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How to beat the Rainbow Pokémon: Ho-Oh

Ho-Oh, the Rainbow Pokémon, is back for a limited time only!

A new year brings new Legendary Raids to Pokémon Go. The first Legendary Pokémon for 2021 is Ho-Oh, the mascot of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon HeartGold and it will be available for just a few short days, from January 1 through January 5, 2021. A lot has changed since the last time we battled Ho-Oh, but we here at iMore have everything you need to know to beat this Raid. And be sure to check out our best Pokémon Go accessories so you can be fully equipped for your Pokémon Journey!

Who is Ho-Oh?

The mascot of Pokémon Gold and Lugia‘s polar opposite, Ho-Oh is a Fire and Flying type Legendary Pokémon and the master of the Legendary Beasts, Entei, Raikou, and Suicune. Ho-Oh was also one of the very first Legendary Pokémon to appear in the show, showing up in the very first episode after Ash faced off against a flock of Spearow to protect Pikachu.

What are the best counters?

As a Fire and Flying type, Ho-Oh is takes double damage from Electric and Water, and it takes quad damage from Rock. It has a very wide range of move types including Fire, Flying, Grass, Psychic, Steel, and Fighting. However, a lot has changed since the last time the Rainbow Pokémon featured in Raids. With the introduction of Mega Evolution and the rebalance of Shadow Pokémon, there are a number of solid strategies for taking out this Legendary Pokémon.


A Rock type Fossil Pokémon from Gen IV, Rampardos is the best possible counter for Ho-Oh. Its first stage, Cranidos has been featured in events and Eggs, and it only requires 50 Candies to evolve, so many players have an abundance of candy for powering it up. As a Rock type, it resists Fire and Flying type moves, but takes double damage from Fighting, Grass, and Steel attacks. The moveset you’re looking for is Smack Down and Rock Slide.


The Rock and Dark type Tyranitar from Gen II has had widespread availability, having been the star of a Community Day, featured in Raids, and even as a Shadow Pokémon. Most players have a few fully powered up Tyranitar, if not an entire team. It’s resistant to Flying, Fire, and Psychic, but weak against Steel, Grass, and Fighting. Its weakness to Fighting is a quad weakness too. Still, if you’re bringing Tyranitar to this Raid, you’ll want it to know Smack Down and Stone Edge.


The final evolution of the Gen I Rhyhorn, Rhyperior is a Ground and Rock type. Like Rampardos, it brings resistences to Flying and Fire, and weaknesses to Fighting, Steel, and Grass. Unfortunately, it’s weakness to Grass is a quad weakness, so a Solar Beam Ho-Oh will require dodging. On the plus side, Rhyperior was featured in a Community Day and Rhyhorn has been around since day one, so most trainers have a few fully powered up. Smack Down and Rock Wrecker is the moveset you’ll want your Rhyperior to know; however, if you don’t have a Rhyperior from Community Day or the Elite TMs to spare, Stone Edge can also work for the Charged move.


One of the Legendary Swords of Justice, Terrakion is a great counter for Ho-Oh. It’s a Rock and Fighting type, so weak to most of Ho-Oh’s possible moves (Fighting, Psychic, Steel, and Grass) and only resistant to it’s Fire type attack. However, it’s had fairly widespread availability now and will deal super effective damage to Ho-Oh with Smack Down and Rock Slide.


Another Legendary Pokémon, Landorus hasn’t been as widely available as some of the other counters. As a Ground and Flying type, It’s one of the only counters that isn’t weak to any of Ho-Oh’s attacks, and it resists Fighting type attacks as well. If you’re bringing Landorus to this Raid, you’ll want it to know Rock Throw and Rock Slide.


The Gen I fossil Pokémon, Aerodactyl is a Rock and Flying type that most players have. It’s been around since the start and has been featured in events, Eggs, and Raids, so most players have at least one or two fully powered up. It’s resistant to Flying and Fire, and the only notable weakness it brings is Steel. It is one of the only counters that isn’t weak to Solar Beam, although you might still want to dodge to make it last longer. Rock Throw and Rock Slide is the moveset you’ll want your Aerodactyl to know.


A pure Rock type from Gen V, Gigalith is relatively new to Pokémon Go, but its first stage, Roggenrola has been featured in events and it benefits from Trade Evolution, leaving plenty of Candy leftover for powering up. It’s resistant to Fire and Flying, but weak to Fighting, Steel, and Grass, so dodging is important, especially when Ho-Oh knows Solar Beam. Smack Down and Rock Slide is the moveset you’ll want for this Raid.


