When it comes to choosing a starter Pokémon, every trainer is different in how they like to approach things. Some base the decision on typings, others like to choose based on design. Some people just choose at random and take things from there. Regardless of how and why, a choice is made – though it’s always not necessarily the right one.
It goes without saying that some starters are going to be better than others. Though they tend to have the upper hand over most other Pokémon, starter Pokémon will always be compared to one another, usually those in their generation. There have been some pretty solid Water-type starters over the years, and some are among the most iconic Pokémon in the series. As with anything else, it’s possible to rank these Pokémon in order to get an idea of just how good they are individually. So, here it is: every Water-type starter (as depicted in the adorable fan-art by missypena/zimmay/finni above), ranked.
7 Oshawott - Dewott - Samurott
Things kick off with Oshawott, the Unova Water-type starter. Though some may be tempted to grab hold of this little guy due to its adorable features, it may not be the best choice for your party. Oshawott eventually evolves into the fearsome-looking Samurott. It’s a pure Water-type, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s overshadowed by the other Unova starters.
There are quite a few solid Water-type Pokémon in Unova. They may not all have the same total base stats as Samurott, but that doesn’t really matter. You can get a better starter and a perfectly usable Water-type if you simply choose not to start your adventure off with Oshawott.
6 Popplio - Brionne - Primarina
Next up is Popplio – another adorable looking starter. Popplio is one of the few starters whose design gets weirder and weirder with every evolution. It evolves into Primarina starting at level 34, and with that evolution gains another type: Fairy.
It’s a great pairing, as Fairy is currently among the strongest types in the games. Aside from the immunity to Dragon-type moves, though, Primarina doesn’t have all too much going on for it. The bulk of its base stat spread belongs to its Special Attack and Defense. It doesn’t excel at anything else. While it's perfectly serviceable, you can do much better.
5 Totodile - Croconaw - Feraligatr
Some may be thinking that this Gen II favourite isn’t ranked high enough. But this is a perfect spot for Totodile; right around the middle. Totodile stays a pure Water-type following its evolutions. Feraligatr isn’t a bad Water-type to have by any stretch, but it has as many things going against it as it does for it.
It stands out with high Attack and Defense stats, but everything else is purely average. Considering that it has high Attack and is a Water-type, you’d assume that Feraligatr would have plenty of strong physical Water-type moves in its arsenal, but it only learns Aqua Tail. It has plenty of strong moves, but learns the majority of them at very high levels. Still, Sheer Force/Dragon Dance sets can perform very well, if you get the chance to set up.
4 Squirtle - Wartortle - Blastoise
The first ever Water-type, Squirtle is still one of the most popular and recognizable starter Pokémon out there. Its popularity certainly has to do with how long it’s been around, but that’s not all there is to it. Squirtle – and more importantly its evolved forms – is still a solid Water-type for any trainer all these years later.
Blastoise has great Special Defense and regular Defense, with the rest of its stats being average. Its problem was that it can take a decent beating, but struggled to deal sufficient damage during battle. That issue was changed with its Mega Evolution. Though its HP and Speed remain pedestrian, Blastoise gets a big boost to its offenses, particularly its Special Attack. It really makes it a force to be reckoned with.
3 Froakie - Frogadier - Greninja
Froakie is a pretty solid choice of starter, even when considering the other Water-types that are around Kalos. Greninja is a great glass canon that will be at the front of most trainers’ parties. Though it wasn’t taken into mind when these rankings were put together, Ash-Greninja is ridiculously strong and can probably one-shot a good deal of opponents with its high Attack and Special.
Greninija is a Water/Dark-type, and while it’s weak to five different types, it’s also immune to Psychic and resistant to six others. It knows a ton of great, versatile moves that trainers can take advantage of that high Special attack with, and it also deals much more damage that you'd think thanks to its Protean ability.
2 Piplup - Prinplup - Empoleon
Coming pretty high on this list is Gen IV’s Piplup. As always, what most trainers are really looking for here is just how useful its final evolution can be. In the case of Empoleon, it’s undoubtedly one of the best Water-type starters out there right now.
Empoleon’s only real weakness is that it’ll most likely end up attacking last in most battles. But its Speed is its only low base stat. Everything else is super-solid. It has very few weaknesses and is resistant to ten different types, all while boasting excellent supportive options. It’s one of the safest bets you can make when choosing a starter.
1 Mudkip - Marshtomp - Swampert
This ranking ends off on Gen III’s Mudkip, a useful and consistent water-type ally. It gains a Ground dual typing when it evolves into Marshtomp and, of course, that carries over once it evolves into Swampert.
Swampert is slow, yes, but its Speed is its only subpar stat. It has high HP and Attack with the rest of its stats being pretty solid. Its Mega Evolution really puts it over the edge though, and while it doesn’t improve its Speed all too much (Swift Swim notwithstanding), everything else ends up being fantastic. It has only one weakness, and its stats allow it to serve an offensive or defensive role as your team requires. A dependable ally if ever there was one.