This guide was written for the Generation IV main series games, specifically Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. The explanations about the mechanics of EV training are accurate to just about any game from Gen III and later, but you will not be able to follow the actual walkthrough steps in any games other than DPPt. (You're welcome to read through the steps anyway and try to adapt them to other games on your own, of course.) I may write additional walkthroughs for other gens/games in the future.
Many EV training guides exist on the internet, and all of them do their best to explain EVs, IVs, natures and how the training process works. Several of these guides do not explain the concepts or the process well at all, or perhaps they have inaccurate information. Accurate and thorough EV training guides are out there, though, and so the fact that some people continue to claim that they don't understand how it works when those guides are available confuses me. The only explanation I can think of is that these other guides might look very technical and tedious to the casual reader, and that they find this off-putting.
To that end, I have written my own EV training guide using a different approach. Instead of trying to run through the theory and all of the math first and introducing multiple mechanics at once, this guide isolates EV training from everything else and walks you through a simple example that you can try yourself. You can't really get down to EV training properly without understanding at least some of the math and detailed explanations, and I will get into those later in the guide, but the difference between this guide and the others out there is that you'll understand the process and how simple it is before we start in on that. Actually having EV trained a Pokémon first should make the concepts easier to grasp.
Note that this article is about the act of EV training itself—it does not go into detail about competitive battling, the practical application of EV training, nor does it address other related matters like IVs, team selection, etc.. It does make brief mention of base stats in the context of looking at them when deciding how to go about training when you're ready to do it on your own, but that's it. It is not necessary to understand those things to understand EV training, and you don't need to be a competitive battler to use EV trained Pokémon. After finishing this walkthrough you may decide that you are interested in learning more about actual competitive battling, in which case it will be necessary to understand how EV training fits in with everything else. Those topics are beyond the scope of this particular article, but I will provide a few links at the end to get you started.
Table of Contents
- How to Use This Guide
- No-Nonsense, Hands-On EV Training Walkthrough
- How EV Training Works
- The Next Step
This guide, as mentioned above, introduces EV training in a more hands-on method before plowing through technical terms and explanations. The highly curious among you might be tempted to jump right in, but don't do that just yet. Instead, please work through the guide as follows.
1. Read the "No-Nonsense, Hands-On EV Training Walkthrough" section and follow the directions it outlines. Pay close attention to the two lists of required items/conditions and gather as many things from the second list as you can. If you don't have any then the walkthrough will still work, but it will take a lot longer to complete. Next, go through the walkthrough and follow its directions. If you have any of the extra training aides, click on "How to speed up this step" whenever you see it; if you don't, ignore that link. Either way, DO NOT click on any of the links that say "What is happening in this step".
This section is designed to show you exactly what someone does when they EV train, nothing but the simple "battle this guy X times, then battle that guy Y times" that EV training actually is, as proof that the process itself honestly is not rocket science or otherwise "too hard". The instructions should be easy for everyone to follow without forcing them to scrounge around for anything special (unless they want to) and will produce a result that, if they are so inclined, they could actually use with some degree of success in a competitive situation; that is why I chose the specific Pokémon and process that I did.
2. When you finish following all of the steps in the walkthrough (and any of the speed-up steps that were applicable to you) you will have successfully EV trained a Pokémon from start to finish. It should now be clear to you just how simple the the EV training process is. At this point you should move on to the next section, "How EV Training Works". That section will get into all of the details I intentionally avoided earlier; hopefully everything will make more sense to you now that you've actually trained a Pokémon. You might also want to head back to the walkthrough and click on the links that say "What is happening in this step" so that you can see the explanations actually applied to the example Pokémon you trained. After following the hands-on instructions and reading this section you should have a thorough understanding of the process and how to apply it to any Pokémon you would like to EV train.
3. The last section, "The Next Step", is really only important for people who would like to learn a little about competitive battling. A full, in-depth look at all of competitive battling's strategy, practices and terminology is beyond the scope of this guide (as are the mechanics of things like IVs and natures), so links to other sites with more detailed information on the subject will be provided instead.
These instructions only apply to Diamond, Pearl and Platinum (the Platinum instructions are slightly different but will produce the same result). A HeartGold and SoulSilver version of the guide may come in the future. The mechanics behind EV training are the same in Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen, but you will not be able to follow the training instructions below for various reasons; I may add a separate section for EV training in the third generation later. EV training (or, rather, "Stat Exp training") is handled completely differently in the first two generations, and so this walkthrough (and the rest of this guide) cannot apply to those games at all.
You will need:
- a Staravia that has never gained experience from a battle. Your best bet is to capture a fresh wild one on the Spring Path west of Route 214 (the path that leads to Sendoff Spring, Turnback Cave and Giratina), as those are level 50 or higher and battling with them will be easier. Level 50+ Staravia are rare in Platinum, so you may have to look for a while. You can use a Staravia of a lower level if you want, but you'll have to do a lot more switching around during battle. Gender, nature, shininess and all of that do not matter at this point; any Staravia will do as long as it is untrained.
- the VS Seeker. You'll be fighting a lot of rematches.
- to get the trainer Cyclist John to have his final team. Cyclist John is the fifth trainer from the top of Cycling Road (Eterna entrance), sitting just before the path forks. In Diamond and Pearl his final team is two level 58 Staraptor; in Platinum it consists of a level 57 Farfetch'd, a level 58 Dodrio and a level 59 Staraptor. If John does not have the correct team then you will need to capture or defeat Heatran at Stark Mountain (this triggers a flag that allows him to get to his final team) and then use a Pokémon that is NOT your Staravia to battle him repeatedly until he has that team.
- Pokémon that can defeat John's team with little difficulty. You may occasionally need them to get your Staravia out of a tight spot while training.
- a good number of Revives/Max Revives. If Staravia faints you'll need to take care of it immediately and before the battle ends.
If you want to speed up the process, you will also need access to at least one of the following:
- the Pokérus virus. Infect Staravia with it before starting the walkthrough. Pokérus is obtained by chance and is extremely rare, so most people never get it; you may be able to get an infected Pokémon from a friend, however, or find one on the GTS.
