26: Getting Your Team Ready for the Elite Four
First, I want to say -- Good on ya mate! You are now very close to the end of the main quest line for Pokemon Emerald! Of course that does not mean that you are close to having finished the game itself -- in fact you are likely far from being done playing.
The thing is, this guide is for completing the main quest line of the game, and not the entire game in all its elements, so of course there is going to be a lot left over that you will want to do, and of course there is a large chunk of game content you cannot really get into and do until AFTER you have completed the quest lines of the game anyway.
If you have been following the guide, you are now at the point in the game where it is time to get your team ready to face Victory Road, and then The Elite Four. Preparing for this part of the game means lots of leveling -- but there is an optional branch in the path ahead, so read on!
If you have traded teams or team elements from other Pokemon titles/versions into this game, please skip ahead to Part 'A' of the Optional Steps now. If you have NOT traded teams or team elements into the game -- and thus are using only the Pokemon that you have acquired and leveled in Emerald, please skip ahead to Part 'B' now.
(A) Optional Step: Team Adjustments
If you have transferred into the game teams or team elements from any of the other games, as you have now obtained all 8 badges and every level Pokemon will obey you, now is an obvious time to adjust your team by adding in the members you plan to use for the final path to victory. If you have not traded teams or team elements into the game, you need to skip to Part B of the Optional Steps below.
If you are still reading this section that means you have traded in either alternate teams or team elements -- I did both myself -- so now is the time for you to take stock of what you have, and decide upon your final team to use from here on out. Obviously levels are a concern, especially if you have some very high-level Pokemon but lack a full-team at the same level.
If that is the case, you should decide on a target level for the rest of the team and then head out to level up your lower-level elements until you have reached that base level for the rest of the team. You can easily function with one or two Pokemon that are significantly higher level than the rest of the team, but you should constantly remind yourself not to use them exclusively for battles on the way to the Championships.
In fact it would be an idea not to use the uber-high elements of your team at all, since you really need to get the rest of the team to a minimum of Level 60 (seriously emphasize the word "minimum" in your mind here, mate) since you will be facing Pokemon at or close to that level during the Elite Four Battles.
So, to recap, at this point you should pick your team to be well-balanced in types if not levels, and you should review your held-items catalog to see what you have that your team can use, and then assign those items.
You should take a good hard look at your kit, and decide on the minimum levels for kit that you will be comfortable with, bearing in mind that you will be completing the entire run through Victory Road without any resupply runs, and then the battles with the Elite Four again without any resupply runs, so your kit minimums need to be able to address the needs of the worse case scenario.
Also, try not to be tempted to use the Rare Candy you have been collecting -- and there is a reason for this mate. You hold on to the Rare Candy so that if, when you embark upon the battles with the Elite Four, you should discover that one or more of your Pokemon are simply in need of a few quick levels, you have the Rare Candy at hand to make that happen. Being able to tweak the levels of one or two team members at the last minute can really make your life a LOT easier. I am just saying.
With all of the above in mind, go out there and level your team on the low-end to around 52/53 so that your run through Victory Road results in reaching the other end nearer to 60. This is a simple approach, and one that a majority of trainers use when they do not have pre-leveled full teams to swap in.
(B) Optional Step: Level Your Team
If you are reading this section that means you are playing through the game with the Pokemon you obtained IN the game, and not using Pokemon that you traded in from other games. That also means you have no pre-leveled teams or team elements to rely upon. As that is the case, the bad news is you are going to be spending a LOT of time leveling your team between now and when you head into Victory Road.
The good news is that you can level your team evenly, and see to it that they have the best moves for this particular Elite Four combination, rather than having to make-do with the moves that you needed for the Elite Four in the game you would have traded from. That can actually be a significant advantage!
