Zigzagoon can be found nearly everywhere in Hoenn; it is present on Routes 101, 102, 103, 104, 110, 116, 117, and in Petalburg Woods. Linoone can be found on Routes 118, 119, 120, 121 and 123 instead.
Zigzagoon is easily the most common Pokémon in Hoenn, essentially a guaranteed capture even for those not running duplicates clause. Its commonness makes it a very likely early game catch, and as a matter of fact, the early game is when this line shines; excluding the first two gyms, Linoone is a capable and reliable ally for the first half of the adventure, with a nice plethora of moves available. Unfortunately, it does lose some steam towards the later parts of the game, due to its stats being fairly average and its defensive prowess not so great, notwithstanding the pure Normal typing. Still, it can be a good asset and remains decent all the way to the end, which is remarkable for such an early catch.
Gym #1 - Roxanne (Rustboro City, Rock-type): Geodude and Nosepass are both far stronger attackers than Zigzagoon, due to their Defense and resistance to Normal moves. Zigzagoon should not be used in this gym, except potentially to use Baby-Doll Eyes on them once and then switch out.
Gym #2 - Brawly (Dewford Town, Fighting-type): No. Even a Charm Zigzagoon is exposed to critical hits from Machop's Karate Chop, and would need too many turns to nerf Attack and then outdamage Brawly's Pokémon. Zigzagoon should not be allowed to set foot in this battlefield.
Rival (Route 110): An already evolved Linoone should be able to dispatch Shroomish, Slugma and Wailmer safely and easily with Headbutt, with two to three hits each. Shroomish can be beaten with Pin Missile as well, which is also at worst a 3HKO (much more likely to be a 2HKO) against Grovyle. Combusken knows Double Kick; Linoone should not even come close. Marshtomp is difficult to beat, but possible; Headbutt hovers around the 3-4HKO range, but can 2HKO starting at +2 in Attack, and Linoone can set up with Hone Claws. Preferably, Linoone should use Slugma to set up, since it is the least threatening and annoying Pokémon on the rival's team.
Wally (Mauville City): Linoone can defeat Ralts very easily; Headbutt is a near-certain OHKO.
Gym #3 - Wattson (Mauville City, Electric-type): Linoone may have a good shot at this gym with a combination of Mud Sport, Hone Claws and Rock Smash. It should lead with Mud Sport, weakening Electric moves right away; after that, it should use Hone Claws once, which makes the Rock Smash 2HKO against Magnemite possible, as well as the 3HKO against Magneton very likely. Under the effects of Mud Sport, Magneton's Volt Switch deals up to about a quarter of Linoone's health, an amount that is easily surpassed by Rock Smash at +1 or better (Rock Smash may also lower Defense). Voltorb is 2HKOed by Headbutt instead. Note: Using Rock Smash in this matchup implies that Linoone will be stuck with the move until Lilycove City.
Tabitha/Shelly (Meteor Falls, tag battle with rival): Linoone should preferably not lead against Tabitha, since his Mightyena's Intimidate considerably downpowers its moves; Shelly's has Quick Feet instead, so Linoone is safe to lead against it. Mightyena is dispatched in a variable amount of turns with Pin Missile, usually two if Linoone's Attack is at +0; Koffing is tougher to beat, 3HKOable at best, and its Self-Destruct can deal up to about half of Linoone's health, while Grimer is simply 2HKOed by Dig. Numel should be 2HKOed with Strength instead of Dig, because it can use Magnitude. Carvanha is almost always OHKOed by Pin Missile.
Tabitha/Shelly (Mt. Chimney): Linoone can theoretically 3HKO Koffing with Strength, but needs to keep its health high throughout the fight, in the event that Koffing pulls a Self-Destruct. Strength also 2HKOs Numel, Dig 2HKOs Grimer, and Carvanha is a highly likely Pin Missile OHKO.