- a Macho Brace item. A boy in Pastoria City gives you this after you show him all three forms of Burmy (DP) or both a male and female Combee (Pt).
- a Power Anklet item. You can buy one with Battle Points at the Battle Area/Battle Frontier Exchange.
- a Power Bracer item. You can buy one with BP at the Battle Area/Frontier.
- a Power Weight item. You can buy one with BP at the Battle Area/Frontier. This is the least necessary item out of everything mentioned here, but it helps a little bit and you may want it for later if you decide to EV train more Pokémon.
Remember that you can still complete the walkthrough if you don't have access to any of the items in this second list; it will just take an inordinately long time.
Step 1: Get your Staravia, put it in the front of your party and Fly to Eterna City. Heal it at the Pokémon Center if it is injured.
Step 2: Leave Eterna by the western exit (Route 205, leading to Eterna Forest). You will see a bridge with four Fishermen on it. The one you want right now is Andrew; he is the uppermost Fisherman on the screen. Leave the other three Fishermen alone.
Step 3: If you have not yet battled Andrew for whatever reason, talk to him and do so. If you have already battled him before, use your VS Seeker until he wants a rematch (again, ignore the other three Fishermen). Either way, battle Andrew now. Use only your Staravia to defeat all six of his Magikarp. Staravia should be at level 14 or higher and all of the Magikarp are level 10 (or around level 10 in Platinum), so the battle should be ridiculously easy.
Step 4: Using your VS Seeker and going back to Eterna to heal/restore PP whenever necessary, battle Andrew forty-one more times, again using only your Staravia. Yes, forty-one (41), you're reading it right. It will take a while. Watch TV or something while you do it; just be sure you don't lose count of the number of times you've battled him. If Staravia gains enough experience to evolve into Staraptor while you are doing this, that's fine. It won't affect anything and presumably you're going to evolve it anyway.
The following items/conditions will reduce the number of times you need to fight Andrew:
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus. An infected Staravia/Staraptor will only need to battle Andrew 21 times.
- Let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Macho Brace. A Staravia/Staraptor holding Macho Brace will only need to battle Andrew 21 times.
- Let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Power Anklet. A Staravia/Staraptor holding Power Anklet will only need to battle Andrew 8 times, plus another 2 times with no item or 1 time with Macho Brace (total 9 or 10 times).
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus AND let it hold a Macho Brace. An infected Staravia/Staraptor holding Macho Brace will only need to battle Andrew 10 times, plus another 1 time with the Macho Brace removed (total 11 times).
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus AND let it hold a Power Anklet. An infected Staravia/Staraptor holding Power Anklet will only need to battle Andrew 4 times, plus another 1 time with the Power Anklet removed (total 5 times).
You can also let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Power Bracer while battling Andrew. This on its own will not do much to change the number of times you need to fight him, but it will drastically reduce the number of times you need to battle Cyclist John later. If you choose to do this, let Staravia/Staraptor hold the Power Bracer for the first 10 battles (5 with Pokérus), then remove it. You can then continue battling Andrew the remaining 32 times (16 with Pokérus) with no item; alternatively, if you have Macho Brace or Power Anklet, let Staravia hold it now. At this point a Macho Brace Staravia/Staraptor will only need to battle Andrew 16 times (8 with Pokérus), while a Power Anklet Staravia/Staraptor will only need to battle him 6 times (3 with Pokérus). In the case of Power Anklet, remove it and battle Andrew 2 more times (1 more time with Pokérus OR if you then give it a Macho Brace). You can now move on to Step 5.
You are battling Andrew's Magikarp because they give Speed EPs that will make your Staraptor faster. Magikarp gives out 1 Speed EP and Andrew has 6 Magikarp on his team, giving you a total of 6 Speed EPs every time you battle him. 6 times 42 is 252, the exact number of EPs you need to max out Staraptor's Speed; therefore, after battling Andrew 42 times, your Staraptor will be as fast as it can possibly be at its level.
For those who used the methods in "How to speed up this step":
- The Pokérus condition doubles the EPs gained in battle, giving you 2 Speed EPs from each Magikarp and 12 total each time you battle Andrew, so you only need to fight him half as many times (21 instead of 42).
- Macho Brace doubles EP gain in the same manner as Pokérus, again reducing the number of battles from 42 to 21.
- Power Anklet grants an additional 4 Speed EPs to its holder whenever that Pokémon gains experience. In this case, that means that Staravia/Staraptor gets 5 Speed EPs from each Magikarp and a total of 30 for every battle with Andrew. Battling Andrew 8 times will give 240 Speed EPs; if you remove the Anklet and battle him 2 more times with no item (or 1 more time with Macho Brace), you will get the remaining 12 EPs that give a grand total of 252.
- The EP-doubling effects of Pokérus and Macho Brace stack, quadrupling the EP gain from any battle. Each Magikarp will give 4 Speed EPs and battling all six will give you 24. Battling Andrew 10 times gives 240 EPs; when you remove the Macho Brace and battle him once more, you will get the last 12 EPs you need.
- Pokérus will again double the EPs gained from battle, but it will double them after the effect of Power Anklet is applied; this means that the 5 Speed EPs each Magikarp would normally give out with Power Anklet will be doubled to 10 EPs, resulting in a whopping 60 EPs every time you defeat Andrew. As with the above situations you will end up with 240 EPs after battling 4 times, so all that's left to do is remove the Anklet and let one more battle with Pokérus alone get you the final 12 EPs.
Power Bracer is similar to Power Anklet in that it adds an additional 4 EPs when its holder gains experience—the difference is that the Bracer always gives Attack EPs where the Anklet always gives Speed EPs. Battling Andrew 10 times with the Power Bracer will give 240 Attack EPs and 60 Speed EPs (battling him 5 times will give you the same result if Staravia/Staraptor has Pokérus with its EP-doubling effect). You can then battle Andrew however many more times you need to to raise Staravia/Staraptor's Speed EPs from 60 to 252, as described in "How to speed up this step". Then you will only need 12 more Attack EPs to get Staravia/Staraptor's Attack up to 252 as well, which only requires battling Cyclist John 2 times (just 1 time with Pokérus or Macho Brace).
