Charmander is available as a starter in Oak’s Lab.
Chances are, even if you’ve never even played a Pokémon game in your life, you’ve heard of Charizard. In fact, it was even chosen as the favorite Pokémon by voters in an IGN poll. However, despite its awesome design, Charizard was never truly the force to be reckoned with that many people saw it as until Generation VI gifted it with two amazing Mega Evolutions. The ubiquitousness of Water-types in Kanto dampens the fire dragon’s destructive force, stopping its STAB Flamethrower from being an automatic win. Also, its double weakness to the Rock-type attacks makes it practically useless against anything carrying Rock Slide, Rock Blast, or Rock Tomb. However, despite its weaknesses to common attacking types, Charizard is certainly one of the best special attackers that you have access to in a Kanto Nuzlocke thanks to the insane power of its STAB Flamethrower, Fire Blast, or even Blast Burn. It suffers from relatively few move options in the early stages of the game, as well as weaknesses to both of the first two gyms, but once you get to level 34 and learn Flamethrower, there’s no stopping it. Of the three Kanto starters, Charizard is by far the most difficult to keep alive, as it has relatively low defensive stats and a lot of weaknesses as compared to the others, but its offensive inclination makes it very powerful and quite fun to use.
Rival (Oak’s Lab): Charmander has nice offenses but low defenses, as compared to Squirtle’s relatively high defenses but modest offenses. If you’re strategic with the timing of your Growls, you should be able to win this battle without having to use your Potion. You have the better attacking move in Scratch, though, so take advantage of that.
Rival (Optional, Route 22): Charmander should be easily able to handle Pidgey, but Squirtle’s STAB super-effective Bubble may pose a problem. You should be able to tank a few of those, but watch out for critical hits or speed drops. If you can, use something else against the Squirtle, just in case.
Gym #1 - Brock (Pewter City, Rock-type): Brock is actually quite difficult if you choose Charmander. The only surefire way to win, if you don’t have a Mankey or a Butterfree with Sleep Powder, is to grind your Charmander up to level 16, evolve it into Charmeleon, and then Metal Claw your way to victory. Don’t think that you’ll win just because you have Metal Claw, though; Charmander gets it at level 13, and at that level, it would get murdered by Brock’s Onix’s Rock Tomb. Do yourself a favor and evolve your Charmander before taking on Brock.
Rival (Cerulean City): By this time, you should have a Charmeleon, which should be more than capable of taking down your rival’s Pidgeotto, Rattata, and Abra. The Rattata hits pretty hard with STAB Hyper Fang and Quick Attack, though, so be careful. By now, your rival’s Squirtle has Water Gun, which hits significantly harder than Bubble. Don’t use Charmeleon against it unless you have to.
Gym #2 - Misty (Cerulean City, Water-type): Charmeleon is absolutely dead weight in this battle. STAB super-effective Water Pulse from Staryu will probably 2HKO, whereas the same attack from Starmie will probably OHKO. Try catching an Oddish or a Bellsprout (depending on which game you’re playing, as they’re version-exclusives) in either of the two routes north of Cerulean City.
Rival (S.S. Anne): Pidgeotto has the potential to be annoying, but not really dangerous. The worst thing it can do to Charmeleon is Sand Attack, as neutral Gust really won’t hit very hard. Raticate is still dangerous due to fast STAB Hyper Fang, but Charmeleon should be able to outspeed it and 2HKO or 3HKO with Ember. You’re probably better off using a physical attack against Kadabra, as though it’s fast and powerful, it folds easily to strong physical attacks. Don’t use Charmeleon against Wartortle unless you want it to die; STAB super-effective Water Gun hurts pretty bad.
Gym #3 - Lt. Surge (Vermillion City, Electric-type): Charmeleon really has no weaknesses or strengths against any of Lt. Surge’s Pokémon. You might want to use it if you taught it Dig, but even then, it might not OHKO (except for the incredibly frail Pikachu). Static is also very annoying. Seriously, though, just use Diglett.
Rival (Pokémon Tower): Pidgeotto, as always, is a non-issue. Exeggcute should be killed in one hit by Ember, but Growlithe will be significantly harder to take down, as it resists Fire-type attacks and has Intimidate to soften up any physical attacks you throw at it. Plus, it may even Roar you out. Kadabra is still dangerous, but can be dealt with rather easily with pretty much any strong move. You still really shouldn’t use Charmeleon against your rival’s Wartortle unless you want it to die, though.