Maxie/Archie (Mt. Chimney): Linoone should not lead against Maxie's Mightyena, which has Intimidate, but can do so against Archie's, the one with Quick Feet. Pin Missile is most often a 2HKO against Mightyena at +0 in Attack; Linoone may be hit by Swagger during the battle, and if this happens, it should be kept healed from confusion to avoid self-inflicted damage, which is high after the Attack boost. Strength also 3HKOs Golbat, though Linoone should remain wary of confusion, which Golbat can cause with Confuse Ray. Sharpedo is averagely 2HKOed by Pin Missile, though Camerupt would take even two Digs and then KO with Earth Power.
Gym #4 - Flannery (Lavaridge Town, Fire-type): Linoone can 2HKO Slugma with Strength, or use Headbutt and hope that the first hit causes Slugma to flinch, preventing it from setting up Sunny Day or Light Screen. The same strategy can be used against Numel. There is no room for Linoone to set up before Torkoal comes out, however, so it should be switched out then.
Gym #5 - Norman (Petalburg City, Normal-type): The only possible contribution Linoone can give is through Dig; the move takes several turns to KO, however, and the PP will likely run out before even the first Slaking is down, unless Linoone is holding a Leppa Berry. With Dig, Linoone can also bypass the first Retaliate turn from the Vigoroth, attaining a workable matchup afterwards. Linoone is, however, highly unlikely to last until the second Slaking comes out, and Linoone with a Speed-lowering nature must be especially wary of it, since they may be outsped by Norman's ace.
Courtney/Matt (Southern Island, tag battle with Steven): Linoone can KO Camerupt in two turns with Surf; Koffing will be left standing, but can be KOed later with Strength if Linoone still has half of its health or more, and can survive a Self-Destruct. Sharpedo can be KOed in an average of two turns with Pin Missile, and Grimer is 2HKOed by Dig.
Tabitha/Shelly (Weather Institute): Linoone respectively 2HKOs Camerupt and Sharpedo with Surf and either Pin Missile or Thunderbolt.
Rival (Route 119): Slugma and Wailmer are still 3HKOed by Strength, while Shroomish and Grovyle are highly likely to be 2HKOed by Pin Missile. Combusken retains the upper hand with Double Kick, despite Linoone's Surf; Marshtomp still knows Bide, but the move can be bypassed with a +2 in Attack from Hone Claws, and then the Strength 2HKO.
Gym #6 - Winona (Fortree City, Flying-type): Swellow is 2HKOed by Thunderbolt, though Linoone may have trouble hitting it initially, since it will likely lead with Double Team; Pelipper is simply 1-2HKOed, and Skarmory is 2-3HKOed. Linoone should not fight Altaria, which will outpower it easily with Cotton Guard and Earthquake, and even recover HP during the fight with Roost.
Courtney/Matt (Mt. Pyre): Camerupt and Sharpedo are 2HKOed by Surf and Thunderbolt, respectively.
Rival (Lilycove City): Swellow is 2HKOed by Thunderbolt after getting past its likely Double Teams; Wailord may be 3HKOed with the same move, but only if Linoone remains above half health throughout the fight, as Brine will otherwise redouble in power and beat it. Magcargo is 1-2HKOed by Surf, while Breloom must be left alone, as its many Fighting moves are bad for Linoone. Sceptile may be 2HKOed with Double-Edge, if Linoone can take as many Dual Chops as needed as well as sustaining the recoil damage; Blaziken and Swampert are out of Linoone's league.
Courtney/Matt (Lilycove Hideout): Camerupt is once again 2HKOed by Surf, as is Sharpedo by Thunderbolt.
Gym #7 - Tate and Liza (Mossdeep City, Psychic-type): Linoone's performance against Lunatone is poor, as it can 3HKO with Shadow Claw at best but it gets 2HKOed by Psychic beforehand. It can manage to win against Solrock on grounds of outspeeding it, but needs a teammate to defeat Lunatone before it can enter the battlefield; Shadow Claw is also a 3HKO against Solrock.
Maxie/Archie (Seafloor Cavern): Neither lead Mightyena has Intimidate, so they can be 2HKOed with Play Rough. Linoone is outmatched by Crobat, both in Speed and damage, and would lose against it; similarly, Weezing's Sludge Bomb and Explosion are likely to beat Linoone if it attempts to put up a fight, and Muk would flat out 2HKO with Gunk Shot. Mega Camerupt is 2HKOed by Surf, but Mega Sharpedo would be 2HKOed only with Double-Edge, and Linoone cannot afford to take the recoil as well as the damage from Crunch.