Step 5: After you have battled Andrew a total of 42 times (fewer if you used the methods in "How to speed up this step"), heal if you need to and then save your game so you do not lose all of that hard work. Run around in the grass of Route 205 and, using your Staravia/Staraptor, battle six Bidoof, six Shellos or some combination of Bidoof and Shellos; battle exactly six of them, however, no more and no less, and do not battle any of the other wild Pokémon you will see. Do not even switch to a different member of your team to battle the Buizel and whatnot you will find; just run away from it if it is not a Bidoof or a Shellos. You cannot let Staravia/Staraptor gain experience from anything else at this point.
The following items/conditions will reduce the number of times you need to battle wild Bidoof or Shellos:
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus. An infected Staravia/Staraptor will only need to battle 3 Bidoof/Shellos.
- Let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Macho Brace. A Staravia/Staraptor holding Macho Brace will only need to battle 3 Bidoof/Shellos.
- Let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Power Weight. A Staravia/Staraptor holding Power Weight will only need to battle 2 Bidoof/Shellos: one while holding the Weight and the other with no held item.
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus AND let it hold a Macho Brace. An infected Staravia/Staraptor holding Macho Brace will only need to battle 2 Bidoof/Shellos: one while holding the Brace and the other with no held item.
Your Staraptor needs 6 HP EPs; both Bidoof and Shellos give 1 HP EP each, so battling six of them will give you the amount you need.
For those who used the methods in "How to speed up this step":
- Pokérus doubles EP gain, so you only need to fight 3 Bidoof/Shellos instead of 6.
- Macho Brace also doubles EP gain, so you only need to fight 3 Bidoof/Shellos instead of 6.
- The Power Weight is another "Power" item, this one giving 4 extra HP EPs every time experience is gained. Therefore, the first Bidoof/Shellos you battle will give you 5 HP EPs, and removing the Weight and battling one more will get you the 6th HP EP.
- Combining Macho Brace and Pokérus quadruples EP gain, so the first Bidoof/Shellos you fight will give you 4 HP EPs. Remove the Macho Brace and battle one more Bidoof/Shellos, and Pokérus will double that last EP and give you a total of 6.
Notice that I didn't suggest combining Pokérus and the Power Weight. You've probably guessed that the Weight's additional 4 EPs and Pokérus's doubling effect will give you 10 EPs from one Bidoof/Shellos, so you would only need to battle 1 of them and not 2, 3 or 6. This is true, but it's overkill—you only need 6 EPs, not 10. Since you can only give a Pokémon a maximum of 510 EPs total, you need to be careful and make sure that you allocate those points wisely. The 4 extra EPs that this puts into HP means 4 EPs that you can't put anywhere else (in this case Attack, since that's the only other stat we're trying to improve), and Staraptor needs the Attack more than it needs the HP. As I said in the section "How EV Training Works", 4 EPs adds up to 1 extra point in the stat; if you think that that one little misplaced point is negligible, then by all means use the Pokérus/Power Weight combo and don't worry about it. For those who really want to be careful about it, though, stick with one of the methods I outlined above.
Step 6: After defeating the six Bidoof/Shellos (or fewer if you used the methods in "How to speed up this step"), heal again if need be and then get on your bicycle. Head south to Cycling Road and find Cyclist John. If John does not have the team Staraptor level 58/Staraptor level 58 (Diamond and Pearl) or Farfetch'd level 57/Dodrio level 58/Staraptor level 59 (Platinum), battle him with something that is not Staravia/Staraptor until he does, as mentioned in the list of things you will need. Use Staravia/Staraptor to battle John's final team a total of 42 times. If Staravia/Staraptor is under level 50 you'll probably have to send it out, switch it for something else and then bring it back in again when John chooses his next Pokémon. If Staravia/Staraptor faints, revive it immediately before defeating whatever knocked it out and then send it back in to battle the next Pokémon. Staravia/Staraptor MUST gain experience from all of John's Pokémon every single time.
The following items/conditions will reduce the number of times you need to fight John:
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus. An infected Staravia/Staraptor will only need to battle John 21 times.
- Let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Macho Brace. A Staravia/Staraptor holding Macho Brace will only need to battle John 21 times.
- Let Staravia/Staraptor hold the item Power Bracer. A Staravia/Staraptor holding Power Bracer will only need to battle John 18 times in Diamond and Pearl or 14 times in Platinum.
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus AND let it hold a Macho Brace. An infected Staravia/Staraptor holding Macho Brace will only need to battle John 10 times, plus another 1 time with the Macho Brace removed (total 11 times).
- Infect Staravia/Staraptor with Pokérus AND let it hold a Power Bracer. An infected Staravia/Staraptor holding Power Bracer will only need to battle John 9 times in Diamond/Pearl or 7 times in Platinum.
If you equipped Staravia/Staraptor with a Power Bracer while battling Andrew's Magikarp earlier (detailed at the end of Step 4's "How to speed up this step"), you will only need to battle John 2 times total (only once if you have Pokérus or let Staravia/Staraptor hold a Macho Brace).
Be aware that holding the Macho Brace or Power Bracer (or any item with "Power" in its name other than Power Herb) will halve Staravia/Staraptor's Speed when in battle! Temporarily halved Speed is the price you have to pay for the beneficial effects of these items. This does not matter much when battling something useless like Magikarp or low-level Bidoof/Shellos, but John's Pokémon are strong and fast and if its speed is reduced even a level 50+ Staravia/Staraptor will struggle against them. If you want to hold one of these items, consider starting with Staravia/Staraptor and switching out to a stronger, unencumbered Pokémon, then switching Staravia/Staraptor back in when John sends out his next battler.
All of John's Pokémon give Attack EPs that will bolster your Staraptor's Attack stat. In Diamond and Pearl he has two Staraptor that give 3 Attack EPs each, while in Platinum his Farfetch'd gives 1 Attack EP, his Dodrio gives 2 Attack EPs and his Staraptor gives 3 Attack EPs; either way, you will end up with a total of 6 Attack EPs each time you defeat John (3+3 in DP or 1+2+3 in Pt). 6 times 42 is 252, the exact number of EPs you need to max out Staraptor's Attack; therefore, after battling John 42 times, your Staraptor will be as physically strong as it can possibly be at its level.