Giovanni (Rocket Hideout, Ground-type): Charmeleon can probably 2HKO or 3HKO Giovanni’s first two Pokémon, Onix and Rhyhorn, with Brick Break. Rhyhorn’s best move is Stomp, so you don’t need to worry about that, but his Onix has Rock Throw, which can be a little dangerous. Its massive 160 base Defense also means you might not be able to KO it quickly even with super-effective Brick Break. His Kangaskhan may pose a large problem as well, since STAB Mega Punch from Kangaskhan’s base 95 Attack will put a dent in pretty much anything. If you really want to, you can do what Bruce did in the Pokémon Hard-Mode Comic and use Counter, but that’s extremely dangerous, and by no means advised.
Gym #4 - Erika (Celadon City, Grass-type): Get up to level 34 to have the easiest gym battle of your life. STAB super-effective Flamethrower off of Charmeleon’s base 80 Special Attack will one-shot Victreebel and Tangela for sure, and may even be able to score the OHKO on Vileplume. Vileplume’s pretty bulky, though, so don’t get your hopes up. Luckily, it can’t really do anything back to you, so you’ll be pretty safe. If you don’t want to grind up to that high of a level, spamming Ember should take care of Erika pretty quickly as well.
Gym #5 - Koga (Fuchsia City, Poison-type): You should have a Charizard by now. Unfortunately, both Koffings know SelfDestruct. Fortunately, both Koffings will die to a single Flamethrower. Weezing might not, but since it can’t explode, it doesn’t really pose too big of a threat. Muk is extremely bulky, but you should still be able to 2HKO or 3HKO it with Flamethrower, depending on what level you’re at.
Fighting Dojo (Saffron City, Fighting-type): Spam Wing Attack and/or Fly. Only the Machokes that some of the Black Belts use even have a chance of escaping the OHKO, and they can’t do anything back to Charizard. Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan both have pitiful physical defense and can’t really do anything back to Charizard.
Rival (Silph Co.): Flamethrower rips through Pidgeot in one or two turns, and will never not OHKO Exeggcute. Alakazam’s only attacking move is Future Sight, and can be KOed by Flamethrower or even Wing Attack rather easily. Growlithe is still annoying though not dangerous, and for the first time, you might be able to take on Blastoise head-on. Its best STAB move at this point is Water Gun. No, I’m not kidding. If you want, you can Wing Attack a couple times and then finish it off with Hyper Beam. Like a boss. But actually, Hyper Beam kind of sucks. Don’t use it.
Giovanni (Silph Co., Ground-type): Charizard can easily take on any of Giovanni’s Pokémon except for his Rhyhorn, which has Rock Blast. Kangaskhan and Nidoqueen are both very bulky and will be able to take several Flamethrowers before going down. Nidorino, on the other hand, will not.
Gym #6 - Sabrina (Saffron City, Psychic-type): Charizard does pretty well in this gym battle thanks to its good speed, strong attacking stats, and powerful arsenal of moves. It probably can’t tank more than one Psychic from Alakazam, though, so be careful.
Gym #7 - Blaine (Cinnabar Island, Fire-type): Charizard doesn’t do well here, but it doesn’t necessarily do badly, either. There’s a mutual resistance of STAB moves, so you’re going to be best off using Wing Attack or Dig. Charizard is a good switch in against Arcanine to stall out its incredibly powerful Fire Blasts, too.
Gym #8 - Giovanni (Viridian City, Ground-type): Giovanni leads with Rhyhorn. If you’re leading with Charizard, get it the hell out of there. Both of his Rhyhorns have Rock Blast, which will kill you in an instant. His Dugtrio falls pretty easily to a single Flamethrower, so no trouble there. Nidoking and Nidoqueen can only really do any damage to you with Normal-type attacks, so you should be able to beat them both handily unless you get crithaxed by either or parahaxed by Nidoqueen’s Body Slam.
Rival (Route 22, pre-Elite Four): As always, Pidgeot is easily taken care of with Flamethrower. It has Featherdance to sharply lower your attack, though, so be careful about that. When he sends out his Rhyhorn, make sure you switch out if you don’t want to get nailed with a 4x effective STAB Rock Blast. His Exeggcute is still extremely easy to one-shot with Flamethrower, and Growlithe is still rather annoying but not necessarily dangerous, as its best move is Take Down. Alakazam can be dangerous if you let it set up with Calm Mind, so make sure to KO it quickly. Even though Fly will do a lot as a result of Alakazam’s pitiful physical defense, it’s probably better to use Flamethrower or Wing Attack so that you don’t give it a free turn to potentially set up. Blastoise still doesn’t have Surf or Hydro Pump, but it does have Rain Dance now, so be careful or rain-boosted Water Guns.
Elite Four Lorelei (Indigo Plateau, Ice-type): Charizard can only potentially fight against Cloyster or Jynx. Lapras and Slowbro are both neutral to Fire-type moves and can retaliate with STAB super-effective Surf. Dewgong, her lead, actually resists Fire-type moves since it has the ability Thick Fat. Cloyster has awful Special Defense and should therefore be OHKOed by Flamethrower, and Jynx, while not necessarily specially frail, is weak to Flamethrower and should also be one-shotted.
