To kick the list off, we have the Bulbasaur line, which appears first in the Pokédex. Since the debut of Red and Blue, Bulbasaur was considered to be the “easy” starter, as it made the early game a breeze, with its Grass STAB being super-effective against both Brock and Misty. However, this label of Bulbasaur being “easy mode” is in fact a load of Tauros faeces. While it’s true that picking Bulbasaur makes it fairly easy to obtain the first few badges, as it can OHKO pretty much everything Brock and Misty can throw at it while also being able to soak up hits from Lt. Surge and Erika, it starts to lose its luster around mid-game, when opponents start to use bulkier Pokémon. What’s unfortunate about the Bulbasaur line is that, while it has fantastic bulk and a good defensive typing that makes it immune to being poisoned (always helpful in a Nuzlocke), it often lacks the moves or the raw power to outright OHKO or 2HKO opponents, causing battles to generally turn into long, drawn-out affairs. It also lacks the ability to sufficiently damage opponents that resist its Grass-type STAB, as it learns no Poison-type STAB moves through level-up or TM until after the Elite Four. However, despite these offensive shortcomings, the Bulbasaur line is very useful in battles against difficult opponents, such as the Elite Four or gym leaders, thanks to its great defensive stats. While Bulbasaur isn't the easiest starter to carry to the top, it’s always a very reliable team member that can pull its weight throughout the game.
Rival (Oak’s Lab): Admittedly, this is probably going to be one of the most difficult battles of the entire run. Bulbasaur has better defenses while Charmander has better offenses and a better move in Scratch (40 power and 100% accuracy, compared to Tackle’s 35 power and 95% accuracy). You’ll probably have to result to either spamming Growl for most of the battle or using your Potion.
Rival (Route 22, optional): Please keep Bulbasaur out of this one if you value your starter’s life. Only have it in for Leech Seed, and then switch it right out, lest it get nailed by either STAB super-effective Gust from Pidgey, or STAB super-effective Ember from Charmander. Yeah, Bulbasaur doesn’t do too well in this battle. Good thing it’s optional.
Gym #1 - Brock (Pewter City, Rock-type): LOL Brock. Just get Bulbasaur up to level 10 for Vine Whip, and then spam it until you win.
Rival (Cerulean City): Unfortunately, your precious starter doesn’t fare too well in this battle. Your rival’s two best Pokémon, his unevolved Charmander and hack-evolved Pidgeotto, are still both strong against Bulbasaur/Ivysaur, so it is recommended to not use it against either of those two. It will definitely be able to take down Rattata, though, and literally anything sans Magikarp can handle Abra.
Gym #2 - Misty (Cerulean City, Water-type): If you’ve evolved your Bulbasaur by now, you should be able to easily handle Misty’s two stars. Staryu is a complete joke unless it gets lucky and confuses you with Water Pulse (which will barely do any damage thanks to Ivysaur’s resistance to it), and while Starmie is a little trickier, a combination of Leech Seed, Sleep Powder, and Vine Whip/Razor Leaf should do the trick. In fact, if you’re at a high enough level that you’ve already learned Razor Leaf, it’s probably not necessary to set up Sleep Powder or Leech Seed. The only thing you need to watch out for is confusion-hax from Water Pulse. Recover and Swift are non-issues, and all Rapid Spin might end up doing is remove Leech Seed, which shouldn’t be all too important anyway.
Rival (S.S. Anne): Again, keep Ivysaur out of this battle as much as possible. Charmeleon, Pidgeotto, and Kadabra all have powerful, super-effective STABS that will more than likely end up 2HKOing or possibly even OHKOing your starter. You can safely use Ivysaur for your rival’s Raticate, but be wary or poisoning it with PoisonPowder: it has Guts.
Gym #3 - Lt. Surge (Vermilion City, Electric-type): While Ivysaur most likely will not be mowing down any of Lt. Surge’s Pokémon with ease, it can be quite useful in this gym due to its resistance to Electric-type moves. Ivysaur may not be able to sweep this gym, but setting up Leech Seed early on Lt. Surge’s Pikachu and Raichu to deal consistent damage without needing to worry about evasion-hax (both have Double Team) can be extremely useful. Although, there’s really no reason to need to use anything other than Diglett for this battle.