For those who used the methods in "How to speed up this step":
- The Pokérus condition doubles the EPs gained in battle, giving you 2 Attack EPs from Farfetch'd, 4 EPs from Dodrio and 6 EPs from any Staraptor; this results in a total of 12 Attack EPs each time you fight John, so you only need to fight him half as many times (21 instead of 42).
- Macho Brace doubles EP gain in the same manner as Pokérus, again reducing the number of battles from 42 to 21.
- Power Bracer grants an additional 4 Attack EPs to its holder whenever that Pokémon gains experience. In this case, that means that Staravia/Staraptor gets 5 Attack EPs from Farfetch'd, 6 EPs from Dodrio and 7 from any Staraptor, giving a grand total of 14 (7+7) for every battle with John in DP and 18 (5+6+7) in Platinum. You'll get all 252 Attack EPs if you battle John 18 times in DP or 14 times in Platinum.
- The EP-doubling effects of Pokérus and Macho Brace stack, quadrupling the EP gain from any battle. Farfetch'd will give 4 EPs, Dodrio will give 8 EPs and all Staraptor will give 12, so battling all of John's Pokémon will give you 24. Battling John 10 times gives 240 EPs; when you remove the Macho Brace and battle him once more, you will get the last 12 EPs you need.
- Pokérus will again double the EPs gained from battle, but it will double them after the effect of Power Bracer is applied; this means that Farfetch'd will give 10 Attack EPs, Dodrio will give 12 EPs and all Staraptor will give 14 EPs, resulting in 28 (DP) or 36 (Pt) EPs every time you defeat John. DP players will only have to fight John 9 times to get 252 EPs, and Platinum players will only have to fight 7 times.
If you used the Power Bracer while battling Andrew earlier, Staravia/Staraptor should now have 240 Attack EPs, 252 Speed EPs and 6 HP EPs (498 EPs total). Battling John twice without Pokérus or any held item (only once with Pokérus or Macho Brace) will give you the 12 Attack EPs you need to give Staravia/Staraptor 252 Attack and 510 total, completing the EV training. You could also battle him once with Power Bracer and get 14-18 Attack EPs (14 in Diamond/Pearl, 18 in Platinum); this is more than you actually need, but it doesn't matter this time as those extra EPs will just be ignored once you hit 510.
Step 7: When Staravia/Staraptor has battled John and gained experience from all of his Pokémon 42 times (fewer if you used the methods in "How to speed up this step"), save the game and then Fly to Sunyshore City. Enter the Sunyshore Marketplace and, with Staravia/Staraptor at the front of your party, speak to the woman behind the bottom-left counter. If she says that your Pokémon has worked very hard and gives it an Effort Ribbon, you are ready to move on; if she says that you need to "work a little harder", go battle John or Andrew one more time and then come back. Keep doing this until she gives Staravia/Staraptor the ribbon.
Speaking to the woman in the Marketplace runs a script that checks to see how many EPs the first Pokémon in your party has. If it has 510 EPs she will give you the Effort Ribbon. If it has 509 EPs or fewer she will tell you to "work a little harder", meaning that you need to battle more Pokémon until you reach 510. If you followed the directions in this walkthrough correctly and you were careful to keep track of the number of times you battled each opponent, she should give you the ribbon. If she doesn't give it to you then you miscounted something while training. If you think you know which opponent you miscounted on, go and rebattle them to fill in the gap; if you aren't sure then just pick either Andrew or John, since Staraptor needs Attack and Speed more than it needs HP. Either way, this woman is the only way to be absolutely certain that you've successfully finished EV training a Pokémon.
Step 8: If for whatever reason your Staravia has not evolved into Staraptor, go train it until it does. You do not have to battle only John, Andrew or wild Bidoof/Shellos; now that Staravia has the ribbon you can battle whatever you want, or maybe just use a Rare Candy if you have an extra sitting around. You could even put it in the Daycare if you don't mind spending the money. Whenever you're finished with your training, put Staraptor into a PC box and then withdraw it again. If you really, really don't want a Staraptor then you don't have to evolve it, but you should still place Staravia into the box and then withdraw it again anyway.
Presumably you'll want to use a fully-evolved Pokémon when battling other people, so just finish off whatever experience Staravia needs to evolve it into Staraptor. Now that Staravia has used up all 510 of its EP slots it can't gain any more EPs, so nothing it battles can mess them up or give it any EPs that you don't want it to have; you're free to battle whatever you want (or use a Rare Candy or the Daycare, which don't grant any EPs at all anyway).
Whether or not you choose to evolve Staravia, you'll want to put it in a PC box and withdraw it again. As you now know, 4 EPs in any one stat gives an extra 1 point to that stat. Since you can put a maximum of 255 EPs in any stat (we generally just use 252, since that's divisible by 4 and 255 is not) you will end up with 63 extra points in Staravia/Staraptor's Attack and Speed after EV training (and an extra 1 point in HP). But due to the way that the game handles stat calculation at each level, not all of those points will be evident right away. You won't see all 63 points until Staravia/Staraptor is level 100, whether it gets there naturally or is temporarily elevated to that level using Wi-Fi's autoleveling function. Furthermore, not all of the extra points will be applied to Staravia/Staraptor's stats as soon as you gain them. The game has to recalculate stats before it can apply them. It recalculates stats every time a Pokémon gains a level, and it also recalculates them every time a Pokémon is placed in a box. Depositing and withdrawing Staravia/Staraptor will force that recalculation, applying however many extra points it should have at that level; it may not be all 63 if it isn't level 100, but it will still result in higher stats than if you hadn't deposited Staravia/Staraptor first.
