This is a guide on how to take on the big boss of Team Skull: Guzma!
Team Skull Boss Guzma is a Bug specialist that is fought three times during the main story. The first battle takes place in Malie Garden after defeating Sophocles’ trial. The second battle takes place in the Shady House of Po Town; Guzma’s Pokémon in this battle are six levels higher than the first one, but otherwise identical. The third battle takes place in Aether Paradise, in which Guzma has more Pokémon on his team.
In the first battle, in Malie Garden, Guzma uses the following Pokémon:
In the second battle, in Po Town, Guzma uses the following Pokémon:
And in the third battle, in Aether Paradise, Guzma uses the following Pokémon:
Golisopod's Emergency Exit Ability makes it switch out the first time its HP gets below 50%.
Guzma always leads with Golisopod. During the first turn, it tends to use First Impression, although it may also use Razor Shell against Pokémon weak to it, or Swords Dance so it can deal even more damage later. From the second turn onwards it mostly uses Razor Shell, and rarely Swords Dance. First Impression is very powerful as it is almost always a free hit, while you should also watch out for Swords Dance which causes Razor Shell to hit very hard after the Attack boosts. The Emergency Exit Ability switches it out (unless it gets knocked out from above 50%), which means it will get switched back in again later, able to use First Impression once more.
Its Swarm Ability makes its Bug-type moves hit harder if its HP is low.
Ariados tends to use moves that are super-effective, and is more likely to use Fell Stinger if the target’s health is low. It may also use Infestation (in the first two battles).
The Intimidate Ability reduces the opponent’s Attack by one stage when Masquerain is sent out.
Masquerain tends to use the move that has better type effectiveness.
The Mold Breaker Ability makes Pinsir’s moves bypass the opponent’s Abilities.
Pinsir tends to use the move that has better type-effectiveness. It may also use Double Hit.
Flying is super-effective against Bug and Guzma’s Pokémon have no moves super-effective moves against it.
Fire and Rock are also super-effective against Bug and have access to Firium Z and Rockium Z respectively. Fire resists Bug but isn’t super-effective against Golisopod, while Rock is the opposite. Both types are weak against Golisopod’s Razor Shell, though.
The Electric-type can also be used; with Electrium Z a sufficiently powered special Gigavolt Havoc may be able to take down Golisopod in one hit, saving you most of these battles’ trouble.
Golisopod, Ariados and Pinsir are more susceptible to special attacks. Masquerain has less Defense than Sp. Def but it is very frail anyway. Special is overall much better (as Golisopod has a high Defense stat and can be very deadly).
Alolan Raichu is a good Electric-type for the Z-Move strategy; have a sacrifice Pokémon as your lead, let Golisopod waste the first turn on it, then switch to Alolan Raichu and use a special Gigavolt Havoc immediately. Alolan Raichu will not be this useful for the rest of the battle, however, because it is part Psychic-type, but most other Electric-types available at this point don’t have as good of a special Attack. Alolan Raichu is good during the whole game anyway.
Alolan Golem is a better option for Guzma battles later on, thanks to Rock typing making it useful for the entire battle. However, it is not available for the first battle.
In general any Pokémon of viable typing is good for this battle.
When it comes to the starter Pokémon; Decidueye has a type weakness but also has access to Flying-type attacks as well as being able to handle Golisopod after its first turn out is past. Incineroar is very good despite its Dark typing negating the resistance Fire would give it. Primarina is also good as Fairy resists Bug, and it also resists Water, which is useful as Golisopod is the strongest of Guzma’s Pokémon.
Golisopod is the biggest threat of this battle. Your lead Pokémon should be either able to take a First Impression without much problems, or get sacrificed for the next to be sent out. After its first turn, it can only use the Water-type Razor Shell. This can be capitalized on, although you need to be careful in case it gets more Swords Dance boosts than you can handle. Thankfully, any Swords Dance boosts it gets when it has low HP, will be gone if its Ability is triggered. Its Ability itself can also be a problem as it will come back and may use First Impression again. You can bypass the Ability if you can find a way to bring it from above 50% HP to zero in one hit. However, this is particularly hard because of its high Defense. You can attempt to use a Rock or Electric special Z-Move; Electric might be better as Rock special attacks are hard to get and may not have as good power output as Electric ones, which you can get more easily.
For Ariados you should be particularly careful of Fell Stinger and Sucker Punch; it is advisable to switch out (or force Ariados out quickly) if you are afraid that a Fell Stinger will make your Pokémon faint. Sucker Punch is also something you should be careful of; but again it can be capitalized if you send out a Pokémon weak to it, but not to any other of Ariados’ attacks. This way, Ariados will try to use Sucker Punch a lot, but it will keep failing as long as you don’t use offensive attacks. Use the opportunity to set up any kind of strategy you may wish. In general, Ariados isn’t too hard to take down because of its stats, and as long as you are careful of Fell Stinger, it will be easier to take down than Golisopod.
Likewise, Masquerain is very frail; although it hits harder than Ariados with its attacks, which can be annoying. Try to take it down quickly with super-effective attacks.
Pinsir is also not too hard to take down, just be careful of its Mold Breaker Ability in case you are used to some of its moves not working as intended, thanks to strategies that involve your Pokémon’s Abilities.
Overall, these battles are slightly challenging, mostly because of Golisopod. The third battle is more challenging as the addition of two hard hitters after the team has been worn down by the first two Pokémon can be too much.