In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
The Best Attacks in Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO uses a unique battle system only vaguely similar to the core games. You're still using attacks to deplete your opponent's health, and some elemental attacks deal extra damage against certain Pokémon types (like Water being good against Fire).
But now each creature only has two moves to choose from, a resource-accumulating quick attack, and a powerful but energy-depleting charge move. So, with hundreds of options available, which techniques deserve your attention? These are the strongest attacks for every type in Pokémon GO!
Quick: Quick Attack
Trainers debate whether DPT (damage per turn) or EPT (energy per turn) is better for quick moves; most agree EPT is ultimately more important. Enter Quick Attack, which swiftly stores energy while dealing respectable damage.
Charge: Hyper Beam
Since Normal doesn't score extra damage against anything, it's an uncommon offensive type, but that doesn't diminish the power of this daunting attack.
Most players agree Counter is the best quick move among all types. It deals incredible damage while still building energy at a fast rate.
Charge: Dynamic Punch
If not quite as noteworthy as Counter, Dynamic Punch is still an excellent technique. But note that optimal movesets can differ depending on whether you're attacking (which lets you strike rapidly) or defending (which has you attack at a fixed rate).
Quick: Air Slash
While a good move, Air Slash isn't found on all Flying-types; companions like Fearow might want Peck instead.
Charge: Sky Attack
This technique carries two chargeable bars, a nice in-between that's not as drastic as all or nothing single-bar attacks, but also not as spread out as three-bar moves.
Quick: Poison Jab
A close second to Counter, Poison Jab is an excellent move that builds lots of energy while still dealing fair damage.
Charge: Sludge Bomb
A surprising number of Poison-types can't learn Sludge Bomb, but Gunk Shot fills in the gaps nicely.
Quick: Mud Shot
Mud Shot is one of today's weakest moves, but it ranks above most of today's other attacks in terms of energy-building, letting you quickly attain your finishers.
Charge: Precipice Blades
Primal Groudon's exclusive attack is easily one of the game's best charge moves. For Ground-types who can't learn it, try Earth Power instead.
Quick: Rock Throw
Rock Throw reminds us that just because a move isn't great in the core games doesn't mean it's not worthy in GO, inflicting huge damage with moderate energy gain.
Charge: Rock Slide
Energy-efficient and widely available, Rock Slide is an easy pick. It's also commonly used by non-Rock types for added type-trumping prowess.
Quick: Fury Cutter
Closely rivaled by Bug Bite and Infestation, Fury Cutter nonetheless remains Bug's favored fast move.
Charge: Bug Buzz
Comparatively, X-Scissor has more power than Bug Buzz, but quickly chews through your energy stockpile, narrowly giving Buzz the edge.
Many Pokémon that learn Lick aren't actually Ghosts, so for true poltergeists, you might need Hex or Shadow Claw as your quick move. You can get Lick on Gengar (one of the game's best sweepers), but only through special events.
Charge: Shadow Ball
An easy choice, Shadow Ball is simply the best Ghost charge move, and many Psychic-types learn it to curb their weakness to it (Ghosts take extra damage from their own attacks).
Quick: Steel Wing
Some moves favor gym battles, others PVP (player versus player), but powerful attacks like Steel Wing are dominant in both.
Charge: Doom Desire
Doom Desire and Meteor Mash are both strong charge moves, but since they're rare, you'll often have to settle for Gyro Ball or Flash Cannon instead. Or, since Steel isn't a great offensive type, opt for variety with different elemental moves.
Quick: Fire Spin
Easy to learn, strong, and energy-building, Fire Spin's an excellent move in any game mode.
Charge: Blast Burn
Your Fire-type starters can learn this scorching attack through special events, but if you miss out on them, try Blaze Kick or Overheat instead.
Bubble's not as common in GO as the standard games, so you'll substitute Water Gun in its place.
Charge: Origin Pulse
Primal Kyogre's monstrous attack decimates foes, but Hydro Cannon and Hydro Pump also deserve mention.
Quick: Vine Whip
Vine Whip's better for energy, Razor Leaf for damage. And since energy usually wins out, Whip takes the cake.
Charge: Frenzy Plant
Another starter-exclusive event move, Frenzy Plant's technically king, but Solar Beam's availability means it'll usually serve as your main Grass attack.
Spark is a great offensive Electric attack, although it's less useful on defense thanks to the mode's fixed speed.
Charge: Wild Charge
Wild Charge is impressive enough to warrant usage even on non-Electric types like Delcatty.
Another easy pick, Confusion's an abundant move great for building energy.
Charge: Future Sight
Future Sight's a prime technique for the few Pokémon who can learn it. For Psychic-types that can't (like Gardevoir and Claydol), it's often best to use a charge move from a different type.
Quick: Powder Snow
One of the lengthier quick attacks, Powder Snow is ideal for defense. When attacking, it's often replaced with Water moves like Water Gun (which most Ice-types can learn) instead.
Almost every Pokémon that can learn Avalanche uses it as their charge move, showcasing its fierce power.
Quick: Dragon Tail
Another slow attack, Dragon Tail works well on defense, but it's not quite as impressive when attacking, especially since Dragon doesn't type-trump many threats.
Here's a case where the charge move is much better than the fast; despite its poor offensive element, many creatures select Outrage simply for its superior stats.
If you don't have Snarl available, Feint Attack is a very close second, dealing slightly more damage while building a bit less energy.
Charge: Dark Pulse
Many Pokémon that can learn Dark moves can also learn Ghost and would prefer Shadow Ball as their charge move. Still, Dark Pulse can help utilize a Dark Pokémon's STAB (same-type attack bonus), resulting in 20% additional damage.
The only Fairy quick move as of this writing, Charm is thankfully a good attack. However, since most Fairy Pokémon have yet to be implemented, many creatures choose other moves for STAB.
Charge: Dazzling Gleam
Unlike Fairy's singular quick move, we've got main attacks to choose from, with Dazzling Gleam being the best of the bunch.
Choosing Movesets in Pokémon GO
In addition to each move's stats, you'll want to consider STAB and coverage (having moves that can type-trump foes) when selecting your attacks. And remember that faster moves result in more damage on offense, but when guarding a gym, slower-but-stronger techniques take the cake.
Pokémon GO continuously adds to its roster and move pool, and we'll see how future updates alter the tier lists. But until its next generation, vote for your favorite type and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Carson on September 14, 2020:
I thought dragon claw was the best dragon type charge move not outrage, my dragonite has hurricane but can still absolutely kill teams
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on July 08, 2019:
Haha very understandable! Close Combat is quite strong, it just eats through energy so fast that Dynamic Punch usually results in more overall damage. Poor, chunky Hariyama can use it repeatedly without tiring : )
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on July 08, 2019:
Oh, heck! Here I am thinking Close Combat was the strongest fighting move and have been using it with my Hariyama. Dear sweet, dummy thicc Hariyama.
Great article, as always. Pokémon GO is still so much fun.