Rival (Pokémon Tower): As always, keep Ivysaur away from Charmeleon, Kadabra, and Pidgeotto during this battle. Your rival’s Exeggcute knows no Psychic moves at this point in the game (its moveset it Hypnosis, Barrage, and Leech Seed), so Ivysaur is safe coming out against it; however, be warned, as you won’t be able to do much back to it without PoisonPowder. Gyarados is dangerous as usual, but Ivysaur’s bulk allows it to tank its Thrashes better than most. It’s probably just easier to teach Shock Wave to something and then one-shot the Gyarados with that, though.
Giovanni (Rocket Hideout, Ground-type): Ivysaur can OHKO Giovanni’s first two Pokémon, Onix and Rhyhorn, with ease, as they are both doubly weak to Ivysaur’s Grass-type STAB. His Kangaskhan, however, may pose a large problem; it even has Early Bird as its ability, which pretty much renders Sleep Powder useless. If you plan to sweep with Ivysaur, the best way to do so is setting up Leech Seed and then switching to a physically bulky Pokémon or one that resists Mega Punch. STAB Mega Punch from Kangaskhan’s base 95 Attack will put a dent in pretty much anything, and will probably kill the standard Ivysaur with a critical hit, so be careful!
Gym #4 - Erika (Celadon City, Grass-type): By this time, you should either have a high-levelled Ivysaur or a recently-evolved Venusaur. Either way, it should be able to soak up anything Erika can throw at it. STAB Giga Drain from her strong special attackers, which would normally be extremely dangerous, simply glance off of Ivysaur’s/Venusaur’s hide. With a double resistance to Grass-type moves, as well as an immunity to being poisoned via PoisonPowder, the Bulbasaur line is very useful against Erika and will even be able to fight back effectively if you teach it Secret Power or Return.
Gym #5 - Koga (Fuchsia City, Poison-type): For Venusaur, Koga’s gym trainers are much more dangerous than Koga himself. While the honorable ninja opts to use only Poison-types, Drowzees and Hypnos run amok in the parties of his gym trainers. Fortunately, once you get to Koga himself, Venusaur can more than hold its own. Thanks to its handy Poison typing, it is immune to being poisoned, and can therefore soak up all of the Toxics that it wishes. Of course, STAB Sludge from any of his Pokémon is going to hurt, but if you’re at a decent level, only his Muk should even have the potential to score even a 3HKO. His Weezing, fortunately, does not have SelfDestruct, but both of his Koffings do, so be very careful against them.
Fighting Dojo (Saffron City, Fighting-type): Venusaur can be used here without worry. Due to its secondary Poison typing, it resists Fighting, and can take Hi Jump Kicks and Sky Uppercuts all day. The elemental punches from his Hitmonchan may seem troublesome at first, but then you laugh at the pitiful damage the “super-effective” Fire/Ice Punch is doing and realize that you really shouldn’t worry about special-based moves from a Pokémon with 35 base Special Attack.
Rival (Silph Co.): His Pidgeot and Charizard obviously are extremely dangerous to your starter, but his Gyarados and even his Alakazam can be handled by Venusaur without worry. Alakazam’s only attacking move is Future Sight, which, in this generation, does not even take type matchups into account. Gyarados has also lost its fangs, as Thrash has been replaced by Dragon Rage and Leer. Exeggcute is kind of a gray area; it has STAB super-effective Confusion, but in all seriousness, Exeggcute isn’t very strong, and Confusion is a weak-ass move. Do whatever you want with that one.
Giovanni (Silph Co., Ground-type): Again, Venusaur simply poops on Giovanni’s Rhyhorn and Onix. Kangaskhan and Nidoqueen can theoretically be dealt with sufficiently by Venusaur, but you won’t have any super-effective moves to use against either of those two if you keep Venusaur out, so its your call. Razor Leaf can take care of both in a few hits, but only if you’re willing to also take a couple hits yourself.
