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     First off, while this guide's intention is to be informative and objective, some parts may be opinionated.  If you have any questions, please contact me, Warrior Rapter, either on the PFF Forums of the PFF Xat.

     This is a guide for training pokemon for competitive battles in the Pokemon game, whether it be among friends or for a competitive tournament.  The steps for training a pokemon are: planning, breeding or obtaining, training, leveling, and testing and battling.  This guide will cover areas in both generation 4, with Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver, and generation 5, with Black and White.  I will walk you through each step in this guide, but first, here's a list of some tools to use:

  • A Web Browser (which you probably have if you are reading this guide)
  • The Notepad application on your computer
  • Patience, as the process, whether in this guide or elsewhere, is not meant to be a quick one.

Step 1: Planning

     The basic step to any idea for a pokemon is the planning step, which takes a bit of research.  There are various research sites over pokemon that will help with this step, such as Serebii.net or Bulbapedia.  First, you need to know what pokemon you want to train for competition.  It's helpful to use Notepad to keep track of your idea, using the format of Pokemon, Nature @ Held Item; Moveset.  As an example throughout this entire guide, I'm going to use one of my current level 100 pokemon, Politoed.  Be sure that the pokemon you're planning for you can obtain either in your game or through a trade with a friend.  Once you know what pokemon you want to train, use your choice of research site to find information on your pokemon, for this example, I'm using Bulbapedia (see Bulbapedia's Politoed entry). 
     The main thing your looking at for right now is the base, minimum, and maximum stats, but use these only as a reference.  For example, for Politoed, the top three stats for it are HP, Sp. Attack, and Sp. Defense.  The reason to look at top three stats is so you can have more options than if you looked at just two.  It's also good to note the lower stats, as they may give you and idea of places u can either cover a weakness at or spots you may want to build defensively.  While your on the pokemon's page, also look at the moves your pokemon can learn, being sure that your looking at the movepool for the generation you are playing in, and pick a moveset that suites your idea for the pokemon.  For example, the moveset I have on my Politoed is Surf, Ice Beam, Hyper Voice, and Mudshot.  Once you have an idea what you want your pokemon to do, you need to look at a nature for your pokemon.  The thing to remember about the nature is to try and be open-minded, as you may get a nature while breeding that you didn't plan for, but you may still be able to use.  With my Politoed, I may have originally planned for a Modest nature, which give it a Sp. Attack boost and hinders it's Attack.  However, the nature of my Politoed is Relaxed, which give a Defense boost at the cost of Speed (see Bulbapedia's list of Natures). 
     Once you have a nature picked out, it's time to get an idea of what held item you want you pokemon to have and use in battle.  There are various kinds of held items, not all of which work in battles, but do some research into them, and you my find an item you want (see Bulbapedia's list of Types of Held Items).  For my Politoed, I chose a Wacan Berry, which allows it to weaken a hit from it's Electric-type weakness.  Once you have all that, you are done with the planning phase, and in your Notepad file, should have something that looks similar to this:

Politoed, Modest @ Wacan Berry; Surf, Ice Beam, Hyper Voice, Mudshot

(Note that for the example, I used the original plan for the Politoed)