Elite Four Bruno (Indigo Plateau, Fighting-type): Bruno’s two Onixes honestly would most likely go down to a single Fire Blast, but it’s not a good idea to risk it; his lead Onix has 4x effective STAB Rock Tomb, while his other Onix has Double Edge, and won’t even take recoil damage thanks to Rock Head. Just use a Water or Grass-type for these two. Charizard is quite good against both Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, but don’t let Hitmonchan escape the OHKO; it has both Counter and Rock Tomb, both of which will screw your Charizard up pretty badly. Machamp is bulky enough that it probably won’t be one-shotted by Wing Attack or Fly, and it also has 4x effective Rock Tomb. It’s probably best to let someone else handle Machamp.
Elite Four Agatha (Indigo Plateau, Poison-type): Spam Flamethrower. Gengar and Haunter are both very frail, and her first Gengar and only Haunter should go down to one or two Flamethrowers. Fire Blast or Blast Burn might be needed to score the OHKO on Golbat, Arbok, or the second Gengar, but none of them have much in the way of dangerous attacking options; their movesets are mostly designed to annoy. If you get put to sleep, make sure that you use an Awakening or the Poké Flute as soon as possible, as you might get hit with Dream Eater or Nightmare.
Elite Four Lance (Indigo Plateau, Dragon-type): Lance will lead off with a Gyarados, which Charizard really can’t do anything against. His two Dragonairs and his Dragonite both resist Fire-type moves and can hit back hard with STAB Outrage, so watch out for that. All three have the ability to chip away at your health with Outrage and then finish you off with Hyper Beam. If you want to fight these Dragon-types with Charizard, teach it TM02 Dragon Claw. It probably will 2HKO all of Lance’s Dragon-types. His Aerodactyl knows AncientPower, which will undoubtedly outspeed and OHKO your Charizard. Don’t give it that chance.
Champion Rival (Indigo Plateau): As always, your rival leads off with his Pidgeot. It has Sand Attack and FeatherDance to annoy, as well as Aerial Ace to attack and Whirlwind to shuffle. Two Flamethrowers should do the trick against it if you want to lead with Charizard. When he sends out Rhydon or Blastoise, switch to something else; Blastoise has Hydro Pump now, and Rhydon has Rock Tomb. Both of those are extremely dangerous and will probably one-shot your Charizard if you use it against them (unless if you have screens up). Arcanine is dangerous, as it has Intimidate to nerf your physical attacks and Extremespeed to clean up, as well as Bite for flinch-hax and Roar to shuffle. If your Charizard has Earthquake, now is the time to use it. Alakazam is also dangerous, and can set up Reflect to weaken physical attacks. Use a strong Fire-type attack on the first turn to determine if you outspeed, and if you outspeed and it hasn’t set up Reflect, go for a single-turn physical attack like Wing Attack or Earthquake. If you don’t outspeed or it does set up Reflect on the first turn, just spam Fire-type attacks until it dies. Last but not least, Exeggutor can be easily OHKOed by any strong Fire-type attack.
Post-Game: Mewtwo can crunch you much faster than the other way round and the League rematches are not too kind, Bruno excluded. Tread with caution.
Charmander starts off with Scratch and Growl, neither of which are very good. You might want to keep Scratch around for a while for situations where the opponent resists Ember or you simply want to conserve PP, though. At level 7, Charmander learns Ember, which is the main STAB move that it’ll be using for the majority of the early game. At level 13, Charmander learns Metal Claw, which is pretty much the only way for Charmander-choosers to win against Brock. It has decent power (base 50) and nearly perfect accuracy (95%). You should definitely evolve Charmander into Charmeleon as early as possible, at level 16, since Charmander really doesn’t get any good moves that Charmeleon doesn’t. At level 20, Charmeleon gets Smokescreen. This can be useful, but you should never really rely on hax, especially in a Nuzlocke. At least it's better than Growl. Scary Face comes at level 27, but it’s also kind of crappy, since the Charmander line is already fast enough. At level 34, you finally get Flamethrower, which is absolutely amazing. STAB Flamethrower absolutely decimates anything that doesn’t resist it. You can pretty much just spam it and watch things die. Don’t even delete Flamethrower for something like Blast Burn or Fire Blast, as the reliability of Flamethrower and its lack of drawbacks makes it Charizard’s best STAB option by far. Upon evolution, you’ll get Wing Attack, which is a very good secondary STAB attack that allows Charizard to be a good mixed attacker. Charizard gets Slash at level 44, which honestly isn’t that good. Charizard has a good movepool, so Normal-type moves are generally pretty inferior. Dragon Rage at level 54 comes way too late, as Dragon Rage is really only a good move in the early game, where it can OHKO or 2HKO almost everything. Finally, at level 64, Charizard tries to learn Fire Spin, which is absolute trash and should not be learned no matter what. Its secondary effect isn’t very good, its power is pathetically low, and its accuracy is the same as Focus Miss and Thunder. No thanks.
