While they aren’t needed to have access to Surf anymore, a strong water-type Pokémon is still a staple of most well-rounded teams in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
Players in Shining Pearl will gain access to the legendary Palkia through the main story, an extremely capable dual water-type and dragon-type Pokémon, but that won’t be an option for players in Brilliant Diamond and has been excluded from this list as a result.
Our first four on this list are the only ones that you’ll be able to snag while going through the main story, but the others will become available once you’ve acquired the National Dex. Whether you’re looking for something to counter the Elite Four or you’re crafting an epic team for the rematches, these water-type Pokémon are your best bets.
1. Empoleon, Base Stats Total: 530
Special Attack: 111
Special Defense: 101
Even though Chimchar is the best starter in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, one of the best water-type options in the game is still the beloved Piplup. After evolving into the final form of Empoleon, you’ll have an absolute beast thanks to the water-type and steel-type combo.
With a very high Special Defense and capable Defense, Empoleon becomes an even more formidable tank when you factor in that it is only weak to electric-type, fighting-type, and ground-type moves. On top of that, Empoleon has an absurd ten different type resistances (normal, water, flying, psychic, bug, rock, dragon, fairy, ice, and steel) as well as an immunity to poison-type moves.
You’ll gain strong attacking options like Drill Peck and Hydro Pump through its learnset, and Empoleon has tons of TM options like Ice Beam, Earthquake, Brick Break, Rock Slide, Steel Wing, Shadow Claw, Grass Knot, Flash Cannon, and Surf. Finally, supplement with battle-prolonging moves like Rest, Substitute, or Hail to wear down opposing Pokémon one turn at a time.
2. Gyarados, Base Stats Total: 540
Special Attack: 60
Special Defense: 100
Some things never change in Pokémon. Magikarp is always terrible, and it always becomes an amazingly powerful Gyarados when it evolves. This isn’t any different in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as it even made it onto our list of the best Pokémon team to use through the main story.
Gyarados is about as easy to catch as Pokémon get: just go fishing anywhere with an Old Rod, and you’re bound to reel in a Magikarp to evolve into Gyarados. You’ll have access to one of the highest Base Attack Stats in the whole game, but stick to physical attacks and don’t forget about its low Special Attack.
Build your moveset with powerful options like Aqua Tail, Hurricane, and Hyper Beam while leveling Gyarados up. From there, you can supplement an extremely versatile moveset with TMs for Iron Tail, Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Earthquake, Flamethrower, Dragon Pulse, or Stone Edge.
3. Azumarill, Base Stats Total: 420 (470 with Huge Power)
Attack: 50 (100 with Huge Power)
Special Attack: 60
Special Defense: 80
One of your final options during the main story of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is Azumarill. Fortunately, you won’t need the National Dex, but you will need some patience as you’ll primarily find Azurill or Marill as a special Daily Pokémon in the Great Marsh. As such, you’ll want to look through the binoculars to know ahead of time where it’s due to spawn that day. Azurill will evolve into Marill with High Friendship, and from there, it evolves into Azumarill at Level 18.
The most important thing when catching what will eventually be your Azumarill is making sure that it has the Huge Power ability. Azumarill’s strengths are rooted entirely in that ability. Azumarill technically has the lowest base stats of any Pokémon on this list, but not when you factor in Huge Power as it literally doubles its Attack stat.
Azumarill has solid defensive stats, but it leans on high HP and Attack to deliver hard hits and keep the fight going until it can take an enemy out. You’ll benefit from it being one of the only good fairy-type options and the only dual water-type and fairy-type Pokémon in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
As you level up Azumarill, your learnset will offer powerful options like Play Rough, Double-Edge, and Superpower to anchor your attacks. You’ll want more physical moves than special, so snag Waterfall with a TM, and you can round out Azumarill’s moveset with moves like Giga Impact, Rest, or Hail, depending on your preferred strategy.
4. Manaphy, Base Stats Total: 600
Special Attack: 100
Special Defense: 100
While it won’t be available forever, all players can get a free Manaphy as a Mystery Gift between now and February 21, 2022, and we’ve got more details here on how to go about claiming yours. This purely water-type mythical is extremely powerful in the main story and post-game as its Base Stats Total of 600 is evenly distributed across the board.
Tail Glow will become your new favorite move in big battles as it raises Manaphy’s Special Attack stat by two stages and instantly makes it significantly more deadly. You’ll get a few attacking options with its learnset, like Bubble Beam, but the best move options will all come via TMs.
Make sure that you learn Surf and then supplement with versatile options like Ice Beam, Dazzling Gleam, Shadow Ball, Energy Ball, and Psychic. Of those, Ice Beam will be most crucial as it counters grass-type Pokémon – one of Manaphy’s only two weaknesses – and it’ll be key against dragon-type Pokémon in the late game.
5. Vaporeon, Base Stats Total: 525
Special Attack: 110
Special Defense: 95
While it’s been a staple for years, Vaporeon doesn’t come into play for Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl until you’ve acquired the National Dex. While you could head to the Trophy Garden in the Pokémon Mansion on Route 212 in hopes that Eevee is one of the Daily Pokémon, you can also get a gift Eevee by visiting Bebe’s House in Hearthome City after acquiring the National Dex.
Once you’ve used a Water Stone to evolve your Eevee into a Vaporeon, hopefully at a low level, you can snag moves like Aurora Beam, Muddy Water, and Hydro Pump while leveling it up. From there, you can diversify its moveset with TMs for Ice Beam, Iron Tail, Dig, Shadow Ball, and Surf.
