Best Pokémon Go movesets for attack and defense

What are the best movesets for Tyranitar, Dragonite, Snorlax, Rhydon, Gyarados, Blissey, Vapereon, Machamp, and other high-powered Pokémon? Here's your list!

Updated April 2017 Expanded and updated to reflect the latest finding on attacking movesets, including Blissey counters.

While it may seem like Combat Power (CP) or stats (IV) are the most important factors in Pokémon Go, movesets play an incredibly important role as well. That's the combination of the quick move and charge move your Pokémon uses in Gym battles.

The wonderful, terrible thing about movesets is that they're utterly random. If you catch or hatch a Snorlax, that's it. But if you evolve a Tryanitar, Dragonite, Gyarados, Blissey, etc. they're determined utterly at random when you hit the evolve button. That means your perfect IV Dragonair can become a less-than-ideal Dragonite with just one roll of the server-side dive.

But how do you know which movesets will help your Pokémon decimate Gyms and which will make every fight a drag? Here's the newly updated list!

Note: With Pokémon Go Gen 2, movesets and damage have been significantly changed. Some old movesets are now legacy — you can keep them if you already have them but you never get them again. Some have also become far less powerful than they used to be. Legacy moves that are still among the best will be noted below. Legacy movesets that are no longer effective have been removed.


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What are the best Pokémon Go movesets cheat sheet

If all you want is a quick reference for the absolute best moveset for the most powerful Pokémon (CP) in their most efficient roles (Attack/Defense) in Pokémon Go as the game stands today, here it is. (For more details and alternate movesets, keep reading below).

  1. Tyranitar: Bite with Crunch / Iron Tail with Crunch
  2. Dragonite: Dragon Tail with Outrage.
  3. Snorlax: Zen Headbutt with Hyper Beam. (Legacy: Zen Headbutt with Body Slam)
  4. Rhydon: Mud Slap with Stone Edge.
  5. Gyarados: Dragon Tail with Hydro Pump or Outrage.
  6. Blissey: Zen Headbutt Hyper Beam / Pound with Dazzling Gleam (or, seriously, anything).
  7. Vaporeon: Water Gun with Hydro Pump / Water Gun with Aqua Tail.
  8. Machamp: Counter with Dynamic Punch.
  9. Jolteon: Thunder Shock with Thunderbolt / Volt Switch with Discharge or Thunderbolt.
  10. Lapras: Frost Breath with Blizzard / (Legacy: Ice Shard with Ice Beam).
  11. Donphan: Counter with Earthquake / Counter with Rough Play.
  12. Espeon: Confusion with Future Sight / Confusion or Zen Headbutt with Psybeam.
  13. Exeggutor: Extrasensory with Solar Beam.
  14. Heracross: Counter with Close Combat / Struggle Bug with Close Combat or Megahorn.
  15. Alakazam: Psycho Cut or Confusion with Future Sight / Confusion with Shadow Ball (Legacy: Dazzling Gleam).

Again, many Pokémon have several ideal movesets, so keep reading for more!

What if you don't have the best movesets?

Movesets are like the lottery. Whether you catch, hatch, or evolve, you never know what you're going to get. Some Pokémon have upwards of six or more moveset combinations, some amazingly good, others terrible.

If you have an ideal moveset, it's great. You'll do the most damage in the least amount of time while maintaining the best ability to dodge. If you don't, not all is lost. You could still have the same type of moves, only less damaging or slower.

For example, Machamp with Counter and Dynamic Punch is one of the best attackers in the game. Machamp with Counter and Close Combat, though, is a fairly close second. Dragon Tail Outrage is the best for Dragonite, but Dragon Tail Hurricane isn't far behind.

Go for the best, but also make use of the rest.

What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Tyranitar?

Tyranitar has reset the bar when it comes to CP, rising higher even than Dragonite. That makes it a monster for both attack and defense. (Though a double weakness to fighting moves does hold it in check.) To get the most out of Dragonite, though, you really want:

  • Attack: Bite with Crunch or Stone Edge. Same type attack bonus (STAB) gives Crunch the double-dark win.
  • Defense: Iron Tail with Crunch. Outputs more damage, more quickly, even in bad matchups.

  • Counter: Machamp with Counter + Dynamic Punch. Goes through Tyranitar like Bruce Lee through a wooden board.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Dragonite?

