As hype continues to build for the seventh generation of Pokémon, a bit of a holy war has been spreading across the Internet: Which starter is the best starter? As the Rowlet, Litten, and Popplio camps throw shade at each other with a fervor that rivals Trump vs. Clinton, we here at Kyle’s Korner (and by “we,” I mean “me, myself, I, and my Toadette plush”) decide to try a scientific approach to determine which would be the most-advantageous starter to bring along on your romp across Alola.
Since we know nothing about stats or movesets at this point, we are left with inferring utility from the types of the three starting Pokémon. For this evaluation, we considered the types of the final evolutions of the three starters: Grass/Ghost (Rowlet), Fire/Dark (Litten), and Water/Fairy (Popplio). We then compared these against of the known types of the 7th-gen and Alolan-form Pokémon that have been released thus far. With this information, we can answer the following questions:
- Which type is hardest to find outside of the starters? If we assume that all Pokémon types are of equal utility and that we would at least like to have all of them available for use, which of the above six types are the hardest to find? The numbers break down like so:
Type Unique Pokémon Available* Grass 5 Fire 4 Water 5 Ghost 5 Dark 3 Fairy 10
*(Pokémon with the same type and from the same evolution line were only counted once. For example, Cutely and Ribombee were counted once, Grubbin, Charjabug and Vikavolt were counter twice because it switches from Bug to Bug/Electric, and Oricorio was counted four times because each form has a different type. Starter types were excluded.)
Unfortunately, there isn’t so much a clear winner here as there is a clear loser. Fairy-types appear to be a dime a dozen in Pokémon Sun/Moon (including all four of the Guardian Dieties), so if you don’t choose Popplio, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to catch other Water and Fairy types. On the whole, Litten’s Fire/Dark types would be the hardest to find out in the wild, but not by a terribly significant margin.
- How does the Pokémon match up against others in the game? Assuming that each starter gets at least one attacking move for each of their types, we can easily determine how many Pokémon they would be super-effective against (and conversely, which ones would be super-effective against them). The numbers are as follows:
Type Strong Against… Weak To… Grass/Ghost 16 Pokémon 20 Pokémon Fire/Dark 22 23 Water/Fairy 16 15
Once again, we have a clear loser: Grass Pokémon have a lot of weaknesses, and Rowlet’s evolutionary line pays dearly for them. The surprising number of Dark Pokémon that have been announced compound the problem by working against Rowlet’s eventual Ghost type. As far as a winner…well, Popplio & Co. have a negligible advantage over the Litten line, with the former sporting a +1 strong/weak count over Litten’s -1.
So what can we conclude from this (admittedly incomplete) analysis? While I’d hesitate to say anyone actually won this argument, it seems clear that Litten lost the least out of the trio. Its types are not well-represented amongst the Pokémon we’ve seen thus far, and it’s super-effective against the largest number of said Pokémon as well.
So if you’re still on the fence about which Pokémon to select as your first Alolan partner, go with the fire kitty, and tell your friends you made the decision based on SCIENCE. (And when the first challenge ends up being against a bunch of Rock-type Pokémon, you’ll know who to blame.)