A breath of fresh air in an arguably stagnant series, Pokémon Sun and Moon and its sequels eschew the traditional gym leaders of the series’ first six generations in favour of totem Pokémon. These are powerful creatures with stat boosts and allies who can give your team a lot of trouble if you’re not prepared. While all of them can be challenging in the right circumstances, some are more challenging than others, and will require extra strategy and preparation to best. Here are all 12 totem Pokémon ranked from easiest to hardest.
Unsurprisingly, the first totem in Sun won’t give you too much trouble. A traded Hawlucha will make this battle a breeze, but even a starter with a higher level than this totem will dispose of it easily. Its low speed will make it susceptible to your Pokémon’s powerful attacks early, and its increased defense still won’t protect against most moves. More a training session than an actual boss battle, Gumshoos is a relatively easy totem, and a great chance for you to level up your Pokémon without much effort.
Slightly more of a challenge than Gumshoos due to its Bite attack, Raticate is still a pretty painless fight as long as your Pokémon are trained. Fighting-type moves are most effective here, but due to Raticate’s somewhat low special defense, most of the moves your starter will learn early on can be used here. Avoid poisoning Raticate as it will use its Pecha berry to reverse the status — sleep or paralysis is a much better choice.
Vikavolt just doesn’t compare to the other totem Pokémon on this list, despite being effective against Popplio and its evolutions. By this point in the game you should have a Pokémon with moves that will resist Vikavolt’s electric- and bug-type attacks, whether it be a Lycanroc or an evolved Litten.
Be aware that Vikavolt holds an Occa berry which will resist against a fire-type move for one turn. Decidueye is also effective here as it resists electric-type moves.
For a late-game battle, Kommo-o is pretty simple to defeat, provided you’ve been training your Pokémon right. It can use Protect which can make for an annoying battle, and its held berry will weaken fairy-type attacks. Despite this, fairy types are particularly effective here, especially if you chose Popplio as your starter, though Kommo-o’s Poison Jab can be an effective counter. If you can, teach a fire-type Pokémon a move that’s effective against Kommo-o so that its ally Scizor doesn’t give you too much trouble.
As one of the new totems from Ultra Sun and Moon, Ribombee isn’t particularly difficult, as it has several weaknesses and no overly powerful moves. Probably the most annoying aspect of this battle is Ribombee’s ally Blissey, who is pretty much impossible to one-hit KO due to its high HP. Ribombee starts the battle holding a berry that protects it against fire-type moves, meaning you’re better off attacking it with rock- or flying-type moves. By this point in the game you’re likely to have at least one if not several of the types Ribombee is weak against, making this battle one of the less challenging in the game.
Salazzle isn’t quite as difficult as its fire-type counterpoint Marowak, but it can still be a pain if you’re not properly prepared. Its Torment attack can make spamming water-type moves impossible, whereas its Toxic move will badly poison your Pokémon, making defeating it a race against time. Its boosted special defense makes it even more powerful, meaning a physical attack is best — and you’ll want at least two to counter its Torment move.
Status attacks are particularly effective against Salazzle, as it will be much less of a threat when asleep or paralyzed.
Due to its Schooling ability, Wishiwashi starts each battle with an overwhelming 620 stat total, higher than even powerful ‘mons like Tyranitar and Dragonite. It can also be healed of any status conditions by its ally Alomomola. You’re pretty much out of luck if you don’t have a grass- or electric-type to counter its water typing, though its low speed will give you an advantage on all your attacks. If you’re lucky enough to get the solo form Wishiwashi as the totem’s first ally, avoid attacking it so that the much more powerful Alomomola doesn’t appear.
Overleveled and arguably overpowered, the Alolan Marowak in Wela Volcano Park will require you to grind your Pokémon several levels to match its high speed and devastating fire attacks. Its ally Salazzle can poison you in no time, and Marowak’s Thick Club will grant it even more power. If you’re able to get Marowak to drop its item, either by using Knock Off or Thief, your life will become a whole lot easier. As a bonus, both these moves are super effective against Marowak’s ghost typing. It will use detect to block some of your attacks, so be persistent and use all the water- and ground-type moves at your disposal.
The totem battle against Lurantis can prove to be one of the most frustrating in the game, mostly due to its Synthesis move, which will allow it to regain half its health after its allies use Sunny Day. This move also means that Lurantis can charge its Solar Blade twice as quickly. Its ally Castform in Sun and Moon and Comfey in the sequels can be almost as challenging as Lurantis itself, as Castform’s weather abilities and Comfey’s healing powers can extend the battle even further. Fire types that can withstand Lurantis’ quick attacks are best used here.
One of the game’s earliest yet most challenging totems in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon is Araquanid, a powerful water/bug type encountered on the game’s second island. Its Water Bubble ability boosts the power of its water-type attacks, which can make your life difficult especially if you chose Litten as your starter.
It also knows Leech Seed, which can be a real pain for your team. Your best bet is to find either a flying- or electric-type Pokémon — Toucannon or Hawlucha are particularly good choices — to take it out quickly. Watch out for its high speed and extremely high special defense.
Mimikyu is tough enough without the ridiculous boosts to its stats that it is afforded as one of the game’s later totems. Its fairy/ghost typing mean it only has two weaknesses — ghost and steel — both of which are hard to come by in both Sun and Moon and its sequels. Its allies are a pain, especially Banette which can use Will-o-Wisp to slowly eat away at your team’s HP. Mimikyu’s Play Rough attack is particularly unforgiving, as its high power and relatively high accuracy can easily decimate dark- and fighting-type Pokémon. Get through its Disguise ability quickly and use status moves to weaken it, leaving it open to powerful steel-type attacks.
For an overall unexceptional Pokémon, Togedemaru sure makes for a challenging boss. Its defense boost makes landing a damaging hit pretty much impossible, and its Bounce attack combined with Skarmory’s Torment makes for a frustrating battle of attrition. Spiky Shield will also make it impervious to attacks, even Z-moves. Its steel/electric typing makes for few weaknesses, so we recommend picking up a speedy ground- or fire-type Pokémon to counter Togedemaru’s high speed. Rather than trying to defeat its allies, focusing on one-shotting Togedemaru if you can. With a little luck, it’ll be history.