Primal Groudon (Cave of Origin, Omega Ruby only): Primal Groudon is too strong for Linoone in every way possible.
Primal Kyogre (Cave of Origin, Alpha Sapphire only): Like Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre is far stronger than Linoone, and should not be fought.
Gym #8 - Wallace (Sootopolis City, Water-type): Linoone can solo this fight, but needs to set up Hone Claws against Luvdisc and be healed from confusion induced by Sweet Kiss and/or Water Pulse as it does so. At +5 in Attack, Linoone's Return is an OHKO against all of Wallace's team.
Wally (Victory Road): Linoone can either 2HKO Altaria right away with Ice Beam, or use Hone Claws first and 2HKO with Play Rough after that. The second option allows to OHKO Roselia and 2HKO Delcatty with Return, which would respectively be a 2HKO and a 2-3HKO without a boost in Attack; neither of them is good for setups, Delcatty due to Charm, and Roselia due to Leech Seed and Toxic. Linoone must be still healthy to defeat Magneton, 2HKOed by Dig, as its Discharge can 2HKO. Mega Gallade destroys Linoone upon sighting it.
Elite Four Sidney (Ever Grande City, Dark-type): Linoone needs a +2 in Attack to OHKO all of Sidney's Pokémon with Play Rough; it can set up against Mightyena with Hone Claws, minding Swagger if it is used, and keeping healed from confusion to avoid hitting itself.
Elite Four Phoebe (Ever Grande City, Ghost-type): Dusclops is only 3HKOed by Shadow Claw, and likely to use Curse before that happens; Linoone can defeat it, but will need to switch out afterwards. Using either Banette to set up Hone Claws and hit +2 in Attack is a good idea if Linoone can be healed from Toxic or Will-O-Wisp, since it is immune to their Shadow Ball; at +2, Shadow Claw OHKOs them, and Play Rough later OHKOs Sableye. Dusknoir can be 2HKOed by Shadow Claw starting at +2, as well.
Elite Four Glacia (Ever Grande City, Ice-type): Since the lead Glalie has relatively weak moves, Crunch being its best, Linoone can use Hone Claws and reach +3 in Attack, which allows it to OHKO the two Glalie with Return, and the two Froslass with Shadow Claw. While Froslass' Speed is higher than Linoone's, only specimens with Speed-lowering natures are likely to be outsped, since Linoone will be higher levelled. In order to fight Walrein, Linoone needs either three quarters of its health or more at +3 in Attack, which allows the Return 2HKO without having Linoone succumb to Blizzard, or a +5 in Attack, at which point Return OHKOs.
Elite Four Drake (Ever Grande City, Dragon-type): Altaria is good enough setup material if Linoone can be healed in-battle; it needs to reach +4 in Attack, or +5 with a detrimental nature, in order to OHKO all of Drake's team with Play Rough, even considering the cut given by Salamence's Intimidate. Altaria's Dragon Claw is a 4HKO, so Linoone should be able to finish the setup after replenishing its HP just once.
Champion Steven (Ever Grande City, Steel-type): Fighting against Skarmory is not recommended; although Linoone can be healed just fine, since Skarmory's Steel Wing - its best move - can 3HKO in the worst case scenario, Linoone's moves take forever to power up just enough to compare with it. Claydol also outpowers Linoone with Reflect and Earth Power, while Aggron's Iron Tail is even stronger than Linoone's Dig despite the type effectiveness; Cradily and Armaldo inflict far more damage than Linoone can hope to, and Mega Metagross can even OHKO with Giga Impact. Overall, Linoone should not enter this battlefield at all.
Post-Game: Not much here for Linoone to do except spam Play Rough, and even that will not accomplish a lot, with its very average Attack and the strength of the Pokémon involved in this segment. Linoone should not be used here.