Gym #6 - Sabrina (Saffron City, Psychic-type): Don’t use Venusaur in here. Simply put, it will die if it takes part in the gym battle. Every single one of Sabrina’s Pokémon has Psychic or Psybeam, and Venusaur can’t really do much back.
Gym #7 - Blaine (Cinnabar Island, Fire-type): Don’t use Venusaur here, either. Seriously. That should be a given. Thou shalt not use a Grass-type in a Fire-type gym. STAB super-effective Flamethrowers and Fire Blasts run rampant in Cinnabar Gym, and will easily 2HKO or OHKO your precious starter. Please just use a Water-type against Blaine. Please.
Gym #8 - Giovanni (Viridian City, Ground-type): Venusaur can easily one-shot both Rhyhorns and Dugtrio, but may encounter problems against Nidoking and Nidoqueen. The Nidoroyalty both have STAB Earthquake, which will hurt quite a bit. Venusaur will be able to tank a few of those, but be careful of those nasty critical hits.
Rival (Route 22, pre-Elite Four): Beware of Charizard, Pidgeot, and Alakazam, like normal. Rhyhorn can easily be OHKOed by Razor Leaf, so don’t even bother using Frenzy Plant or Sleep Powder or Leech Seed or really anything else. Exeggcute poses absolutely no threat to Venusaur, as its only attacking move is SolarBeam, which will do an absolutely pitiful amount of damage due to a double resistance. Gyarados is also kind of a joke now, since it can only attack with Hydro Pump or Twister, both of which are extremely weak against the very bulky Venusaur.
Elite Four Lorelei (Indigo Plateau, Ice-type): Venusaur should be amazing against Lorelei, but only if it can OHKO. Frenzy Plant and Razor Leaf will do very well against her. Frenzy Plant is recommended against Dewgong, her first Pokémon, but only if you’re playing on Shift mode. Razor Leaf might not OHKO, and would possibly leave you open to a STAB super-effective Ice Beam, which would hurt pretty bad. Cloyster is easily taken down by Razor Leaf, as it has garbage Special Defense. Slowbro may not be felled in one turn by Razor Leaf, but will be by Frenzy Plant. Use Frenzy Plant to make sure that it doesn’t use Amnesia or Ice Beam, both of which could be troublesome. Jynx should be handled by someone else, as its Ice Punch is STAB and super-effective and can probably score a 2HKO. Just let a strong physical attacker take care of her, since Jynx has awful physical defense. Lapras, her last Pokémon, is unbelievably bulky, and may not even be OHKOed by Frenzy Plant. It’s probably best to put it to sleep, Razor Leaf once, and then Frenzy Plant to score the KO.
Elite Four Bruno (Indigo Plateau, Fighting-type): Bruno’s two Onix are pathetic and can be one-shotted by Razor Leaf, but Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan both have high Special Defense, causing them to be surprisingly bulky from the special side. Repeated Strengths or Secret Powers should be able to take care of Hitmonlee, but don’t use physical attacks against Hitmonchan, as it has Counter. For Machamp, make sure to use Sleep Powder as soon as possible, and then start whittling it down with Razor Leaf or Strength. Just don’t let it start setting up with Bulk Up, as that’ll make it a complete monster offensively while also making it very difficult to take down.
Elite Four Agatha (Indigo Plateau, Poison-type): Though billed as a Ghost-type user, every single one of Agatha’s Pokémon is Poison-type, while only three of her five are Ghost-types. Honestly, Venusaur’s going to be pretty useless during this battle, since it can’t really do anything to her Pokémon except for use status moves. Fortunately, though, her Pokémon can’t really do anything to Venusaur, either, so it’ll pretty much just turn into a stall-fest if you’re insistent upon using your starter for this battle. I wouldn’t recommend doing so, though.
Elite Four Lance (Indigo Plateau, Dragon-type): Venusaur can reliably take down Lance’s lead, his Gyarados, as it can’t do much to harm it apart from the Hyper Beam. Just be careful of getting into low health, as a Hyper Beam can probably knock you from slightly below half health to 0. His Dragonairs are both fine to take on if you don’t mind taking a very long time to kill them, as they both have Shed Skin to guard against Sleep Powder, and their Dragon typing means they’ll resist your Grass STAB. Using Strength should hopefully score a 4HKO or better on each of them. Aerodactyl and Dragonite both have STAB super-effective Wing Attack, which you’ll need to watch out for. Both will probably be 2HKOs or 3HKOs, depending on what level your Venusaur is.