Another fossil from Gen I, Omastar doesn’t perform quite as well as Aerodactyl, but as a Rock and Water type, it takes half damage from Flying type moves and only a quarter damage from Fire type moves. It’s weak to Fighting and Solar Beam absolutely shreds Omastar to bits, so moveset and dodging are especially important. However, Omastar are abundant, with its first stage, Omanyte having been featured in many, many events, and being a Shadow Pokémon. If you’re bringing Omastar to this fight, you’ll want Rock Throw and Rock Slide for its moves.

Mega Blastoise

Although Water types should generally take a back seat to Rock types in this Raid, Mega Blastoise changes all of that. The Mega Evolution of Blastoise, Mega Blastoise deals a ton of damage to Ho-Oh, while boosting other Water type attacks on the field. Along with the huge stat boost it gets from Mega Evolution, it presents a solid Water based strategy if you can coordinate the use of other Water types with your fellow Trainers. If you are bringing Mega Blastoise to this Raid, you’ll want it to know Water Gun and Hydro Cannon.


Whether the Rock and Ground original or the Rock and Electric Alolan variant, Golem makes a great counter for Ho-Oh. The Alolan Golem outperforms the Kantonian original, resisting Flying types better, taking only double damage from Grass, and not being weak to Steel. However, it’s not quite as abundant as the Kantonian version. Regardless which Golem you bring, you’ll want it to know Rock Throw and Stone Edge to deal maximum damage.

Back ups?

Although most players will be able to make a team of the best counters, if you’re finding a gap in your team, there are plenty of back ups who work well in larger groups. Just make sure you’re dodging and any of the following could be a decent back up:

  • Aggron with Smack Down and Stone Edge
  • Moltres with Wing Attack and Ancient Power
  • Crustle with Smack Down and Rock Slide
  • Zekrom with Charge Beam and Wild Charge
  • Regirock with Rock Throw and Stone Edge
  • Archeops with Wing Attack and Ancient Power
  • Rayquaza with Dragon Tail and Ancient Power
  • Melmetal with Thunder Shock and Rock Slide
  • Solrock with Rock Throw and Rock Slide
  • Lunatone with Rock Throw and Rock Slide
  • Darmanitan with Tackle and Rock Slide

Shadow Pokémon

The rebalance of Shadow Pokémon rescued from Team GO Rocket make them excellent glass cannons. Not only are their stats boosted, but during special events or with Elite TMs, it’s possible to change their moves. If you happen to have any of the following Pokémon with the right moveset, they will work very well in this Raid:

  • Shadow Tyranitar with Smack Down and Stone Edge
  • Shadow Aerodactyl with Rock Throw and Rock Slide
  • Shadow Omastar with Rock Throw and Rock Slide
  • Shadow Zapdos with Thunder Shock and Ancient Power
  • Shadow Raikou with Thunder Shock and Wild Charge
  • Shadow Moltres with Wing Attack and Ancient Power
  • Shadow Mewtwo with Psycho Cut and Thunderbolt
  • Shadow Gyarados with Waterfall and Aqua Tail
  • Shadow Magnezone with Spark and Wild Charge

Note: Shadow Tyranitar and Shadow Aerodactyl outperform everything but Rampardos. Shadow Omastar and Shadow Zapdos also perform on par with the other best counters. If you are able to coordinate the use of Mega Blastoise, it will boost other Water type counters making Shadow Gyarados far more competitive.

How many players does it take to beat Ho-Oh?

Ho-Oh Raids are highly dependent on Ho-Oh’s moveset. Most of the good counters are weak to Solar Beam, and even when not weak to it, this move hits very hard. If you’re going up against a Solar Beam Ho-Oh, you will probably need a larger group. Still, with the best counters, level 35 or higher Trainers can duo this Raid. If you are lacking the best counters or are a lower level, you’ll want at least four players.

The following Weather conditions can impact this Raid:

  • Sunny/Clear Weather will boost Ho-Oh’s Fire and Grass type moves.
  • Windy Weather will boost its Flying and Psychic type moves.
  • Cloudy Weather will boost its Fighting type attack.
  • Snow will boost its Steel type attack.
  • Partly Cloudy Weather will boost your Rock type counters.
  • Rain will boost you Water and Electric type counters.


Do you have any questions about taking on Ho-Oh in Pokémon Go? Got any tips for your fellow Trainers? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our Complete Pokédex, as well as our many Pokémon Go guides so you can be the very best, like no one ever was!

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