Zigzagoon starts off with Tackle and Growl, and learns Tail Whip at level 5, as well as Sand-Attack at level 7. Tackle is a solid STAB move in this generation, and will more than suffice until level 11, when it gets Headbutt. This move is great and very powerful for this point in the game. At 12, the raccoon also learns Baby-Doll Eyes, an upgrade to Growl that will not really make a big difference; at 13, it gets Odor Sleuth, which should just be ignored. Mud Sport comes at 17, and might turn out useful if the team is very weak to Electric-types. The last pre-evolution move learned is Pin Missile, at level 19, which is actually not bad at all with the upgrade to a base power of 25 per hit, though other coverage moves will likely be available at this point, and probably more useful. Linoone then learns Covet at 24, which is only slightly less powerful than Headbutt and has the plus of stealing items from wild Pokémon, and then promptly gets the useless Bestow at level 27 to compensate. At level 32, it learns Slash, though Strength has greater power and should be usually preferred. Double-Edge, available at 35, is a strong move to have which remains fairly good for most of the game, though it does have the recoil damage drawback; that can be mitigated with Rest, learnt at 40, but Linoone is generally not bulky enough to use it, nor is it bulky enough to support Belly Drum, which it learns at 43. These moves will only serve their purpose against very weak foes, of which there are not many in late Hoenn. Lastly, Fling, learned at level 48, does no good at all. It should also be noted that Linoone can learn Play Rough at level 1, thus it is accessible through the Move Reminder.
TMs further expand Linoone's movepool. On the physical side, some of Linoone's most easily available moves are Dig and Strength, which does a good job at being the resident Normal-type STAB before the ever-popular Return becomes available; Return should be used in place of Double-Edge when available: not needing to think about recoil damage in a matchup makes a great difference for Linoone. Thief and, later on, Shadow Claw offer good coverage and allow Linoone to fight Ghost-types without worries, as well. On the special side, Linoone has access to all special elemental moves, notably Ice Beam, Thunderbolt and Flamethrower, as well as their more powerful but less accurate equivalents, as well as Shadow Ball which can replace Shadow Claw on low Attack specimens. Linoone can also learn Surf if needed, though type-wise it is usually not a great move to teach, due to the abundance of Water-types that can cover that role better. Lastly, Hone Claws is the go-to setup option for Linoone who want to boost Attack, but dare not rely on Belly Drum.
Linoone's DexNav move options are by no means appealing, though in the early game, a Rock Climb Zigzagoon will be incredibly overpowered, and Charm may also prove situationally helpful for a short while. Do note that, unless Zigzagoon is already at level 11 or higher, the DexNav move will replace its only damaging move, Tackle.
Recommended moveset: Hone Claws, Return, Shadow Claw, Play Rough
Pokémon that are good against Fighting-types: Normal-types have only one weakness, Fighting. Plenty of types are good against Fighting-types; there is a plethora of Psychic- and Fairy-type Pokémon to choose from in Hoenn, but Bug-, Flying- and Ghost-types also work well.
Physical tanks: Linoone's physical Defense is acceptable, but not great; if faced with a strong physical attacker, it is unlikely to come out on top. For this reason, a physical tank or wall is also needed on Linoone's team.
Special tanks: Linoone's special bulk is exactly as much as its physical bulk, which is: not great. It may be able to take some hits, but a proper special tank or wall must also be present on the team, otherwise Linoone is likely to fall short against specially-based glass cannons.
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.
Zigzagoon Line Ratings
What Nature do I want? Whatever boosts Attack is good, Adamant being the best. As Linoone does not have much use for its Special Attack, any nature that lowers Special Attack is also automatically good. If not Adamant, natures that work well for this line are Lonely, Naughty, Impish and Careful.
Which Ability do I want? Pickup, for general utility. It may not be as broken as it used to be, but it accomplishes far more than Gluttony or Quick Feet in-game. Quick Feet is actually its worst choice, because Linoone will hardly ever have Speed problems.
At what point in the game should I be evolved? Anytime after Brawly and before Wattson. Linoone will not be of much help against Brawly anyway, and Zigzagoon cannot do anything against STAB Volt Switch.
How good is the Zigzagoon line in a Nuzlocke? Pretty good for an early game Pokémon, though by no means amazing in the late game. Linoone is solid and reliable most of the time, but when the League challenge finally rolls around, the team slot is best saved for someone else.