Long hailed as the least-chosen starter Pokemon from the first-generation games of Red and Blue, Bulbasaur and its evolutions have become an increasingly effective mon in both the adventure and in competitive play. While Venusaur is typically who you will find as either an all-out attacker on Sunny Day/Drought teams or as a specially defensive wall, what about the baby form in Bulbasaur?
There are a couple of advantages to un-evolved Bulbasaur, in fact. One of those advantages is that by Generation VIII (Sword & Shield), Bulbasaur learns all of its moves by level 36, including its best overall special move in Solar Beam. That’s compared to level 50 for Ivysaur and level 58 for Venusaur. If you don’t feel like leveling your mon past level 50 to learn Solar Beam, just keep it un-evolved as Bulbasaur until level 36 at which point it won’t learn any additional moves. It’s notable that Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, and Venusaur all learn the same moves, just that they are learned more slowly as the mon evolves.
Yes, it’s important that evolving into Ivysaur gives Bulbasaur about a 25 percent boost in max stats, and evolving into Venusaur gives it an additional 30 percent max stats boost. But, against un-evolved Pokemon, especially in a competitive format such as Little Cup (all Pokemon are set to level 5), Bulbasaur holds up all right if it can pop off a Solar Beam under sunny skies set up by either the move Sunny Day or in more recent generations by a Pokemon with the Drought ability.
It’s unfortunate that Bulbasaur isn’t allowed to use its hidden ability, Chlorophyll, in low-level formats, however. Chlorophyll allows a Pokemon to double its speed under sunny conditions, which is why it’s made Bulbasaur and its evolutions much more competitive in recent generations.
There are plenty of guides on how to build a better Venusaur available online, such as at Smogon University and Game8.co. As far as playing a niche format like Little Cup, Bulbasaur is a neat little Pokemon who brings the power of Solar Beam as well as a powerful special Poison move such as Venoshock or Sludge Bomb that can be learned via Technical Machine (T.M.)
Now that Bulbasaur can evolve into a Venusaur that can Gigantamax with a powerful hidden move, your best bet is likely to fully evolve it, of course. But, don’t forget that you can teach it Solar Beam by keeping it un-evolved until level 36, only 4 levels past when it would ordinarily evolve into a Venusaur.
While I’ve personally always favored Fire-type Pokemon as my starter in various generations, I do have a nostalgic soft spot for Bulbasaur. He is, after all, the very first entry in the National Pokedex. You may not see Bulbasaur winning tournaments in his baby form, although you may be surprised to learn that Ivysaur does see competitive play in Sword and Shield!
In the Pokemon Trading Card Game, Bulbasaur debuted with a card that featured one of its signature attacks in the first generation, Leech Seed. This is still a decent move today, as you will see it used on various other competitive Grass-type Pokemon, although competitive Bulbasaur evolution lines rarely do any longer. It was a decent move in the early days of the Trading Card Game, though, often allowing Bulbasaur to hang around to be able to evolve into Ivysaur.
Perhaps my favorite Bulbasaur Pokemon trading card is the promo for Detective Pikachu, which features 60 HP and the move Find a Friend, which for a single Grass energy can find you any Grass-type Pokemon from your deck and add it to your hand.
What are your thoughts on Bulbasaur? I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Ivysaur and Venusaur, as well.
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