Dragonite may not have the highest CP any more but it's still the best generalist in the game, and a monster for both attack and defense. (Glass-jaw double weakness to Ice moves not withstanding.) To really maximize Dragonite's potential, though, these are the best movesets:

  • Attack: Dragon Tail with Outrage or Hurricane. Dragon Tail does a lot of damage fast while Outrage just does a lot of damage and Hurricane is just fast. (Legacy: Dragon Breath with Dragon Claw.)
  • Defense: Dragon Tail with Outrage. Same as above. Damage. Damage. Damage.

  • Counter: Lapras with Frost Breath and Blizzard. Ice is a Dragonite's worst enemy.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Snorlax?

Snorlax isn't just a tank. It's mega-tank. It can take a beating while dishing out damage and that means anyone who goes up against a Snorlax is in for a tough battle. That said, some Snorlax are tougher than others. The best movesets are:

  • Attack: Lick or Zen Headbutt with Hyper Beam. Not fast but punishing.
  • Defense: Zen Headbutt with Hyper Beam. Super tough combo. (Legacy: Zen Headbutt with Body Slam, which is harder to dodge.)

  • Counter: Rhydon with Mud Slap and Stone Edge or Earthquake. But only barely. Machamp with Counter and Dynamic Punch.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Rhydon?

Rhydon received a significant boost in late 2016, with Pokémon Go's updated formula boosting its potential up above 3000 CP. That's made it much more popular in Gyms, as has its singular ability to soft counter Snorlax. (Only slightly offset by a double weakness to water and grass.) Here are Rhydon's best movesets:

  • Attack: Mud Slap with Stone Edge or Earthquake. Not the fastest but the only Pokémon that can go paw-to-hoof against Snorlax.
  • Defense: Mud Slap with Stone Edge. Still not the fastest but lots of damage, especially against those who don't dodge.

  • Counter: Vaporeon with Water Gun and Hydro Pump or Aqua Tail. They're plentiful and powerful.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Gyarados?

Gyarados is much more powerful now than it was when Pokémon Go launched, the updated formula shooting it up over 3000 CP. Because Gym position is CP based, that's made Gyarados a common tenant. (On the negative side, it's double weak against electric.) It takes 400 Magikarp candy to evolve but, once you do, here are the movesets you want:

  • Attack: Dragon Tail with Hydro Pump or Outrage. Fast and powerful.
  • Defense: Dragon Tail with Hydro Pump or Outrage. Dragon Tail packs more of a wallop than the old bite, Hydro Pump is still a cannon, and Outrage lets it go full-Dragon.

  • Counter: Jolteon or Amphoros. Take water, add a spark, watch it sizzle.


What are the best Pokémon Go moveset for Blissey?

Blissey is a tank's tank. A mega-tank. With MASSIVE amounts of HP, it's not just beating Blissey that matters, but beating it within the 90 second time limit. That means, essentially, Blissey has no bad movesets when it comes to defense. Blissey is the defense. (Except against fighting types, blessed double weakness there.) Still, there are always best-of-the-bests:

  • Attack: Pound with Hyper Beam. It can take a while but you'll get through anything.
  • Defense: Zen Headbutt or Pound with Dazzling Gleam. Dazzling Gleam is harder to dodge than Hyper Beam, making Blissey even more frustrating. But really, any Blissey moveset works on defense.

  • Counter: Machamp with Counter and Dynamic Punch. Dragonite with Dragon Tail and Outrage. Tyranitar with Bite and Stone Edge. Exeggutor with Extrasensory (legacy: Confusion) and Solar Beam.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Vaporeon?

Eevee are so common in some areas that almost everyone has access to a high-level Vaporeon or several. It can get to 3000 CP, though barely, but at any significant combat power, it's a force to be reckoned with. (Even if it's weak against grass.) Because it's a split evolution (Rainer trick aside), you won't always get a Vaporeon, and because it has a lot of possible combos, you won't always get the best moveset, but these are the ones you want to get:

  • Attack: Water Gun with Hydro Pump. Fast jab, devastating uppercut.
  • Defense: Water Gun with Aqua Tail. Also fast and frequent enough it can force more dodging — or damage.

  • Counter: Exeggutor with Extrasensory (Legacy: Zen Headbutt) and Solar Beam. (I also like Jolteon because it multitasks against Gyarados.)


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Machamp?

Machamp is the Gym-breaker. The Normal-crusher. The Tyranitar-slayer. With one early 2017 update, Pokémon Go plucked Machamp out of the also-rans and gave it a moveset that redefined the meta. Now, not only does it do serious damage to Snorlax and Blissey, it does devastating damage to Tyranitar... if it has the right moveset:

  • Attack: Counter with Dynamic Punch. It hurts two of the big seven defenders and devastates the highest CP Pokémon in the game.
  • Defense: Counter with Dynamic Punch. But you shouldn't be defending with Machamp anyway.

