Pokémon Trainer Fundamentals

The Basics of Pokémon, Sinnoh Style

Learn the basics of how to catch, battle, and raise Pokémon in the Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl games. If you’ve played other Pokémon games from the core series before, you probably know a lot of this already; read on for a refresher or skip ahead to the Traveler’s Guide to Sinnoh for aspects of Pokémon adventuring that are more specific to Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl.

The Goals of a Pokémon Trainer

When you first begin your adventure in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond or Pokémon Shining Pearl, you’ll be able to choose your language, name, and appearance. Then, this stylish new you will be unleashed in the rugged, mysterious, and Pokémon-filled region of Sinnoh. These games are not a straightforward intro-to-ending affair—unless, of course, that’s all you want them to be. Trainers here can pursue many different paths to glorys.

Save Sinnoh from Team Galactic

In this guide, we won’t be walking you through the steps of the game’s main story or spoiling the particulars of Team Galactic’s nefarious plot. (Wait, was calling it “nefarious” a spoiler? Mmmph... We’ll just keep quiet about it for now.) But pursuing this storyline is how every Trainer’s career unfolds—it will introduce you to Sinnoh’s many charms while providing you with the tools you’ll need to explore its every nook and cranny.

Become Pokémon League Champion

Once your Pokémon roster has been trained and tempered, you can put them to one of the region’s ultimate challenges: reaching and defeating the Pokémon League Champion to win the title for yourself. But first, you’ll need to defeat eight Gym Leaders scattered throughout Sinnoh, as well as a team of expert Trainers known as the Elite Four.

Complete the Sinnoh Pokédex

If you want to experience all that Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl has to offer, you’re going to want to see every Pokémon across the land. Each time you encounter a new Pokémon out of the 150 species you can initially find in the Sinnoh region—be it in the wild or from another Trainer’s roster—you’ll add its entry to the Sinnoh Pokédex that you’re given near the start of the game. Catching Pokémon to complete their Pokédex entries is a satisfying challenge, but simply encountering them all is enough to unlock end-game content and a new National Pokédex with even more entries to fill.

Challenge the End-game Content

Even after the game’s credits roll, your adventure is far from over. Once you become the Champion, you’ll be able to access a whole new section of Sinnoh that features new routes and areas to explore. There you’ll find the Battle Zone, which offers the region’s true ultimate challenge. There are also new Pokémon to catch, including elusive Legendary Pokémon that are sure to put you through your paces as a Trainer.

Building Your Pokémon Roster

Happily, you won’t have to face the many challenges of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl alone. Your first partner will be one of three Pokémon offered to you at the beginning of the game. With its help, you can catch other Pokémon, build out your team, and eventually fill your Boxes with Pokémon of all types and capabilities. The larger your roster, the more strategic tools you’ll have at your disposal. As your Pokémon grow and evolve throughout your journey, even more exciting surprises await!

Choose the Right Partner for You

You can only choose one of Sinnoh’s three first partner Pokémon to join you in your adventure, but luckily there’s no wrong choice. One may suit your play style more than the others, but all three will prove to be effective companions throughout the game. Whichever first partner you choose, it may very well become one of the strongest Pokémon on your team.


Turtwig is a Grass type that naturally learns an abundance of HP-draining Grass-type moves, as well as a few Dark-type moves for some extra versatility. The Tiny Leaf Pokémon can ultimately evolve into the Grass- and Ground-type Torterra, which has a well-rounded move set and strong defensive stats. Try to level up Turtwig quickly so you’ll have access to some effective Grass-type moves before you face the first Gym.


As the most aggressive of the first partner Pokémon, Fire-type Chimchar is swift and strong, though it’s slightly less resilient than the other two. It develops quickly, evolving into Monferno as early as Lv. 14 and immediately adding solid Fighting-type moves to its repertoire. Chimchar will be at a type disadvantage in the first Gym, so you’ll want to catch a few other reliable Pokémon before you challenge the Gym Leader there. Once you’ve got your first Gym Badge, the Chimp Pokémon and its Evolutions will be a major asset through many of the games’ later Gyms and other challenges.


Piplup is the most defense-oriented of the three first partner Pokémon and can ultimately evolve into the extremely resilient Empoleon. Empoleon’s rare type combination of Water and Steel gives it resistance or immunity to a whopping 11 Pokémon types, making it a very difficult Pokémon to knock out. Piplup may struggle a bit in the second Gym, so if you choose the Penguin Pokémon, try to level up a few other Pokémon you can rely on through the early parts of the game.

Acquiring the Other Two First Partners

What’s that, you say? You want all three of these adorable Pokémon? Well, in the olden days of the original Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl games, that meant discovering and hatching Eggs of your own first partner Pokémon, then trading them with other players (see Cracking Pokémon Eggs). But in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl, Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup can all be encountered and caught in the Grand Underground! After you’ve earned the National Pokédex, look for them in Pokémon Hideaways featuring terrains that match their respective types of Grass, Fire, and Water.

Where Wild Pokémon Dwell

Finding top-tier Pokémon in open briefcases is, alas, a rare occurrence. You’ll need to do a lot more work to catch the rest of your roster—tracking Pokémon to their native environments, carefully weakening them through battle, and then catching them in Poké Balls. We’ll discuss the art of the catch in Battling Wild Pokémon, but for now, let’s get a rundown of where these wild Pokémon dwell.