Step 9: Congratulations! You now have a fully and properly EV trained Staraptor (or Staravia) at some level or other. And guess what? It wasn't hard at all, just mind-numbingly time-consuming if you couldn't accelerate any of the steps. All you had to do was catch a Pokémon and battle two trainers and some wild Pokémon with it. Make sure Staraptor knows a Flying-type move (it might already have Brave Bird, but if that's not your style then try Aerial Ace or Fly), a Normal-type move (Return and Quick Attack are always good), maybe Close Combat and some other move; just make sure that all of its attacking moves are physical-class, not special-class moves like Hyper Beam. Take your new Staraptor and go crush your friends with it; if possible, compare its stats to those of a boring old normal Staraptor of the same or similar level and marvel at how much higher your new Staraptor's Attack and Speed stats are.
You've just EV trained a Staraptor. You battled some Pokémon, maybe shuffled a few items around, and then you battled some more Pokémon until I told you that you were done. Very simple… in fact, a little too simple. That whole process was nearly identical to the battling and training you normally do, only a bit more repetitive and anal. So what's the difference? What's special about the instructions that I had you follow, and how do they contribute to making your new Staraptor stronger than an untrained or casually trained one? How can you apply that technique to Pokémon other than Staraptor?
Let's start with an analogy. Say you want to run a race. You'll need to do some training beforehand if you want to have a shot at first place—specifically, you want training that will help you to run faster. Such training would generally involve, among other things like general exercise and watching your diet, doing some running on your own. The more you run, the faster you get over time, right? If you want to become physically stronger you would gain strength by doing exercises like lifting weights, right?
Pokémon that want to get stronger, faster or sturdier need to train and practice as well. Since the video games do not give us the option to send our Zangoose to the track or our Machamp to the weight room, battling other Pokémon stands in as a substitute. All Pokémon, when defeated, give general experience points that help your Pokémon gain levels. But they also give another kind of experience, one that is more analogous to specific workouts like jogging or weightlifting. These "special experience points" are known as Effort Points, or EPs. The total number of effort points a Pokémon has gained is called its Effort Value, or EV. EV training, what you've just done with your Staravia, is the practice of controlling the EPs a Pokémon gains so that it ends up with a specific EV at the end. (You will often hear EPs referred to as EVs, as in "I battled a Grovyle and got 2 Speed EVs". This is technically incorrect as the two terms are not interchangeable, but it's a mistake that a lot of people make, myself included more often than not. You should be able to understand what they're talking about without a problem.) EVs and EPs are hidden numbers that the game will not show you, just like a Pokémon's level of happiness, so it's up to you to keep track of the EPs you've gained. A few simple notes on a piece of paper or in a text document should be enough.
Pokémon have six main stats that come into play during battle: Hit Points (HP), Attack, Defense, Special Attack (Sp. Atk), Special Defense (Sp. Def) and Speed. All of these stats rise steadily as a Pokémon advances in level, starting out low at level 1 and rising to much higher numbers by level 100. All of the stats rising at a relatively equal pace, which is what generally happens with a Pokémon that gains no EPs or gains them from a wide variety of opponents, is all well and good if you want a fairly balanced Pokémon, but what you'll end up with is a jack of all trades, master of none. Pokémon are generally more effective in battle if their training is focused in just a few stats instead of all over the place, just as you will become a better runner if you focus more on running than on weightlifting. That's where EV training comes in. EPs also fall into the same six categories that stats do; in a nutshell, if you want a Pokémon to grow stronger in a certain stat, you put more EPs into that stat than you do the others. The more EPs you invest in a stat's effort value, the higher that stat will be.
Each of the 493 Pokémon awards different EPs when you defeat it, so in order to get the type of EPs you're looking for you'll need to find a Pokémon that gives them out. For example, Magikarp gives 1 Speed EP while Dodrio gives 2 Attack EPs. Therefore, if you want a fast Pokémon you'll fight a lot of Magikarp, and if you want a Pokémon with good physical attack then you'll fight a lot of Dodrio. Staraptor is a Pokémon that has impressive Attack and Speed and gets even better after it has been EV trained in those stats; that's why I had you training it against Magikarp (for speed) and John's various Pokémon (all of which give out Attack EPs, like Dodrio does). There are plenty of other Pokémon you can battle to get Attack and Speed EPs—Zubat also gives 1 Speed EP, Hitmonlee gives 2 Attack EPs and Weavile gives 1 Speed and 1 Attack EP each. Other Pokémon give EPs for other stats, so you'd fight something else if you were looking to train Defense or HP. Check an online pokédex, like Psypoke or Veekun, to see precisely which EPs any specific species gives out. Don't worry about trying to remember all of the EPs given by all of the Pokémon; no one knows that stuff off the top of their head, and memorizing it isn't necessary. After you've been EV training for a while you'll find certain wild Pokémon locations or trainers that give you the best payouts for a certain type of EP, and information like that is all you'll need to remember. There are also numerous guides on the internet that will point out such high-yield locations for you. These two guides, written by Butterfree of the Cave of Dragonflies, are excellent places to start: D/P VS Seeker and Platinum VS Seeker.
You can't just pick a few Pokémon that give the desired payout and start knocking the stuffing out of them indescriminately, however. The game puts a limit on the total number of EPs a Pokémon can gain in each stat so they don't keep growing indefinitely. A Pokémon can have a maximum of 510 EPs, after which it will stop getting them from defeated opponents, much the same as a level 100 Pokémon stops gaining experience points. Furthermore, an additional limit of 255 EPs per stat exists—you can't give your Staraptor 300 Attack EPs, because it will stop gaining them once it hits 255 and the remaining 45 will simply be wasted. The overall limit of 510 EPs means that it is not possible to give your Pokémon 255 EPs in each of its six stats (255 * 6 = 1530, not 510) and that at most you can max out two of those stats, assuming you don't put any EPs in other stats as well. You must always be conscious of this limit and choose which stats you are most concerned about improving, then focus your training efforts only on those stats.
Next, it is important that you understand how the EPs you gain make your Pokémon stronger. It takes 4 EPs to add up to one extra point in a Pokémon's stat. If I have an Aerodactyl with an Attack stat of 200 and I give it 4 Attack EPs, Aerodactyl's Attack stat will go up to 201. If I give it 4 more its Attack will be 202, another 4 and its Attack will be 203, so on and so forth. As you can probably guess, this means that you can have, at most, 63 extra points in any one stat: 4 goes into 255 63 times with 3 extra EPs left over.