  • Counter: Espeon, Jolteon, or Flareon. But it's so opposite-of-a-tank that you can run over it with any high-powered attacker that's not Tyranitar or normal-type.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Lapras?

Lapras... ain't what it used to be. The late 2016 update skyrocketed other Pokémon ahead of it on the CP charts, and the early 2017 update sent Lapras tumbling down. But Lapras still has an ace-in-the-whole: Its bulk and ice attacks make it the best counter to the otherwise unassailable Dragonite.

  • Attack: Frost Breath with Blizzard. You get STAB and you get to shred Dragonite.
  • Defense: Frost Breath with Blizzard or Hydro Pump. The former annoys Dragonite, the latter surprises people not expecting a Vaporeon-style defender. Once. (Legacy: Ice Shard with Blizzard or Ice Beam.)

  • Counter: Tyranitar or Machamp. If you want variety, Flareon or Arcanine with Fire Fang and Fire Blast. They've been weakened but they still burn.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Jolteon?

Jolteon normally doesn't make these types of lists. Thanks to the late 2016 update, though, it's become more powerful. On paper, Amphoros may look better, but it's rarer to evolve and power up right now, so that keeps Jolteon on top of the electrics list. And that's important, because Vaporeon is weak and Gyarados is double weak against electrics, and those two are among the most common Gym defenders in the game.

  • Attack: Thundershock and Thunderbolt. It absolutely electrocutes Gyarados.
  • Defense: Volt Switch with Thunderbolt or Discharge. Not that anyone should be defending with Jolteon given the current game mechanics.

  • Counter: Rhydon with Mud Slap and Earthquake. It's not just a monster but it takes advantage of Jolteon's weakness to Ground-types.


What are the best Pokémon Go movesets for Exeggutor?

Exeggutor used to sit on Gyms but now, thanks to its lower CP, it can no longer stay there long enough to be useful as a defender. As an attacker though, its combination of Solar Beam and toughness make for a lethal combination. Yes, even against Blissey.

  • Attack: Extra Sensory (legacy: Confusion or Zen Headbutt) and Solar Beam. Solar Beam. It brings down the power of the sun.
  • Defense: Extra Sensory with Solar Beam (legacy: Confusion with Seed Bomb). But the CP just isn't there for it to be a real defender.

  • Counter: Dragonite with Dragon Tail and Outrage. Also, Flareon or Charizard with Fire Spin and Overheat.


How about that cheat sheet again?

  1. Tyranitar: Bite with Crunch / Iron Tail with Crunch
  2. Dragonite: Dragon Tail with Outrage.
  3. Snorlax: Zen Headbutt with Hyper Beam. (Legacy: Zen Headbutt with Body Slam)
  4. Rhydon: Mud Slap with Stone Edge.
  5. Gyarados: Dragon Tail with Hydro Pump or Outrage.
  6. Blissey: Zen Headbutt Hyper Beam / Pound with Dazzling Gleam (or, seriously, anything).
  7. Vaporeon: Water Gun with Hydro Pump / Water Gun with Aqua Tail.
  8. Machamp: Counter with Dynamic Punch.
  9. Jolteon: Thunder Shock with Thunderbolt / Volt Switch with Discharge or Thunderbolt.
  10. Lapras: Frost Breath with Blizzard / (Legacy: Ice Shard with Ice Beam).
  11. Donphan: Counter with Earthquake / Counter with Rough Play.
  12. Espeon: Confusion with Future Sight / Confusion or Zen Headbutt with Psybeam.
  13. Exeggutor: Extrasensory with Solar Beam.
  14. Heracross: Counter with Close Combat / Struggle Bug with Close Combat or Megahorn.
  15. Alakazam: Psycho Cut or Confusion with Future Sight / Confusion with Shadow Ball (Legacy: Dazzling Gleam).

Your best Pokémon Go movesets?

These are the best Pokémon Go movesets I've seen for the most frequent Gym attackers and defenders, based on the current dominance of CP in the sorting order. But that's by no means every Pokémon. If you have a favorite, CP-be damned, then let me know what it is and what moveset you is best for it!

If you want to delve more deeply into the subject, I'd also recommend:

Note: Some screenshots composited to reflect ideal movesets. Because RNG is evil and mean.