With extremely high HP, very high Special Attack, and solid Special Defense, Vaporeon is basically a tiny tank. You can emphasize that strength with moves like Substitute, Rest, and Hail to round out your moveset. Keep in mind that physical grass-type and electric-type moves from opponents like Luxray, Leafeon, or Torterra are the biggest threat to Vapoeron’s high durability.
6. Kingdra, Base Stats Total: 540
Special Attack: 95
Special Defense: 95
If you’d prefer not to use the legendary Palkia, or happen to be playing Brilliant Diamond, an extremely useful dual water-type and dragon-type option for your team would be Kingdra. This unique type combo leaves Kingdra weak to only dragon-type and fairy-type moves while holding resistances to steel-type, fire-type, and water-type moves.
You’ll have to put in some legwork to get a Kingdra, first catching a Seadra on Route 226 with the Super Rod or snagging Horsea in the Grand Underground from Fountainspring Cave, Riverbank Cave, or Still-Water Cavern after you’ve acquired the National Dex.
You’ll also need a Dragon Scale, which is only found as a held item when catching Horsea, Seadra, Dratini, or Dragonair. Once acquired, you need Seadra to hold that item while being traded to trigger the evolution into Kingdra.
With all of that sorted, level your Kingdra up to snag Dragon Pulse and Hydro Pump from its learnset, and you won’t have to fret over physical versus special attacks as Kingdra has balanced Attack and Special Attack stats. With TMs, you can further your options with Ice Beam, Flash Cannon, and Surf to round out the moveset.
7. Swampert, Base Stats Total: 535
Special Attack: 85
Special Defense: 90
Before it took the internet by storm in meme format, Mudkip was known for both its cute face and its extremely powerful final form. You’ll only be able to catch Mudkip in the Grand Underground after completing the National Dex, and it spawns in Fountainspring Cave, Riverbank Cave, and Still-Water Cavern.
Once leveled up into Swampert, you’ll have an excellent combo as a dual water-type and ground-type Pokémon, but Swampert’s one weakness is that it’s extremely vulnerable to grass-type moves. Fortunately, you can prepare for grass-type enemies with TMs by teaching Swampert Ice Beam or Avalanche, the latter of which benefits from Swampert’s superior physical Attack stat.
Leveling up will give you Muddy Water and Rock Slide, but it’s a handful of TMs that really give Swampert even more powerful attacks. Depending on the rest of your team’s makeup, you can choose to outfit Swampert with moves like Stone Edge, Surf, Brick Break, Giga Impact, Iron Tail, and ground-type staple Earthquake.
8. Lapras, Base Stats Total: 535
Special Attack: 85
Special Defense: 95
A staple of the series since the very beginning, it remains difficult to acquire the rare Lapras in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. However, this time you’ll be catching one in the wild after receiving your National Dex. The Grand Underground isn’t in play for this one; instead, you need to head to a specific area of Victory Road.
Near the end of Victory Road, there is a path on the far right of the cave blocked by an NPC if you don’t yet have the National Dex. Once you do, that NPC will move and clear the way to the area where you can use Surf and hope the random encounters land you on Lapras quickly. This dual water-type and ice-type classic is weak to grass-type, electric-type, fighting-type, and rock-type moves, but has resistances to water-type and ice-type moves.
While you can snag key status moves like Sing or Confuse Ray, leveling up Lapras also gives access to staples like Ice Beam, Brine, and Hydro Pump. With TMs, you can give Lapras a ton of powerful options such as Iron Tail, Thunderbolt, Psychic, Dragon Pulse, Bulldoze, and Surf – some of which can help to counter the types that Lapras is weakest against.
9. Cloyster, Base Stats Total: 525
Special Attack: 85
Special Defense: 45
Similar to how Huge Power is crucial to Azumarill, you’ll find that Skill Link is equally essential to your Cloyster. After you’ve completed the National Dex, you can catch a Shellder with a Super Rod on Route 205 South, Valley Windworks, or Fuego Ironworks, or you can head to the Grand Underground to find one in Fountainspring Cave, Riverbank Cave, or Still-Water Cavern.
Make sure that you get your Shellder to at least Level 44 to snag Shell Smash before using a water stone to evolve it into Cloyster, and that evolution will trigger it learning the move Icicle Spear. These two anchor your offense, as Shell Smash boosts Attack and Speed significantly while Icicle Spear pairs with Skill Link to guarantee a five-hit move every time.
This makes Icicle Spear instantly one of the strongest ice-type moves in the game, and it’ll destroy most opposing dragon-type Pokémon. Try the move reminder if you want to snag Spikes or Toxic Spikes for your Cloyster, and then finish off with some strong TMs to learn Giga Impact, Poison Jab, or an evasive move like Double Team.
10. Crawdaunt, Base Stats Total: 468
Special Attack: 90
Special Defense: 55
While sometimes overlooked, Crawdaunt is a potential force to be reckoned with in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl if you get all of the right pieces in place. You won’t be able to snag one until you have the National Dex, and both Crawdaunt and the unevolved Corphish are only available via the Grand Underground in Fountainspring Cave, Riverbank Cave, Spacious Cave, or Still-Water Cavern.
You’ll need the Hidden Ability Adaptability, which may require a few catching attempts, some breeding, or the use of an Ability Patch. When you have Adaptability, moves with a STAB (same-type attack bonus) – which are water-type and dark-type moves for Crawdaunt – go from getting a 1.5x damage boost to a 2x damage boost.
You’ll get two of the most crucial moves by leveling up, as Crunch and Crabhammer are two absurdly powerful moves, the latter of which lands critical hits much more frequently. You can add some versatility with Dig, Brick Break, Avalanche, X-Scissor, Rock Slide, and Sludge Bomb with TMs.
So, if you want to add one of the most powerful water-type Pokémon to your team, be sure to catch one of those listed above.