Tall Grasses and Marshland

Wild Pokémon live all throughout the Sinnoh region, though only in certain types of terrain. For your best chance at catching wild Pokémon, you’ll need to wade into the tall grass found in the outdoor routes connecting Sinnoh’s many cities and towns. Wild Pokémon also hide in patches of muddy marshland and extra-tall grass, although these kinds of terrain are relatively rare.

Caves and Structures

Many wild Pokémon can be found inside caves and tunnels, as well as certain haunted structures. Unlike outdoor routes, the Pokémon you’ll encounter in these areas aren’t restricted to certain types of terrain—they can appear anywhere, at any time. Proceed with caution!


Wild Pokémon can also be encountered while surfing the various waterways of Sinnoh, including lakes, rivers, and the surrounding sea. Needless to say, you’ll encounter very different Pokémon on the water than you will on land. Water-type and Flying-type Pokémon are particularly prolific offshore.

Other Ways to Find Wild Pokémon

While tromping through the wilderness may be the most common way of finding new Pokémon to catch, it’s not the only way. Some Pokémon can only be caught through more unconventional means.


Once you acquire a fishing rod, you can dip it into almost any body of water in Sinnoh. After a while you may get a bite, indicated by an “!” appearing over your head. Quickly press the A Button to reel in your catch. If it’s a Pokémon, you’ll go straight into battle with it and will have the opportunity to catch it with a Poké Ball. Note that even within the same area, Pokémon encountered by fishing may differ from the Pokémon you can encounter surfing through the waterways. Additionally, some Pokémon only bite at the higher-quality fishing rods you can acquire by talking to a few friendly fishers found around Sinnoh.

The Great Marsh

The Great Marsh in Pastoria City is home to Sinnoh’s Safari Game, a feature similar to the Safari Zone that Pokémon veterans may remember from past titles. Here you can pay to walk up to 500 steps across six swampy areas in search of rare Pokémon. When you find a wild Pokémon, you can try to catch it with the 30 Safari Balls included in your admission fee. There’s no actual battling here, so Pokémon will be quick to escape and the only tactics available to you are flinging mud (which makes them easier to catch, but more likely to flee) and throwing bait (which makes them less likely to flee, but harder to catch).

The Pokémon that appear in the Great Marsh change on a daily basis. Using the mounted binoculars in the Observatory at the entrance to the Great Marsh will give you a preview of which Pokémon are currently appearing in which area, making it easier to track down the ones you want within the 500-step limit.

Honey Trees

One method of catching Pokémon that’s unique to the Sinnoh region is slathering a certain type of gold-colored tree with Honey. Return 6–24 real-time hours later, and your sweet offering may have lured in a wild Pokémon that you can then battle and catch. These sweet-smelling trees can be found throughout the routes and other outdoor areas of Sinnoh. Each tree will appear on your Town Map once discovered, so make use of the Town Map’s new Location Info feature to quickly see which trees are ready for a return visit! Note that many of the Pokémon that are attracted to trees slathered in Honeycannot be caught through other methods.

Pokémon Eggs

You can acquire Pokémon Eggs from certain characters you’ll meet along your Sinnoh journey. You might also discover some Eggs of your own if you start leaving pairs of Pokémon at the Pokémon Nursery. (See Cracking Pokémon Eggs.) Once you receive a Pokémon Egg, you’ll need to add it to your party and walk (or bike) with the Egg until it hatches.

Finding Pokémon on Their Schedule

Wild Pokémon aren’t just sitting around waiting for you to find them—they’ve got sleeping, feeding, and who-knows-what-else to do. If you’re trying to catch a certain Pokémon, keep in mind that it may appear more frequently—if at all—only during certain times of the day. The in-game clock matches your real-world time settings, with the day broken up into morning (4:00 a.m. to 09:59 a.m.), midday (10:00 a.m. to 7:59 p.m.), and night (8:00 p.m. to 3:59 a.m.)

In addition to using the clock in your Nintendo Switch system to keep time, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl track the days of the week, too. Most Pokémon have an equal chance to appear no matter what day it is, but there are certain Pokémon that can only be caught on particular days of the week—Drifloon, for instance, floats into Sinnoh every Friday.

Trading for Pokémon

The final method of acquiring Pokémon is simply to trade for them. There are Trainers within the game who are willing to part with a rare Pokémon in exchange for a certain catchable wild Pokémon, but most trading is conducted between players. Trading is the best way to get Pokémon that are exclusive to only one version of the game. On top of that, Pokémon received via trade gain more Exp. Points and level up faster than Pokémon caught in the wild! When you’re ready to trade, visit the second floor of any Pokémon Center to get started.

Earning the Respect of Traded Pokémon

Trading is nice, but don’t think that your friend’s Lv. 80 Palkia will automatically make battling through the main story a breeze. A Pokémon received via trade won’t obey your orders until you impress it with the Gym Badges you’ve earned by defeating Sinnoh’s Gym Leaders. At the start of the game, you can only effectively use traded Pokémon of up to Lv. 10, but for every two Badges you earn, the level of the Pokémon you can reliably command rises by 20 levels. Once you’ve collected all eight Gym Badges, all of your Pokémon will obey you without question.