Champion Rival (Indigo Plateau): As always, your rival leads off with his Pidgeot. It has Aerial Ace, so don’t even think about using Venusaur against it. Same with his Alakazam, which knows Psychic, and his Charizard, which has both Aerial Ace and Fire Blast. His Gyarados is a little bit less dangerous than Lance’s, as it has Thrash instead of Hyper Beam, but you’ll still need to be careful, as those Thrashes, combined with Gyarados’s Dragon Rage, can really hurt. Exeggutor has no Psychic-type moves, but since it resists Grass-type moves and is relatively bulky on the physical side, it’s not really advisable to use Venusaur against it, as it’ll just turn into a stall-fest. Exeggutor is immune to Leech Seed, courtesy of its Grass typing. Lastly, Venusaur can, of course, take Rhydon out in one hit with either Razor Leaf or Frenzy Plant.
Post-Game: Ain’t nobody got time for post-game crap. Maybe this will be compiled later.
Bulbasaur starts off with Tackle and Growl. Growl sucks, of course, but Tackle might be worth keeping for a while, as Bug-types, Poison-types, and Flying-types that resist its Grass STABs are very common in the early game. At level 7, Bulbasaur gets Leech Seed, which is an amazing move that is definitely worth keeping throughout the entire game. It’s extremely useful for stalling things out, and supplies a good amount of residual damage as well as gradual healing. At level 10, you’ll get Vine Whip to fill that last moveslot, and it’s the main STAB that you’ll be using until either level 20 or level 22. At level 15, it will try to learn both PoisonPowder and Sleep Powder. Sleep Powder is undoubtedly the superior move, but PoisonPowder can also be useful. The best move is probably picking Sleep Powder over Growl and refusing to learn PoisonPowder, as the SleepSeed strategy is extremely useful for taking down tough opponents. You may want to halt evolution until level 20, which is when Bulbasaur learns Razor Leaf, but there’s really no point, since Ivysaur gets the very same move only two levels later. Razor Leaf is undoubtedly superior to Vine Whip, so you should definitely replace Vine Whip with it. Despite not being the broken crit-hax machine that it was in Generation I, Razor Leaf is still going to be the STAB move that you’re going to want to keep throughout the duration of the game. At level 29, Ivysaur will try to learn Sweet Scent, which is only ever really helpful against Double Team or Minimize spammers. Learning it is not recommended. After evolving into a Venusaur at level 32, it won’t learn any new moves until level 41, which is when you get Growth. Growth honestly isn’t very good, and is nowhere near the awesome set-up move that it is in the fifth generation. It’s probably not the best idea to learn it. At level 53, Venusaur will try to learn Synthesis, which isn’t too useful unless you have an added clause that limits healing item usage during battle. It’s just a weather-dependent, Grass-type Recover with fewer PP. SolarBeam comes at level 65, if you ever get that far, and is good if you’re willing to either run Sunny Day or wait through the charge up turn. Also, unless you’ve overtrained a ton, this probably won’t even come until after you beat the Elite Four. It’s probably better to just stick to Razor Leaf.