Your best approach here is to get your entire team to between Levels 52 and 53 or thereabouts prior to stepping foot on Victory Road. Once you have your team to Level 52/53 your run through Victory Road will be a major boost in levels for your team, and should result in you being pretty close to the target level of 60 by the time you reach the entrance to the Pokemon League and get ready to fight the Elite Four.
Chances are you will not actually have the team to Level 60 at this point -- but that is OK because you only need it that high for the last member of the Elite Four -- and the Pokemon Champion Battle (in other words for the last two battles), and the first three members of the Elite Four should provide you with the XP you need to get your team to the target of Level 60.
If, by the end of the third member of the Elite Four, you still have members who need a few levels, well, that is what Rare Candy is for mate! So this is just a friendly reminder that you should not be using the Rare Candy you have been collecting -- you should be saving it for your final team adjustments prior to stepping through the door to the fourth member of the Elite Four and having you that battle.
As far as leveling strategies go, you should be very aware of how that works by now, and you should have some favorite (or preferred) leveling spots already, so just head to those and level your team.
Once you have reached Level 52/53 for your team, it is time to jump to Part 27: Victory Road!
(C) Optional Step: You Just Cannot Wait
This is not really an optional step, but I needed somewhere to talk about the alternative plan if you simply cannot wait through the process of leveling your entire team to 52/53 as I recommend above.
Speaking plainly, here is the deal: by leveling your team to 52/53 you pretty much guarantee that by the time you get to Elite Four and the Champion your entire team will be at least Level 55. That is the level we are targeting because you will face Pokemon of that Level when you battle the last member of the Elite Four -- and the Champion.
The thing is you do not actually have to have all of your Pokemon at Level 55 if you do not want to -- that target goal is here because it makes the process of battling on that level easier. There are some alternatives available...
Example 1: You have one Pokemon that is much higher level than all of the others on your team.
A common occurrence in these games is for a Trainer to favor a particular Pokemon in their team and, as a result, that one is very well trained and often 10 or more levels above the rest of the team. That can work to your advantage -- if it is the right type of Pokemon -- allowing you to run through the Elite Four with as much as half your team under-level by as much as 3 to 4 levels.
You *can* usually get away with that because your higher level anchor functions as a hitman. So yes, that is an option, but still, getting as many in your team as close to the target level as you can manage is the preferred way to go.
Example 2: I trained my team up level but at the end of Victory Road they are all only level XX!
Let us say that you followed the guide but your team is all Level 53 instead of 55 when you reach the third member of the Elite Four. OK, that is not ideal, but you should be able to clobber the rest of the Elite Four and take out the Champion with that team -- Level 55 is the recommended Level, but really anything from 50 up can work!
If you do end up in this situation, this is the time to break out your supply of Rare Candy. Assuming you have enough (if you followed this guide, and if you had a Pokemon with the Pickup Ability in your party for most of the time, you should have a minimum of between 10 and 18 Rare Candy in your bag.
Under those circumstances the best tactic is to use the Candy to get the majority of your team to the same level if they are not already, and then begin raising them all one at a time, keeping them at or near the same level. Until you actually go into battle with them against the higher level opponents you will not know which of your Pokemon are less effective -- but once you find out you should try to avoid the classic mistake that many trainers make.
Rather than use your remaining Candy to buff and boost the Pokemon that is strongest -- which is what most trainers will do -- you should boost the two that are weakest in your party as high as you can using Candy, as that makes them even more effective.
In the End...
Your journey to Victory Road and the Elite Four has always been about working with your team and using them to their best ability -- and nothing has changed. You are either ready of you are not, but the good part of this is that starting Victory Road does not commit you to the Elite Four, so if you find that you have underestimated your team's capabilities, learning that while you are fighting your way through Victory Road is actually a good thing!
At the end of Victory Road you still have the option of more training and leveling prior to committing to the Elite Four Battle -- just be aware that once you enter the final phase of the journey there is no turning back. Once you commit to taking on the Elite Four you can no longer back out.
With all that said, good luck mate!