Pokemon Sword and Shield Tips Guide: 8 Things The Game Doesn’t Tell You

Now that trainers worldwide have had a few days to sink their teeth into Pokemon Sword and Shield, there are a lot of things that seem unclear or go aren’t properly introduced. Many staples of the series seem to have been hidden, reworked or omitted, and new mechanics aren’t explained very well. To help with that we have a list of Sword and Shield tips right here.

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You Can Obtain an IV Checker

For the unacquainted, Pokemon in general have two factors that affect how strong they are: Individual Values (IVs) and Effort Values (EVs). EVs can be raised and lowered through battle and items. For example, defeating a Skowvet will grant HP EVs. For every 4 EVs in a stat, the Pokemon gains 1 stat point. Each stat can only have an effective maximum of 252 EVs (or 63 bonus points), and a Pokemon can only have an effective total of 508 EVs (127 bonus points) total.

Individual Values are the inherent bonus stats that a Pokemon can have, however they cannot be altered — except through Bottle Caps; more on this later. They range on a scale of 0-31 for each stat, and are unlimited in which ones can be maxed. Essentially, a “perfect” Pokemon would have 31 IVs in all six stats. However, IVs cannot be detected normally; you require an IV Checker.

You can obtain the IV Checker by beating 6 battles in the post-game Battle Tower, the sixth fight being Leon. Afterwards, you can access the IV Checker by pressing “+” while looking at your Pokemon Box.

pokemon sword and shield breeding

How to Breed Pokemon Like A Pro

Strap in, this section is gonna be long. Before you get into this section, it’s highly recommended you get the IV Checker first.

[Editor’s Note: If you have no interest in passing good IVs on to other Pokemon via breeding, you can get max level IVs using Mints and such. It’s much easier for the average player. Read up on that later on in the post.]

Okay, so let’s say you’re interested in making some competitive Pokemon. The absolute easiest way to grind this out requires some prep work:

Step 1: Acquire some Ditto

Ditto can breed with any non-legendary Pokemon, making Ditto an absolute must-have for competitive breeding. Generally a Ditto caught in the wild will only yield a 20 to 40% chance of an egg, which sucks, right? Thankfully there’s a workaround: Pokemon from other Trainers increase the breed chance significantly!

That’s not all, however. Your Ditto must have “perfect” (31) IVs, preferably in at least 4 stats, before you continue. Otherwise you’re just wasting time tossing bad Pokemon into the Surprise Trade. Furthermore, while not strictly necessary, it is much easier in the long run to have a Ditto with the Nature you want. Most popular choices tend to be Timid, Jolly, Adamant, Modest, Bold and Calm.

So, to recap, for a “perfect” Ditto, you need another Trainer to trade you a Ditto with 4+ perfect IVs, and preferably the Nature you want on your final Pokemon.

Now, you could grind catching Ditto at the Lake of Outrage in the Wild Area (requires Rotom Bike Surf Upgrade) and offer them up on the numerous trading Discords and websites. There is a (slightly, kind of, not really) easier way though. Connect to the Internet, load the most recent Stamps (Press X), and select the “Search Stamps” option in the Y-Menu. Sort by “Max Raid Invites” and look for a silhouette of Ditto. Ditto Raids, preferably of the 4-Star variety or greater, guarantee at least 3 IVs will be “Best” (31). If you see none on the tracker, you will sadly have to wait until a refresh to check again.

pokemon sword and shield ditto

Step 2: Acquire The Pokemon You Want

Perhaps a bit obvious, but in order to breed towards the good Pokemon you want, you need at least one of them already. Ideally, again, you would want already good IVs and Nature you’re aiming for. You can also add Egg Moves into the mix, as well as Hidden Abilities, but these are quite advanced. Just know that if you desire a certain Hidden Ability, you’ll need to catch that Pokemon from a Max Raid first and try to get it passed down.

Step 3: Acquire Everstone and Destiny Knot

Find the Everstone just outside the Turffield Gym (on the right side), and the Destiny Knot can be bought for 10 BP at Hammerlocke’s Pokemon Center. You can obtain BP from the Battle Tower, so if you have the IV Checker already, you can purchase this no problem.

Give the Everstone to the Pokemon that has the Nature you desire, and the Destiny Knot to the other Pokemon.

Step 4: Get Cracking

Leave Ditto and your other Pokemon at either of the Pokemon Nurseries (One is located at the Wild Area near the bridges, and the other is located at Route 5; both can be flown to directly from the Town Map.)

Grab the Litwick you caught at the Fire Gym and stick it in your party. Litwick has the Flame Body ability, which has a hidden trait: it cuts the time spent hatching Eggs by 50%.

Hop on your Rotom Bike and ride around in circles; when you see the outside Pokemon Attendant take a “thinking” pose, that means your Pokemon created an Egg. Grab it, and continue to ride around in circles; this not only gets you more Eggs, but also starts the steps required to hatch the Eggs in your party.