The way the game calculates EPs and stats means that not all of these points are used right away. If a normal level 1 Aerodactyl has, say, an Attack stat of 8, and you gave it 255 Attack EPs (for 63 extra points), you'd have a level 1 Aerodactyl with a ridiculously high 71 Attack. That's more than a little unfair in the lower levels, don't you think? That's why the game limits the number of gained EPs that are added to a Pokémon's stats at each level, waiting until the Pokémon is level 100 to give it the benefit of all 63 extra stat points. Pokémon that have had their level temporarily elevated to 100 using Wi-Fi's autolevel function will also have all 63 extra points.
Note that the EPs you gain at any level will not be immediately evident when you look at your Pokémon's stat screen. The game won't acknowledge those EPs unless it recalculates the Pokémon's stats first. You can force this recalculation to occur very easily. The game recalculates stats whenever a Pokémon gains a level, so you can just give your Pokémon enough experience to reach the next level and see the improved stats. Depositing a Pokémon into the PC also recalculates stats; using the PC to recalculate stats is commonly called the "Box Trick". You generally don't have to bother with this while you're in the middle of training, as you can just trust that the EPs are there and doing their thing, but you should always be sure to get the stats recalculated after you're finished.
I mentioned earlier that Pokémon get effort points when they defeat enemies in battle. Specifically, these EPs are awarded at the same time experience points (EXP) are awarded. Easy enough to understand, although this does mean that there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
First of all, since EPs go hand in hand with EXP, all Pokémon that gain EXP from an opponent will also gain EPs from that opponent. If, for example, I send an Eevee into battle against one of Andrew's Magikarp, then recall the Eevee and send out a Pikachu to knock the Magikarp out, both Eevee and Pikachu will get experience and EPs. This can make the process of EV training low-level Pokémon a little easier, allowing you to bait-and-switch them or even use an EXP Share to give them EXP and EPs while keeping them out of harm's way. It is important to note, however, that EPs are not split between participating Pokémon. Where EXP is divided evenly between all participants—so if the Magikarp Pikachu defeats gives out 42 EXP, then Pikachu gets 21 EXP and Eevee gets 21 EXP—each participant gets the full amount of EPs that opponent gives. In this example, both Eevee and Pikachu would get 1 Speed EP, not half of an EP (which isn't possible anyway).
Second of all, this means that a Pokémon that does not gain EXP from a battle will not gain EPs from that battle, either. In addition to meaning that you won't get EPs from Wi-Fi battles, wireless battles or battles in places like the Battle Frontier, this means that level 100 Pokémon cannot gain EPs from defeated opponents. Level 100 Pokémon stop gaining EXP entirely because they've reached their maximum level, and since the game skips awarding them EXP when they finish a battle it will also skip giving them any EPs. Generally you want to finish your EV training before the Pokémon grows to level 100, ensuring that you're still able to gain all of the EPs you need.
Finally, EPs only come from experience gained in battle. Rare Candies will raise your Pokémon's level the way EXP does, and leaving a Pokémon in the Daycare will also give it EXP, but as your Pokémon is not defeating any actual opponents there is nothing for it to gain EP from. This is why you may have heard people say that raising a Pokémon using only Rare Candies and not battles will result in a weaker Pokémon—it won't have any EPs to add points to its stats. If you've already finished EV training your Pokémon, however, then you're free to use as many Rare Candies or spend as much time in the Daycare as you like. Your Pokémon won't be getting any more EPs from battle anyway, so it works out to the same thing and your Pokémon will not suffer for it.
Battling Pokémon isn't the only way to gain EPs, though! It's the primary way and the one that you will be relying on most of the time, but you do have another option available to you: vitamins. These are the items usually only available to you in the game's department store or, very rarely, scattered on the ground, although in more recent generations they have also been obtainable in other ways. They are almost always difficult to get your hands on, usually costing a hefty 9800P in stores. According to the descriptions of these items, they raise a Pokémon's stats. What the vitamins really do is give that Pokémon an additional 10 EPs in the listed stat. The vitamins and the stats they raise are as follows:
- HP Up: Raises a Pokémon's HP EV by 10.
- Protein: Raises a Pokémon's Attack EV by 10.
- Iron: Raises a Pokémon's Defense EV by 10.
- Calcium: Raises a Pokémon's Sp. Atk EV by 10.
- Zinc: Raises a Pokémon's Sp. Def EV by 10.
- Carbos: Raises a Pokémon's Speed EV by 10.
Buying a whole bunch of vitamins and feeding them to your Pokémon sounds like an easy way to EV train it in a short period of time. Why even bother with all of that battling in the first place? As nice as it would be to just buy about 25 of one vitamin and be done raising that stat, it doesn't work that way. Vitamins cannot be used to raise a Pokémon's EV in any one stat over 100. This means that you can give a Pokémon a maximum of 10 of one kind of vitamin, and that's only if the Pokémon doesn't already have any EPs in that stat—a Pokémon that has already gained 20 Attack EPs via battling will only be able to consume 8 Proteins before it will refuse to take any more, and a Pokémon that has gained 110 Attack EPs through battle won't even take one. If you're going to use vitamins when EV training, you'll need to make sure that you give your Pokémon the necessary vitamins before you start battling (and make sure that you've got enough money to afford all the vitamins that you'll need!).
Vitamins have another interesting quality worth noting: they work on Pokémon that have reached level 100. That level 100 Pokémon would still have to have fewer than 100 EPs in a stat to use the vitamins, and since they still don't gain EXP or EPs from battle it isn't possible to max out any of their stats at 255 EPs, but you can at least raise their stats by a little bit.