In the TM and HM department, Venusaur doesn’t really get anything good. It learns Toxic, but then again, so does everything else. Bullet Seed, which you can find the TM for in Mt. Moon, is a suitable replacement for Vine Whip, but it has a pretty equal chance to be stronger or weaker than it, so it really depends on what you want. You can try using Hidden Power, but you’ll need something with Pickup to find the TM for it, and even then, it might have a bad typing or a low power anyway. Sunny Day, which you can find in the Safari Zone, pairs up very well with SolarBeam, but SolarBeam doesn’t come until level 65, so you might want to save that combo for the post-game. Only Venusaur can learn Hyper Beam (Bulbasaur and Ivysaur are both unable since they’re not fully evolved), and it can be pretty useful thanks to it being a powerful finishing move that works very well if you’re on Shift mode. You can use the Protect TM that you find in the Power Plant to increase Leech Seed stalling, but there’s really no point if you keep Sleep Powder. Giga Drain, which you get after beating Erika, is very good, but you’ll have to invest a few PP Ups into it if you want to use it for a while; in this generation, it only has 5 PP as well as 60 power. You can find TM22 SolarBeam in Cinnabar Mansion, which may come in handy if you want to use it in tandem with Sunny Day; keep in mind, though, that Venusaur does learn SolarBeam by level-up. Earthquake is always worth a try, but you might want to use the valuable TM26 on something else, as Venusaur doesn’t really gain much by learning it. TM27 Return is also awesome, as it is significantly better than Strength, and Grass + Normal coverage pretty much hits everything but Steel-types neutrally at worst. Sludge Bomb is an awesome secondary STAB, but unfortunately, the TM for it comes after the Elite Four. Secret Power should replace Tackle once you’re able to buy the TM for it from the Celadon Department Store, and it in turn should later be replaced by Strength.
Frenzy Plant and Double Edge are amazing Move Tutor options that give Venusaur better power, but have nasty drawbacks. It’s up to you if you want to use them or not.
Bulky Water-types: Generally speaking, it's always good to have a bulky Water-type or two on your team. With Venusaur around, though, you're missing out if you don't have a bulky Water. They work excellently in tandem: Venusaur can wall the Water-, Grass-, and Electric-types that Water Pokémon struggle with, and bulky Waters can handle the Fire-types that counter Venusaur.
Pokémon that can handle Poison-types: Poison-types are extremely prevalent in Kanto. Agatha, Koga, Team Rocket, and a fair amount of NPC trainers use them, and Venusaur struggles to deal much damage to them due to pure Poison resisting both of its STAB moves. While Venusaur almost always has the upper hand on common Poison-types such as Weezing and Arbok, its inability to take care of such Pokémon quickly and efficiently can prove to be a drain on PP, HP, and time. Psychic-types and Ground-types are therefore very good partners for Venusaur, as they can quickly dispatch bulkier Poison-types that Venusaur can't easily defeat. Other Pokémon that take Poison moves well and can hit back for massive damage, such as Gengar and Magneton, also sufficiently fit this role.
Offensive Fire- or Flying-types: As most of Venusaur's best moves are Grass-types, it has a difficult time beating Grass- and Bug-types. Offensive Fire- and Flying-types can generally OHKO or 2HKO these Pokémon with ease, allowing Venusaur to continue stomping through your opponent's team.
Glass cannons or setup sweepers: Venusaur is an excellent support Pokémon, with an arsenal of amazing moves such as Leech Seed and Sleep Powder. As such, it pairs up terrifically with glass cannons or sweepers that lack bulk but appreciate the support and switch-in opportunities that Venusaur provides.
Minimum stats are calculated with 0 EVs, IVs of 0, and a hindering nature, if applicable.
Maximum stats are calculated with 252 EVs, IVs of 31, and a helpful nature, if applicable.
Bulbasaur Line Ratings
What Nature do I want? Rash, Mild, and Quiet are all quite good. Modest may also seem nice, but keep in mind that it’ll lower the power of your coverage moves, such as Strength, Return, or Earthquake. Careful, Impish, Jolly, and Adamant are pretty awful, as they cut Venusaur’s already decidedly average Special Attack. Venusaur’s defenses are pretty solid, so it can afford to have a defense-lowering nature that in turn raises an offensive stat, such as Naughty or Mild.
At what point in the game should I be evolved? You should have an Ivysaur by the time you’re done with Mt. Moon, and you should have a Venusaur around the time you obtain the Poké Flute.
How good is the Bulbasaur line in a Nuzlocke? The Bulbasaur line, like most starters, is awesome in a Nuzlocke. It’s very difficult to take down, and despite its many weaknesses, it has the bulk to take a few super-effective attacks. It also learns a vast array of useful status moves, such as Sleep Powder and Leech Seed, making it an expert staller.