Update 1/14/2020: This article now contains Pokemon Sword and Shield Teams
Oh the Dark type. I place it in that special category of types like Psychic, Steel, and Ghost of types you don’t see too often but are pretty cool. For a type as…prestigious…as Dark, you may be surprise to learn that it’s actually a good type for a Monotype (or Single Type) Run. Earlier generations not as much but the later games offer some premium teams that you can train and have fun with (what’s funny is that Dark type has the worst type run in the entire series as well as one of the best!). Dark Pokemon are also just plain fun! Crawdaunt, Krookodile, Hydreigon, and Scrafty are just a few of the amazing Pokemon you can train. The games also cover your weaknesses and they offer a very diverse set of moves that make other types envious. What are those games? Let’s dive in and find out!
- Only Pokémon of a certain type may be caught and trained.
- You must catch the first Pokémon available of that type if your starter does not match that type (you’ll then have to disregard that starter).
- You may train a Pokémon that evolves to said type as long as you do it ASAP.
- No trading allowed.
- Mega Pokémon count as long as you Mega Evolve them as soon as they appear on the battlefield.
- Only Pokémon caught before Elite Four are counted.
The Worst Games
In general, the first four generations will not offer very many, if at all, satisfying Dark-type runs. Most of these earlier generations see Dark Pokemon in few numbers or appearing late in the games. Of course, Kanto games are the worst example of this as there are no Dark Pokemon catchable in these regions. This makes a Dark type run in FireRed and LeafGreen the worst Monotype Run in the entire franchise. Dang!
It’s not all gloom and doom. Emerald and Sapphire are actually quite good as they offer a diverse team that covers your weaknesses and you can have two Pokemon that evolve into a dark type by the time you hit your first gym (Poochyena and Nuzleaf) and your neutralizer Sableye before your second gym. But why play Emerald or Sapphire when you have their remakes…
The Best Games
Starting from Pokemon Black to SWSH you get a series of games that are very high quality for a Dark playthrough (with the exception of Pokemon White due to the absence of Mandibuzz which your mileage may vary for that one). These games hit all the good marks; an early available Pokemon, a full and diverse team, all the weaknesses are covered, and there’s a nice distribution throughout the routes. The best games by far are Pokemon USUM followed by XY but the other Generation V and on games are really good.
XY and USUM’s diversity is on a whole another level, like God-tier level. You can catch about 12 different type combinations from each game which is ridiculous. The amount of Dark Pokemon you can train is insane in X (19), Y (20), US (17), and UM (18). The Pokemon are also spread nicely throughout the games (and not all bunched up at the end like ORAS). Finally, you get a starter that evolves into a Dark type which equates these games to a near-perfect Monotype Run.
The reason why I edge USUM over XY is the weakness-neutralization that’s done near the start of the game. First, your starter, Litten, will be a Fire/Dark type which takes care of Bug and Fairy weaknesses (and SE against Bug types). Quickly following that you can catch an Inkay near Professor Kukui’s lab which neutralizes the Fighting weakness (Psychic/Dark and it’s SE against Fighting). These weaknesses are further taken care one after the other with an Alolan Grimer at the Trainer School (Poison/Dark which neutralizes ALL the weaknesses and is SE against Fairies), Murkrow in the Hau’oli Cemetery (Flying/Dark neutralizes Fighting and Bug and SE against the two), and a Sableye at Ten Carat Hill (Ghost/Dark which is immune to Fighting and neutralizes Bug). That’s FIVE Pokemon on just the first island alone! And that’s not counting Alolan Raticate, Alolan Persian, and the very rare Zoroark! You could have a full team by the time you get off the island and take it to the Elite Four with no problem! Did I say near-perfect run? Forget that! A Dark type run in USUM is as perfect of a run as you can get in the entire Pokemon Series. Don’t pass it up! I played with this one and it was great!
Dark Teams in Pokemon Games
Pokemon GSC and HGSS
Ideal Team: Murkrow, Umbreon, Tyranitar (HGSS via Safari)
First Pokémon: Eevee given by Bill in Goldenrod after the third gym or Murkrow via Pokewalker.
Covers Weaknesses? Yes, thanks to Murkrow and Fairy not being introduced yet
Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, ORAS
Ideal Team: Crawdaunt/Sharpedo, Honchkrow (ORAS), Krookodile (ORAS), Drapion (ORAS), Hydreigon (ORAS), Scrafty (ORAS)
Optional Pokémon: Absol, Mightyena, Umbreon (ORAS), Zoroark (ORAS), Mega-Gyarados (ORAS), Spiritomb (ORAS), Sabeleye (S, E, AS), Shiftry (R, E, OR)/Cacturne
First Pokémon: Poochyena via Route 101
Covers Weaknesses? Yes for all versions except Pokemon Ruby
Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, Platinum
Ideal Team: Drapion, Weavile
Optional Pokémon: Absol (Platinum), Honchkrow (Diamond), Stuntank (Diamond), Houndoom (Platinum), Umbreon (Platinum)
First Pokémon: Murkrow can be caught at Eterna Forest after the first gym in Diamond. In Pearl, you can catch a Skorupi in the Great Marsh well after the third gym. In Platinum, you can acquire an Eevee in Hearthome City just before the third gym.