What happens if you make a mistake while EV training and put too many EPs in a stat, or put EPs into a stat you don't intend to raise? What if you have a Pokémon that already has EPs for one reason or another, and you'd like to be able to "start over" and EV train it properly? How exactly would you go about using vitamins on a level 100 Pokémon, since presumably it would've gained a large number of EPs while leveling up? In these situations you would want to remove the EPs that Pokémon already has. For a good while this was impossible, and in games as recent as FireRed and LeafGreen trainers who messed up while training were forced to stop raising that Pokémon, get a new one of the same species and start over. When Emerald was released, however, six items had their effects changed to prevent this. Six berries that, in Ruby and Sapphire, had no effect other than serving as Pokéblock ingredients were altered so that they worked like "reverse vitamins" and lowered the EPs in a specific stat by 10. The six berries and their corresponding stats are:
- Pomeg: Lowers a Pokémon's HP EV by 10.
- Kelpsy: Lowers a Pokémon's Attack EV by 10.
- Qualot: Lowers a Pokémon's Defense EV by 10.
- Hondew: Lowers a Pokémon's Sp. Atk EV by 10.
- Grepa: Lowers a Pokémon's Sp. Def EV by 10.
- Tamato: Lowers a Pokémon's Speed EV by 10.
Growing enough of these berries to erase a Pokémon's EPs can be time-consuming, especially if a Pokémon has a maxed-out EV. Thankfully, they were given an additional modification. If a Pokémon has an EV of 111 or higher in a stat and you give it the berry that will lower that stat's EV, that first berry will remove however many EPs it takes to reduce that EV to 100 even—if it has an EV of 111 then the first berry will remove 11 EPs, and if it has an EV of 255 the first berry will remove 155 EPs. From the 110th EP downward the berry will have its usual effect of lowering the EV by 10, meaning that you should never need more than 12 of one berry to completely clean out a Pokémon's stat.
These six berries also raise the Pokémon's happiness by 2, making them useful for happiness evolutions. If you're planning on EV training something like a Blissey or a Crobat, though, I would advise using these for happiness-evolution purposes before starting the training so that you don't erase all of your hard work.
Reducing Training Time Even Further
Even if you're able to give your Pokémon vitamins you may still have as many as 155 EPs to put into a Pokémon's stat by battling. It's not too bad if you're able to find a consistent source of Pokémon that can give out 3 EPs in one stat, but that's still 52 Pokémon to knock out for that one stat. And considering that Pokémon with a 3-EP payout in one stat are relatively rare and you might have to go a little while between battles, you may end up having to settle for 1-EP Pokémon like Magikarp—and battling 155 Magikarp is insanely tedious. Certainly those of you who had to battle Andrew 42 times (that's 252 Magikarp!) while following the walkthrough can appreciate that. This is where we come back to that "If you want to speed up the process" list at the beginning of the walkthrough. I didn't explain why those things were beneficial at the time, but now we're going to get into how they all work.
First up is the oldest of the EV training aides: Pokérus. Introduced in Gold, Silver and Crystal, Pokérus is a virus that is very, very rarely found on wild Pokémon; there is only a 3 in 65536 chance that any given wild Pokémon will have Pokérus, but it will retain Pokérus if caught or can be spread to a Pokémon that defeats it. You can then spread the disease to your other Pokémon as you please. Pokérus doubles the EPs a Pokémon gains in battle. Defeating a Magikarp with an infected Pokémon will give 2 Speed EPs instead of 1, for example, while defeating a Dodrio would give 4 Attack EPs instead of 2. In the interest of space I won't go into more detail about the nuances of the condition, but you can read more about it in Bulbapedia's Pokérus article. I will say that chances are good that you will never naturally encounter Pokérus in your game, but with the advent of Wi-Fi trading and the Global Trade Station it might be possible to get a Pokémon with Pokérus from someone else.
For those of you who don't have access to Pokérus, the Macho Brace item has an identical effect. Let a Pokémon hold it and its EP gain will be doubled. The tradeoff for this "free Pokérus" is halved speed while the Pokémon is holding it, however, and so it may make battling more difficult if you're fighting stronger Pokémon. If you do have Pokérus then the Macho Brace can still be helpful, as its effect is applied before the effect of Pokérus and will stack with it. Defeating a Magikarp while holding a Macho Brace and infected with Pokérus will grant a total of 4 Speed EPs. A boy in Pastoria City gives you the Macho Brace after you show him all three forms of Burmy (DP) or both a male and female Combee (Platinum).
If doubling and quadrupling EP gain isn't enough, you want what are called the "Power" items. These items, one corresponding to each of the six stats, add 4 EPs to their respective stats whenever a Pokémon is defeated in addition to whatever EPs you would normally gain. It doesn't matter what the opponent was or what the other EPs might be–a Power item will always give the same 4 EPs to the same stat. This makes them useful for training two or more stats at once; alternatively, use the Power item that matches the stat you are training to gain even more EPs in that stat than you normally would. The six Power items, all of which are available at the Battle Area for BP, are:
- Power Weight: Gives 4 HP EPs after defeating a Pokémon.
- Power Bracer: Gives 4 Attack EPs after defeating a Pokémon.
- Power Belt: Gives 4 Defense EPs after defeating a Pokémon.
- Power Lens: Gives 4 Sp. Atk EPs after defeating a Pokémon.
- Power Band: Gives 4 Sp. Def EPs after defeating a Pokémon.
- Power Anklet: Gives 4 Speed EPs after defeating a Pokémon.
To give an example, if I give my Pokémon a Power Bracer and have it defeat a Magikarp, my Pokémon will gain 1 Speed EP from the Magikarp and 4 Attack EPs from the Bracer. If I let it hold a Power Anklet instead it will gain a total of 5 Speed EPs. Be careful when using these items, however, as they will also halve the holder's Speed stat during battle. On the plus side, these can also stack with Pokérus. Holding a Power Bracer while infected and then defeating a Magikarp will give 2 Speed EPs and 8 Attack EPs, for example. A combination of Pokérus and the Power items is generally the fastest way to gain EPs through battle.
That about does it for the explanation—now you should understand what EPs are, how you get them and how to make getting them a lot less painful. At this point you should be able to read back through the walkthrough and understand all of the steps you went through; you can also look at the "What is happening in this step" links for a little extra in-context clarification if you need it. If you're still curious about EV training and would like to work on a Pokémon other than Staraptor, though, then you might want a little help figuring out how to train it. How do you know which stats you want to focus on for any given Pokémon?