Step 2: Breeding or Obtaining

     Now that you have the plan for your pokemon, it's time to get the pokemon.  This can be done either by breeding the pokemon or obtaining it.  Breeding is generally the best route to take, as you can get egg moves for your pokemon, and for some it provides a more personalized experience for training pokemon, but some pokemon don't breed, which means you may have to catch the pokemon you want from the wild or obtain the pokemon from a friend.  If you choose to obtain it from a friend, please make sure of your friend's credibility, as some competitive sites frown upon the use of such external devices such as Pokesav and Action Replays, or ARs for short.  The method I will be most thorough with in this guide is the breeding aspect.  For the catching from the wild, you typically just need a pokemon with the ability Synchronize that has the nature you are looking for. 
     Breeding usually requires having pokemon that you want already, but may not have the nature you are looking for or an egg move that you want.  To breed the pokemon, you need to have the pokemon, a Ditto and/or a pokemon from a shared Egg Group, and access to the Pokemon Daycare in your game.  Note that for you to obtain the pokemon you want from breeding with a pokemon from a shared Egg Group, the pokemon you want has to be female (see Bulbapedia's list of Egg Groups).  To obtain egg moves on the offspring pokemon, the move on the egg move list has to be in the father's moveset.  Also note that in generation 5, female pokemon obtained from the Dream World have a chance of passing down it's Ability.  Once you have the two pokemon you are wanting to breed together, it's a patience game for the eggs. 
     For this process, you need a pokemon that can fly and a pokemon with the abilities Flame Body or Magma Armor in your party, leave the other four slots free.  After that, the process differs depending on which game you are playing. 
     For Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum players, switch your poketch to the Daycare application, fly to Eterna City and ride your bike up and down the cycle road to the south, making sure to touch the bottom screen regularly to check for eggs.  Stop refreshing once you have three eggs in your party and you see that there is another waiting, it's very important to keep that last slot open.  Once you are at the point, continue riding on the cycle road until all three eggs in your party have hatched.  If none of the eggs hatched have what you are looking for, fly back to Solaceon Town, grab the waiting egg, then go inside the daycare to the computer and either store the three hatched pokemon or release them, your choice, before going back to the cycle road to repeat the process.  If one of the eggs hatched is the pokemon you are wanting, fly back to Solaceon Town, and when the day care man asks you if you want the egg, choose no a couple of times until the dialogue finishes.  Then, go into the daycare, and get one of the two pokemon in the daycare out before going to the computer and either storing or releasing the pokemon you aren't going to use.  If you are at this point, you are ready for Step 3: Training. 
     For Heartgold and Soulsilver players, run around the daycare below Goldenrod City until you have the three eggs in your party, then fly to the cycle road in Kanto just west of Celadon City and ride your bike until the three eggs hatch.  When the three eggs are hatched, follow suit of the Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum part of the guide above. 
     For Black and White players, run around the daycare by Striaton City until you have the three eggs in your party, then fly to the Driftveil Drawbridge and run around collecting the Wings from the shadows until the three eggs are hatched.  Note for Black and White players, you may encounter wild Duckletts while collecting the wings.  Simply run away from them and continue running.  Once your three eggs are hatched, refer to the Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum part of the guide above. 
     Congratulation on your new pokemon.  Time for training.

Step 3: Training

     Training is arguably the longest part of the process, simply because keeping track of the Effort Values, or EVs, takes some time.  Some of you who are new to the competitive pokemon business probably have no clue what EVs are, and that's alright.  EVs help your pokemon's stats grow, with each pokemon that you defeat in battle giving a certain amount of EVs for a certain stat.  Long story short, any time your pokemon gains experience, unless they already have the maximum EV count, they get EVs as well.  The maximum number of EVs a pokemon can have is 510.  Sounds like quite a bit, but I'll walk you through a process where it's actually not as bad as it sounds.
     First off, you have to decide how you want your EV spread to be.  Keep in mind that while a pokemon can have 510 EVs, each individual stat tops out at 255, meaning you can't put them all in just one stat, and at best you can only max out two.  Some spread EVs at 252/252/6, near maxing two stats, and putting the leftovers in a third.  I personally prefer a 170/170/170 EV spread, because will you may not have a max stat, your stats you train it can balance out.
     Once you have decided what your EV spread is, it's time to pick what stats you put them in.  Remember during the planning step, when we looked at the stats of the pokemon?  Now is a good time to refer back to those stats if you need to.  For my Politoed, means I got a Relaxed Poliwag through breeding, I decided my EV spread would be 170 Defense, 170 Sp. Attack, 170 Sp. Defense.
     Now, before any training begins, you need to get your pokemon some vitamins.  The vitamins you need can be found at the large Pokemarts in Veilstone City in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum; Goldenrod City in Heartgold and Soulsilver, and on Route 9 in Black and White.  You may need to stock up some money though, as the vitamins are pretty pricey, being sold at $9800 a piece.  How much money do you need?  Depends on your spread.  For example, with my 170/170/170 spread, I bought ten vitamins for each of the stats I wanted to train in, because each vitamin is worth ten EVs in a stat.  The reason you cap it at ten is because vitamins will not push EVs over 100 for that stat, but they are good for a head start, especially for level 1 Pokemon from breeding.  So, in the example for my Politoed, I bought ten Irons, ten Calciums, and ten Zincs (see Bulbapedia's list of Vitamins).  Also, if you are a person who likes to nickname pokemon, now is a good time to do it too.  For example, before I gave the vitamins to my Politoed, I nicknamed him Yoshi.
     What do you do for the other EVs?  That you go to various locations in your game to battle against wild pokemon that give the EVs you are training in.  I will list some of my chosen locations, but if you want to find some of your own, refer back to your research site, they will have a list of what pokemon give what EVs.  But, before we do anything, you need to get your EV Sheet ready.
     What's an EV Sheet?  For me, it's another Notepad file with a set format that makes EV training a whole lot easier to keep track of.  To start, open a blank Notepad file, and just save it blank as EV Sheet, because you can reuse it for any future pokes as well.  Once that is done, simply type in the nickname of your pokemon, or the pokemon name if you chose not to nickname, and EV spread in parentheses, and hit enter or return, depending on your computer.  For example, my start of the EV Sheet for my Politoed would look like this:

Yoshi (170 Def, 170 Sp. Atk, 170 Sp. Def)

     Simple enough so far, right?  Now that you have that done, what you need to do is list the stats with a colon and a 100 in parentheses beside each one.  It sounds trivial, right now, but believe me, the list helps a bunch, and the 100 in parentheses is to remind you that you pokemon has taken ten vitamins for that stat.  That may vary if you didn't use a vitamin for a stat or couldn't get all the vitamins you need, but for this guide, we are going to assume best case scenario in that you got all the vitamins you needed.  With that done, my EV Sheet for my Politoed would look like this:

Yoshi (170 Def, 170 Sp. Atk, 170 Sp. Def)
Def: (100)
Sp Atk: (100)
Sp. Def: (100)

     Once you are to that part, you are ready to start training.  "Well, what did I just make this EV Sheet for then?" you are probably asking.  What you do for that is quite simple, when you are training in a stat, hit enter or return after the (100), and keep track of the EVs using the 1-0 keys on your keyboard.  The reason for the 1-0 keys is its easy to keep track of individual EVs, and when you hit 0, you know you have complete a set of 10 EVs.  Now, with Notepad, what I like to do is to put 40 EVs per line, to help keep track, and when I'm finish with a stat, I delete everything to the colon and just put a 170, in the case of my 170/170/170 spread, to indicated that I do not need any more EVs for that stat.  An example EV sheet with my Politoed, showing that Defense has 39 EVs, Sp. Atk has 69 EVs, and Sp. Defense is finished:

Yoshi (170 Def, 170 Sp. Atk, 170 Sp. Def)
Def: (100)
Sp. Atk: (100)
Sp. Def: 170

     See how easy that makes it?  Now, for the actual training.  As I said earlier, I will list my chosen spots for training, stating what pokemon I'm battling and what EVs they give.  Keep in mind this is only an example, and you are fully entitled to your own EV spots.

For Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum players:
Route 201: Bidoofs for 1 HP EV and Starlys for 1 Speed EV
Oreburgh Mine: Onixs and Geodudes each for 1 Defense EV
Route 207: Machops for 1 Attack EV
Route 219: Tentacools for 1 Sp. Defense EV and Tentacruels for 2 Sp. Defense EVs (requires Surf)
Lost Tower on Route 209: Gastlys for 1 Sp. Attack EV

For HeartGold and SoulSilver players:
Slowpoke Well: Slowpokes for 1 HP EV (requires Surf)
Route 32: Ekans and Bellsprouts each for 1 Attack EV
Dark Cave, Route 31 Side: Geodudes for 1 Defense EV
Ruins of Alph: Natu for 1 Sp. Attack EV (requires going through the Union Cave)
New Bark Town: Tentacools for 1 Sp. Defense EV and Tentacruels for 2 Sp. Defense EVs (requires Surf
Route 29: Pidgeys and Ratattas each for 1 Speed EV

For Black and White players:
Route 1: Basculins for 2 Speed EV (requires Surf) and Patrats and Lillipups each for 1 Attack EV
Wellspring Cave: Roggenrolas for 1 Defense EV
Driftveil City: Frillishs for 1 Sp. Defense EV (requires Surf)
Celestial Tower: Litwicks for 1 Sp. Attack EV
Route 8: Stunfisks for 2 HP EVs (requires Surf)