Covers Weaknesses? Yes
Pokemon Black, White, and B2W2
BW Ideal Team: Liepard, Scrafty, Krookodile, Bisharp, Mandibuzz (B), Hydreigon
First Pokémon: Purrloin via Route 2 before the first gym
Cover weaknesses? Only for Pokemon Black, in Pokemon White Fighting is not neutralized.
B2W2 Ideal Team: Hydreigon, Mandibuzz (B2)/Weavile, Krookodile, Scrafty, Drapion, Bisharp
Optional: Liepard, Umbreon, Absol, Zoroark
First Pokémon: Purrloin via Route 19 before the first gym
Cover weaknesses? Yes, thanks to Drapion
Ideal Team: Greninja, Pangoro/Scrafty, Malamar, Honchkrow, Houndoom (X)/Bisharp, Drapion/Skuntank
Optional Pokémon: Crawdaunt, Sharpedo, Absol, Umbreon, Sableye, Liepard (Y)/Mightyena (X), Krookodile, Weavile, Tyranitar (Y), Hydreigon (Y), Zoroark
First Pokémon: Froakie via Starter
Covers Weaknesses? Yes
Pokemon SM and USUM
SM Ideal Team: Incineroar, Honchkrow, Muk, Pangoro, Hydregion (scan), Sabeleye
Optional: Krookodile, Absol, Weavile, Raticate, Sharpedo, Mandibuzz (Moon), Umbreon, Persian
First Pokémon: Litten via Starter
Covers Weaknesses? Yes
USUM Ideal Team: Incineroar, Malamar, Bisharp, Honchkrow, Muk, Pangoro
Optional: Krookodile, Absol, Weavile, Raticate, Sharpedo/Crawdaunt/Greninja (scan), Tyranitar, Scrafty, Sabeleye, Mandibuzz (UM), Umbreon, Houndoom (US), Persian
First Pokémon: Litten via Starter
Covers Weaknesses? Yes
Pokemon Sword and Shield
Ideal Team: Drapion, Grimmsnarl, Malamar, Bisharp, Scrafty (Sword)/Pangoro, Mandibuzz (Shield)/Crawdaunt
Optional Pokémon: Thievul, Liepard, Shiftry (Sword), Obstagoon, Skuntank, Umbreon, Weavile, Morpeko, Tyranitar (Shield), Hydreigon (Sword)
First Pokémon: Nickit by overworld (5%) via Route 1. Route 2 is more productive with Zigzagoon and Nickit by overworld (2% and 15%) and Purrloin and Seedot (Sword) by random encounters (10% and 20%).
Weaknesses Covered? Yes
MVP (Most Valuable Pokemon)
Monotype runs can be difficult. So finding that one Pokemon that can neutralize all your weaknesses is like hitting the jackpot. The Dark type has three of them.
One of the best type combos in the games, Poison/Dark is a fantastic combination for Dark Pokemon as Poison neutralizes ALL its weaknesses and you get a STAB super-effective move against the Fairies. Having one of these Pokemon on your team guarantees you a wall against a tricky opponent. But the other reason why this is #1 on our list is their prevalence. Drapion, Skuntank, and Alolan Muk are catchable in every game starting from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl onwards with the exception being Pokemon Black and White. You can find these guys in all the other games before the Elite Four. These three can also fight your enemies well. For instance, Alolan Muk can learn Rock Slide and Flamethrower, Drapion can learn Fire Fang, Aerial Ace, Iron Tail, and Rock Slide, and Skuntank can learn Iron Tail and Flamethrower.
Disadvantages? Hm, well, they sometimes show up late in the games. Um, Muk and Drapion’s move diversity is good…but Skuntank’s is okay. They also have a…Ground weakness…? But it’s just the one so just…not fight against a Steelix? These Pokemon are also strong (Muk and Drapion have 500 Total Base Stats while Skuntank has 479) but nothing to write home about. Really, the only major qualm I have is they don’t show up in earlier games, but those games aren’t even that good for a Dark type run to begin with so that’s not the worst thing ever.
Yeah, these guys are sweet.
Available in: DPP (Skuntank in Diamond and Drapion for all), B2W2 (Drapion), XY (Drapion and Skuntank), ORAS (Drapion), SM and USUM (Muk), SWSH (Drapion and Skuntank)
After the Poison/Dark Pokemon, all other MVPs fight for second place. They will give you support, diversity, and availability where the previous Pokemon fail.
One of those is Umbreon. Umbreon is a widely popular Pokemon and the recent, Reddit survey of favorite Pokemon had placed it 6th place (607 people out of 52,725 voted for it) making it the most popular Eevee family member. But what makes Umbreon special is not its popularity but its availability and stats. First, Eevee is a very common Pokemon in the games. And depending on the version, you can catch one in every region (except for the Kanto remakes which is pbbbbbtttt). Umbreon also has some impressive stats and its highest of which are on its defenses and third highest in its HP. Umbreon is thus the ideal tank to have if you’re worried about being one-shot by an opponent.