The answer to that question depends on what you intend to do with that Pokémon. Pokémon generally fall into two broad groups: offensive Pokémon that are meant to do damage, and defensive Pokémon that are meant to hinder opponents in one way or another. You can go on and on about all of the different variations of offensive and defensive strategies, and you'll want to look at different EP distributions for each one, but for the time being you should start by thinking about whether your Pokémon's primary purpose will be attacking or defending.
If you don't already have a preference, or if you want to be absolutely certain that you're tailoring your training to your Pokémon's natural strengths, you'll want to check out your Pokémon's base stats. In a nutshell, base stats are hidden numbers that determine how high a Pokémon's actual stats (the ones you see on the status screen) can get. Since base stats are hidden numbers you'll need to check an online pokédex like the ones I mentioned earlier to see them. Every member of a species has the exact same base stats—all Zangoose have 115 base Attack, all Slowpoke have 15 base Speed and all Shuckle have 230 base Sp. Def, for example. Each of the six stats has its own number, and the higher that number is, the better that stat will be. I won't go into how base stats figure into the calculation of a Pokémon's actual stats, as you can follow the links I provide at the end and read more about that on your own, but all you need to know for now is that they can help you determine what a Pokémon is already good at.
Find your Pokémon's base stats and compare them to one another. As a general rule you want to focus on the highest stats and refrain from investing any EPs in its lowest stats, especially if they're really, really low compared to the rest. You might think that investing in the lower stats can help shore up a weakness, and in some cases this is true, but part of EV training is learning where to draw the line—at some point, a stat is so low that even the extra EPs won't make enough of a difference to be worthwhile. Lucario, for example, has 115 base Sp. Atk and 110 base Attack. Its Sp. Atk is higher, but only by a small margin, and 110 is still a fairly high number. You could safely have Lucario focus on physical attacks, special attacks, or even a combination of both. Staraptor, on the other hand, has 120 base Attack and 50 base Sp. Atk. You could try boosting its poor Sp. Atk stat, sure, but it will consistently do less damage than it would if you focused your efforts on its Attack instead.
In addition to the base stats you should also keep your strategic plans in mind. What moves do you want to teach the Pokémon? Is it supposed to use physical or special attacks, or is it supposed to rely on stalling opponents out with negative status? A look at Farfetch'd's base stats (52 HP, 65 Attack, 55 Defense, 58 Sp. Atk, 62 Sp. Def and 60 Speed) shows that it's fairly well-balanced. But check the moves it learns (again, a good online pokédex will have all this information) and you'll see that they lean more toward physical attacks: Slash, Night Slash, U-Turn, Steel Wing, Swords Dance to make them all stronger and so on. It has a lot more options that rely on its Attack than it does those that would benefit from high Sp. Def, and so you'd probably be better off making Farfetch'd's Attack as high as possible.
Now that you know which stats you want to raise you need to know how much you want to raise them by. The 510 EP limit means that, unless you're only looking to invest in two stats anyway, you can't max out everything you want to work on. At least one stat is going to have to get less than 255 EPs so that you have enough to put into another stat. Competitive battlers do quite a bit of math and complicated planning to create the perfect "EV spread" for their Pokémon, raising stats by the exact amount necessary to have the desired effect and no more, but newcomers don't need to concern themselves with that level of detail if they don't want to. (If you are interested, see the websites I link to at the end of the guide.) How you want to spread out the stats is largely up to you and the Pokémon you're working on, and given the variety of species and strategies there isn't much specific advice I can give without going into competitive detail. Experiment with a few different ideas on paper and see what sort of balance suits you and your strategy best.
Remember that you can put a total of 255 EPs in one stat, but it takes 4 EPs to make one additional point in that stat. 255 divided by 4 is 63 with 3 left over. If you max out two stats at 255, you've got a total remainder of 6 between them… which means you have at least another 4 that could be put toward a third stat instead of being split uselessly between two stats that are already maxed out anyway. Other situations that will result in a few wasted points might arise as you're planning. The maximum of 510 EPs means that it is impossible to divide it evenly without some sort of remainder somewhere (as 510 is not divisible by 4), but you can minimize wasted points by adding only the minimum necessary to a stat and then moving the rest somewhere else. The Staraptor you trained while following the walkthrough is a good example. Rather than focusing entirely on Attack and Speed, I also had you battling Bidoof and/or Shellos for HP EPs. The number of times you battle Andrew and John will result in 252 Attack and Speed EPs, which results in the same 63 points per stat that 255 would without wasting those 3 extra EPs. Battling the Bidoof and Shellos lets you put the extra 6 EPs in HP where, while they may not make a huge improvement, they are not entirely useless. 2 EPs are still wasted (and can really be crammed anywhere at this point), but wasting 2 is better than wasting 6.
There you have it. The EV training process in layman's terms with a clear example to follow. Now that you understand how it works, some of you may be interested in trying competitive battling, the practical application of EV training. If so, there's a lot more that you'll need to know about: Individual Values (IVs), base stats, natures, choosing the right moves and items, and how EV training ties in to all of those things and more. As stated in the beginning competitive battling and these other related topics are beyond the scope of this guide, so you'll need to do your own research on that. Smogon University is considered the premier competitive battling resource, but while written by people who really know what they're talking about Smogon's articles tend to be on the highly technical side and may not be best for someone just getting their feet wet. You'll probably want to start somewhere else and come back to Smogon after you've gotten a few battles under your belt. I'm still on the lookout for a beginner's guide to competitive battling that I find sufficiently clear and accurate; should you find one that you think is helpful, feel free to tell me about it so I can add the link to the guide.
These other pages, while not competitive battling guides in and of themselves, will provide you with extra information so you can start learning more:
- Bulbapedia's articles on game mechanics: Base Stats and Stat Calculation, Effort Values and Effort Points, Individual Values, Natures
I hope this guide was able to demystify EV training for you and that, at the very least, you can safely say that you do in fact get how it works. Maybe I've even managed to convince a few of you that it might be worth looking into a little deeper; if you still think you'd rather not bother with it then that's okay, too. If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line—I want this guide to be as clear and helpful as possible, and any input is appreciated.