Charizard gets a few interesting moves through TM. It can learn Focus Punch, which works well with Substitute. The latter you can learn from a Move Tutor in Fuchsia City. Dragon Claw is a TM that comes somewhat late, in Victory Road, but it gives Charizard the invaluable ability to hit Lance’s Dragon-types super-effectively. It could be said that Toxic is interesting, but first of all, everything can learn it, and second, Charizard isn’t bulky enough to perform Toxic stall. Hidden Power might be alright if you have a Pokémon with Pickup that finds it, but it’s generally going to be a bit too weak to use. Sunny Day is worth a try, as it powers up Charizard’s STAB Fire-type moves to insane levels, but it also takes up a valuable moveslot that could be used for another coverage move. Hyper Beam is always an interesting option, but it is outclassed by Blast Burn, a Fire-type Hyper Beam clone that receives STAB and uses Charizard’s superior Special Attack stat that can be learned via Move Tutor. Iron Tail could see some use against Rock-types, but its low accuracy makes it rather risky. Also, it’s quite expensive to get, costing 3500 coins at the Celadon Game Corner. Return is always decent, but given the amount of coverage moves that Charizard gets, you’re going to be better off using it on someone else. Dig can be a nice coverage move, and you don’t have to worry about not being able to use it on something else, because you can buy multiple TM28s from the Celadon Department Store. This is pretty much the case with Brick Break as well, although Brick Break is more powerful and takes only one move to execute. If you’re dissatisfied with the lacking power of Dig, you can try using Earthquake on Charizard, but that TM is normally can see better use on something else. It does have the advantage of letting Charizard beat other Fire-types, though. TM35 and TM38 are both readily available to teach Flamethrower and Fire Blast, respectively. It’s best not to use the TM for Flamethrower on Charizard, as it learns it via level-up, but you might want to use Fire Blast for the added power. Beware of its low accuracy and PP, though. Aerial Ace is an upgrade to Wing Attack, as it never misses, but you’ll probably want to teach it to something else, as it’s often a valuable coverage move to Pokémon with shallow movepools such as Sandslash, Beedrill, and Dugtrio. Secret Power can be an upgrade to Scratch, but it’s outclassed by the numerous coverage moves that Charizard receives. Steel Wing is completely outclassed by Brick Break, and while Steel Wing sounds interesting, Fairy-type doesn’t exist yet in Generation III, so Steel-type coverage is rather useless. Overheat is available as an option if you need an option more powerful than Fire Blast and dislike the recharge turn that Blast Burn requires. The Charmander line can learn Cut, but please don’t do that to your starter. It deserves better than that. Charizard also gets Fly, Strength, and Rock Smash. Fly can be a decent replacement for Wing Attack (just remember to never use it on a Ghost-type, as they might use Destiny Bond), Strength is okay, but is inferior to Charizard’s many coverage moves. And, as we all know, Rock Smash is complete crap.
You can also get Counter, Double Edge, Mega Kick, Mega Punch, Rock Slide, Substitute, and the aforementioned Blast Burn through Move Tutors. Of all of those, only Double Edge, Rock Slide, Substitute, and Blast Burn are even worthy of consideration, at least late-game. Double Edge sees better use on something that gets STAB on it, Rock Slide is worth consideration if you want to beat Flying and Fire-types easier, Substitute is best with a move such as Focus Punch or Sunny Day, and Blast Burn absolutely wrecks house, but it is recommended to not use it unless you’re playing on Shift mode.
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.
Charmander 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 Rock Slide, Brick Break, or Earthquake. Careful, Impish, Jolly, and Adamant are pretty awful, as they cut Charizard’s Special Attack. Since Charizard is fast, a speed-lowering nature won’t do much harm. A defense-lowering nature also won’t be too bad, as Charizard strikes fast and hard and leaves little space open to counterattack.
At what point in the game should I be evolved? You should have a Charmeleon by the time you’ve started Mt. Moon (but it’s best to have it evolved by the time you face Brock), and you should have a Charizard around the time you’re done with Cycling Road.
How good is the Charmander line in a Nuzlocke? The Charmander line, like most starters, is awesome in a Nuzlocke. It’s very fast and strong, and its dual STABs along with its wide array of coverage moves can lay the hurt on pretty much anything. Charizard isn’t especially effective against many of the gyms or Elite Four members, but it has tremendous offensive versatility and can be a real powerhouse if used correctly.