As such, Umbreon is not one for attacking, more for defense and status-inflicting moves. Even its moveset reflects this as it barely knows any moves that are not Dark type. Still, Umbreon does its job very well and will be a lovely partner for you through thick and thin.
Available in: GSC, Platinum, HGSS, B2W2, XY, ORAS, SM, USUM, SWSH
Honchkrow and Mandibuzz
When I’m doing a Dark type run, these are the guys I make a beeline towards as quick as I can. Flying pairs nicely for Dark type as it neutralizes its Bug and Fighting weakness and provides Super Effective STAB moves to boot. In fact, if you’re playing any game before Generation 6, having one of these guys on your team will guarantee you weakness coverage since Fairy wasn’t introduced yet. Because of which, Mandibuzz’s absence in Pokemon White demotes a Dark type run from fantastic to decent.
Since Murkrow was introduced in Generation 2, we get to see these guys pop up all over the place so you’re likely to run into them in later generations. Murkrow’s evolution, Honchkrow, arrives in Generation 4 providing a strong boost to this family. In fact, both of these bad birds total base stats are over 500 which is really nice. Mandibuzz is on the tanky side so if you want an attacker go for Honchkrow. Honchkrow can even learn Steel Wing so if you want to give Fairies the middle finger you can surprise them with this move.
Your big fault here is the move diversity. Flying Pokemon in general have poor movepools so Mandibuzz and Honchkrow suffer. Embarrassingly, Honchkrow’s only strong Flying move by TM or Level Up is Fly and that’s it. Honchkrow can still learn Psychic and Shadowball though so it’s not all bad news (and Nasty Plot is nice). However, if you have a move tutor your movepool expands greatly so look out for them in B2W2, USUM, and SWSH.
Available in: GSC (Murkrow), Diamond (Honchkrow), HGSS (Honchkrow), Black and Black 2 (Mandibuzz), XY (Honchkrow), ORAS (Honchkrow and Mandibuzz), SM and USUM (Honchkrow in all and Mandibuzz in Moon and UM), Shield (Mandibuzz)
Pangoro and Scrafty
Both Scrafty and Pangoro are incredible Pokemon for their own reasons but the main reason why you want to carry them is not their Bug resistance but their move diversity. Elemental punches, Outrage, Earthquake, X-Scissor, and of course, Fighting moves give you nice coverage. Pangoro can also learn Bullet Punch by level up which is nice to surprise Fairies. These guys are stroooong and with their nice abilities you can be an effective attacker (Pangoro) or a tank (Scrafty). However, watch out for those Fairy weaknesses, they can mess you up!
Available in: BW and B2W2 (Scrafty), XY (Pangoro and Scrafty), ORAS (Scrafty), SM (Pangoro), and USUM (Pangoro and Scrafty), SWSH (Pangoro for both and Scrafty for Sword)
Greninja and Incineroar are both starters for their respective series, XY for Greninja and SM and USUM for Incineroar. They are what make their respective games amazing for a Dark type run. You have your Pokemon and you don’t need to wait and catch one. This makes them very ideal to have on your team and they’re both so good. Greninja is fast, learns Water Shuriken, and can learn a variety of moves. Incineroar’s Fire type neutralizes Bug and Fairy weaknesses, and can learn some strong Fighting moves. If you’re torn between the two, why not both? They both appear in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon! Really, their only downfall is that they don’t appear in all the games!
Available in: XY (Greninja), SM (Incineroar), USUM (Incineroar and Greninja)
Sabeleye (and if you’re lucky, Spiritomb)
In the old days, Spiritomb and Sabeleye had no weaknesses due to their type combinations. When Gamefreak made them they were either weak (Sableye) or had a limited movepool (Spiritomb). Now they have a Fairy weakness but unfortunately, neither problem was fixed with the exception of Sableye’s Mega Evolution. Still, that Ghost type is really nice for them as you have an immunity to Fighting and a neutralization for Bug. Of the two, I pick Sabeleye as it’s more common and it learns some nice moves. It will learn Zen Headbutt and Power Gem via level up so you can counter your foes easily. Sabeleye is also available usually early on so keep an eye out for it! Spiritomb, meanwhile, will only show up legitimately in ORAS but why catch him when you got a sweet Mega-Sabeleye?
Available in: Sapphire and Emerald (Sabeleye), XY (Sabeleye), ORAS (Sabeleye in Sapphire and Spiritomb in both), SM and USUM (Sabeleye)
The last MVP Pokemon is a bit subjective but hear me out on this. Although Krookodile does not neutralize any weaknesses, it makes up for it by stats, moves, abilities, and commonality. Krookodile’s strength is just behind the starters and Umbreon sitting at a BST of 519. Intimidate pairs well for its average defenses but it’s Moxie that sells it with Krookodile’s great speed which can make him a Juggernaut. Krookodile can learn the various Earth-based moves, of course, but it can also learn Outrage, Thunder and Fire Fang, Shadow Claw, and Aqua Tail. Finally, it is found in every game between Pokemon BW to Pokemon USUM. Again, another reason why the later games are best for a Dark type run!
Available in: BW, B2W2, XY, ORAS, SM, USUM