you like. The trick is you can break apart traded Zygardes as well, effectively making your fetch quest much easier.

But why would someone want to trade a Zygarde away? Zygrade’s 10 percent form is actually not that powerful, and even it’s 50 percent form is easily surpassed by other legendaries. This has caused some Trainers who have given up on the fetch quest to use 10 percent Zygarde’s as trading fodder.

Your First Legendary Can Be Caught With a Quick Ball

Over the course of the game’s main story you will be forced into a battle against one of the box legendaries – Solgaleo in Sun and Lunala in Moon. This encounter is set up to make catching them easier than usual, so don’t waste your Master Ball. In fact, due to a strange artifact of the game’s coding, this small boost to catch rate makes it possible to catch them on turn one if you throw a Quick Ball. Yes, even though they are at full health. It’s not a 100% technique, but it’s worth trying to bypass the entire fight.

New Sun/Moon Feature Tips

Use Pokémon Refresh Liberally

Pokémon Refresh allows you to pet, play with, and groom your Pokémon, but this isn’t just fluff for the Tamagotchi crowd. Keeping a Pokémon fed, happy, and affectionate will allow it to randomly dodge attacks in battle, randomly score critical hits, and even randomly take less damage. Pokémon Refresh can also be used to heal status effects for free using the “medicine” item, and you’ll raise your Pokémon’s affection in the process. It’s better than using healing items in every way.

Scan QR Codes… Any QR Codes

If you look around for Pokémon promotional material, you’ll find QR codes that you can scan that fill in your Alola Pokédex even without having seen the appropriate Pokémon. For every 10 QR codes you scan you can then use the “island scan” ability for a one time shot at catching a “rare” Pokémon from a different generation. You can do this one every day, but you need 10 QR codes to do it. Luckily, any Pokémon QR code works, even older codes from previous generations. Just hop on the web and scan away.

You Need to Trade Off-Generation for Non-Alolan Variants

You cannot catch or evolve Non-Alolan versions of generation one Pokémon in the Alola version. For that, you either have to import Pokémon from another generation or from Pokémon Go.

Don’t Mistake Affection for Happiness

Pokémon Refresh allows you to raise a Pokémon’s affection, enjoyment, and fullness, but none of these things are the same thing as happiness, i.e. what gets Eevee to evolve into an Espeon. Happiness is raised by using items and fighting in battles. It can also be raised gradually by equipping a Pokémon with the soothing bell.

The TM Happiness Cheat Is a Lie

Many sites are reporting that you can cheat a Pokémon’s happiness up by finding two TMs that it can learn and repeatedly using them over and over. The thought is that each usage counts as “using an item” on the Pokémon and thus should raise happiness. However I tested this theory, and after more than a half hour of repeatedly rewriting TM moves I still could not get a Pokémon to happiness evolve.

S.O.S. Battles Summon Better Pokémon

While S.O.S. battles can be frustrating, they also serve a purpose. Each Pokémon that is called has a chance of being slightly better than the last. Not only that, but many Pokémon have a chance to call rare or shiny variants when they call for help. Finally, chaining S.O.S. battles increases the EV points you get from battle, so it’s useful for quickly training your favorite party.

Your Character Customization Options are Tied to Your Game Version

If you keep running across characters that have on clothing you could never find, that’s because Sun and Moon each have different outfits to choose from. The biggest variation is in color, with Sun featuring “warmer” colors and Moon featuring “cooler” ones.

You Can Re-battle Trial Captains

Once you are done with your trials and have finished taking on the kahunas and becoming Pokémon champion, visit your old friends the trial captains. You can fight them again, facing more powerful teams this time around, and you can take home some special prizes and items for winning.

You Can Change the In-Game Time Without Cheating

After obtaining your box legendary, go back to the altar where you caught it. If you go at the right time of day (at night in Sun and during the day in Moon) you will be transported to the “alternate dimension” i.e. the dimension of the other game. This means you can shift the time forward 12 hours whenever you want, without changing your 3DS clock. You can also catch a Cosmog, the pre-evolved form of your box legendary, in this new universe. It won’t evolve into the other legendary, but now that you have two, you can trade one in the festival plaza for the other.

Don’t ignore Poképelago

The Poképelago is a place where your out of party Pokémon can grow beans, berries, train, relax, and even invite new wild Pokémon to join your party. These rewards are basically free and they tend to generate once every 24 hours, so be sure to stop in the first time you open your 3DS every day.

Wondertrade at Midnight

Finally, here is a small little recipe for success with dubious legality. If you want to get some amazing scores on Wondertrade, trade at or after midnight. Wondertrade allows you to blindly trade one Pokémon with another with trainers all over the world. It’s essentially a random lottery. Your goal is to sign on to Wondertrade when as few people are playing as possible.

During the day you’ll find a bunch of kids trying to trade away crap Yungooses. But at night you’ll find one of three types of people:

  1. Players in other time zones
  2. Obsessive breeders trying to get rid of failed breeding experiments
  3. Blatant hackers giving away  legal, but broken, hacked Pokémon

Through Wondertrade I have managed to get two complete sets of each three starter Pokémon, a shiny Type: Null legendary, an absurdly powerful Jangmo-o, and more. Is this “cheating?” Well it’s not against the rules, but whether or not it fits into your morals as a Pokémon Trainer is your personal call.

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