Once the Eggs hatch, check the IVs of your baby Pokemon; if the IVs are better than the one you left at the Daycare, swap them and Surprise Trade the now-obsolete Pokemon like the crazy eugenics freak you are. Continue this process until you get a Pokemon with IVs you are happy with!

pokemon sword and shield max raid battles

Max Raid Battle Tips

Undoubtedly you’ve seen giant pillars of light while roaming the Wild Area; these signify the location of Pokemon Dens that are active. The Dens contain Dynamax’d Pokemon, which are functionally Raid Bosses.

These fights are labeled via a star system, similar to Pokemon GO. Any one to four star dens are generally soloable assuming you have type advantage and are familiar with the raid mechanics, As a rule, every X percentage of a bosses’ health bar they will throw up a shield that reduces damage and prevents status effects. Learning what percentage this is really helps make them easier.

The five star raids however, are tough. You will likely want at least one other player to help. If the Raid Boss defeats four opponents, you will be removed from the raid. This means they can eliminate the well-meaning but incredibly dumb AI (that thought they’d bring a Magikarp or Togepi to the fight) four times, and win.

These Dens respawn once you clear all of them out; but you can also zero in on specific Pokemon by keeping an eye on your Max Raid Battle Stamp list in the lower left corner, and joining up with other players. Again, the higher the stars, the more perfect IVs the captured Pokemon will have!

pokemon sword and shield lucky egg

Get the Lucky Egg for Double Exp

Lucky Eggs are wonderful items that double your experience points earned from battles. While potentially less useful now that Max Raids are a thing — seriously, the Exp Candies that raids give exorbitant amounts of experience — they can still be an excellent way to gain experience.

Once you become the Champion, go back to Hulbury’s Seafood Restaurant. Talk to the Chef, and he’ll have you make three deliveries around town. The first is located at the house closest to the train station, the second is the house closest to the Stadium (with a Swirlix inside), and the third is the market stall with a green roof. After completing these tasks, you’ll be given a Lucky Egg.

You Can Improve Your Rotom Bike

You can enhance your bike beyond the Surf upgrade! By spending Watts at any of the Wild Area vendors, you can reduce the cooldown on the B-Button Sprint. It costs 1,000 / 2,000 / 5,000 Watts to upgrade your bike, for a grand total of 8,000. Better get raiding!

How to Get Gigantimax Charmander

Think Leon’s Charizard is super cool? You can obtain your own! Once you become the Champion, go back to Postwick, over to Hop and Leon’s house. Head upstairs, and inside Leon’s room you’ll find a special Charmander that can Gigantimax (once evolved to Charizard, of course!)

This Charmander CANNOT be Synchronized, so if you want a specific Nature, you’ll need to soft-reset (check the Nature and then close the game out if it’s not what you’re looking for.) Furthermore, the Gigantimax property cannot be passed down via breeding.

Tweak your Pokemon with Mints, Bottle Caps, and Ability Capsules

If you’re tired of hunting for specific Natures, you can always cheat the system by using a Mint. Mints are obtained from the Battle Tower for 50 BP, which is a hefty price to pay, but this can save you a tremendous amount of time. If you’ve stumbled upon an almost perfect Pokemon, Mints allow you to change Natures on the fly.

You can also buy Bottle Caps for 25 BP, which allows you to raise one stats’ IVs to max. This isn’t passable via breeding, however, so it’s a one and done deal for the Pokemon you spend it on.

Finally, you can also purchase Ability Capsules for 50 BP, which can swap your Pokemon’s Ability for its alternate one, assuming they have it. For example, if I wanted to switch my Galarian Weezing’s Levitate to Neutralizing Gas, I’d toss it one of these capsules.

However, Ability Capsules DO NOT work for Hidden Abilities. Using G-Weezing as an example, if I wanted Misty Terrain, I’d have to catch one via a Max Raid.

You Can EV Train at the Hammerlocke School

If you’re like me, you probably skipped over the Poke Jobs mechanic, thinking it was just an offline experience point mechanic. Once you become the Champion, however, a new feature opens up! Hit up that Rotom PC, because the Hammerlocke School has opened its doors for Effort Value training, allowing you to mass train Pokemon, without having to go out and farm battles!

You may still need to grab the EV items (Power Anklet, Power Bracer, etc.) and do a little tweaking, but this seems to be a much needed replacement for Hyper Training.

That’s about it for now! The game is still being pulled apart, so there are undoubtedly hidden mysteries just waiting to be uncovered. We’ll be sure to update if anything major gets discovered! What Pokemon are you working towards first? Are you trying to breed, or just having fun with Max Raids? Let us know below in the comments!

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James Upton

James is an avid fan of dead series. Ask him how many hours he spent in Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine, or how many times he's platinumed the .hack// HD remake (two). You can make fun of him over at @surtrz on twitter.

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