     For faster training, you might also use the held item Macho Brace to double the EVs, and if your lucky enough to get the Pokerus on your pokemon, that doubles the EVs as well.  Other than that, the entire training process is lather, rinse, repeat until you max out your EVs.  In-game ways of checking that your EVs are maxed include getting the Effort ribbon on your pokemon when talking to the ribbon person in Sunyshore's Market in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum; the ribbon person in Blackthorn City for Heartgold and Soulsilver, or talking to the girl in the house north of the Pokemon Center in Opelucid City in Black and White.  Once you are done training your pokemon, you are ready to begin step 4.

Step 4: Leveling

     Leveling your pokemon is a vital part of getting ready for competitive battles, depending on which kind you are going for.  For Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver players going for WiFi battles, leveling is a step you can bypass unless you are wanting a level up move that you don't have yet.  For those games, battles on WiFi have an option to automatically set your pokemon to level 100.  However, for more localized battles, such as wirelessly with a friend or for a tournament at a nearby town, you will want to make sure your pokemon are of an adequate level.  With Black and White, players will need to have their pokemon at least to level 50, as the only option for level setting on WiFi in Black and White is Flat Battles.  Flat Battles set pokemon above level 50 back to 50, but does nothing to benefit pokemon lower than level 50.
     Generally, the best place for the experience to level your pokemon is battling and re-battling the Elite Four for your game, as they typically have higher leveled pokemon than any other in-game trainers.  However, the Vs. Seeker item in Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver my be seen by some as the better choice, as while you don't get as much experience, in the right areas, you can typically get more experience in a shorter amount of time means the battles aren't as challenging.  The held items Lucky Egg and Exp. Share are also handy tools for leveling your pokemon, as the Lucky Egg doubles the experience gained, and the Exp. Share allow a pokemon to gain experience without entering harm's way in battle.
     In Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver though, the ability to re-battle Gym Leaders is also useful for gaining experience for your pokemon.  For HeartGold and SoulSilver players, rematching the Gym Leaders may not always be the best option though, as it typically takes timing for calling them on your Poketch, and timing to get their number on your Poketch in the first place.
     For Black and White players, it is a little easier to level your pokemon with the use of the daily trainers you can challenge.  These include the trainers at the two stadiums Nimbasa City, the trainers in Black City for Black, the trainer in front of the ferris wheel in Nimbasa,  Game Freak Morimoto in Castelia City, the trainers for the rotation battles, in Black, or triple battles, in White, in Opelucid City, the trainers on the Royal Unova ship in the evenings from the Cruise Dock in Castelia City, Cheren on Victory Road, and the Elite Four.  With use of these trainers every day, leveling your pokemon in Black and White is not nearly as difficult as it sounds.
     In any game you play, the key to leveling your pokemon is persistence.  When you start on the leveling step, keep with it until the pokemon is at the level you want it to be for battles.  When you have reached that level, you are ready for the fifth and final step in this process.

Step 5: Testing and Battling

     Once you have your pokemon, you've trained it and leveled it, you're now at the step that you have been waiting for since you decided to get into the competitive field of the pokemon games.  From here, all you need to do is find someone to battle against with your pokemon.  With practice in battles, you'll learn what to expect from your opponents, see the fruits of your training on your pokemon, and maybe, with enough experience with battling against people, you will one day get your name known to the pokemon battling community.  The key from here on is to never give up, even when the odds may be against you.  Just keep your hopes up, keep with your ideas for your pokemon, and keep battling, as you will get better over time as you learn different strategies, analyze strengths and weaknesses, and get the experience you will need against other players.  I hope this guide has helped you get into the competitive aspect of the pokemon games, but before I leave you off, I'm sure some of you are curious how my Politoed's stats have grown.  So, as a final saying before his stats below and the end of this guide, good battling.

Pokemon: Politoed
Nickname: Yoshi
Gender: Male
Level: 100
Nature: Relaxed
Ability: Water Absorb
Item: Wacan Berry
HP: 344
Attack: 160
Defense: 202
Sp. Attack: 256
Sp. Defense: 276
Speed: 151
Moveset: Surf, Ice Beam, Hyper Voice, Mudshot