Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Top Pokémon: Single Battles, Double Battles, Any Battles

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Top Pokémon: Single Battles, Double Battles, Any Battles


The Galar region in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon
Shield
is full of all sorts of Pokémon—some are cute, some are quirky, some
are mysterious, and some are powerful. As you build your collection, you’ll
learn about lots of different Pokémon and see how differently they perform in
battle. If you’re looking for the Pokémon that perform best for your next
battle—whether through sheer power or tricky tactics—take a look at these Galarian
greats. We’ve broken them down into three groups: Pokémon that are particularly
impactful in Single Battles, Pokémon that excel Double Battles, and those that have
had an undeniable presence in both.

If you’re assembling a team of Pokémon to carry your next
Single Battle against your friends, try out some of these standouts debuting in
Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. None of them are slouches in
Double Battles, either, but each have qualities that make them particularly
well suited to Single Battles.

The Darmanitan of the Galar region have proven so effective
in Single Battles that they’re likely to send a chill up their opponent’s spine
when they’re sent out into battle—and that’s before they start using their
Ice-type attacks!

The key to Galarian Darmanitan’s success is the Gorilla
Tactics Ability, which increases its Attack stat while only allowing it to use
the first move it selects in battle—the same effect as the item Choice Band.
What makes Galarian Darmanitan so devastating is that since it’s locked into
one move anyway, there’s no additional drawback to giving it a Choice Band to
boost its Attack even further or a Choice Scarf to boost its Speed in addition
to its Attack.

Even if the only attack Galarian Darmanitan could learn was
Icicle Crash, Gorilla Tactics would probably be enough to make it a pretty
powerful Pokémon. Unfortunately for its opponents, Galarian Darmanitan also has
access to the Flare Blitz attack through TR55, allowing it to counter most Ice-
or Steel-type Pokémon that would otherwise have been a solid answer to Icicle
Crash. Add in U-turn to dish out some damage without much risk and another
powerful physical attack like Superpower or Earthquake, and you’ve got yourself
a truly fearsome Pokémon. Just be careful about Dynamaxing Darmanitan—the
effects of Choice Band, Choice Scarf, and Gorilla Tactics will all temporarily
stop during Dynamax.

Corviknight is a fascinating Pokémon in Single Battles
because it combines many desirable defensive qualities for Single Battles into
one package.

As a Steel type, Corviknight can slow down many of the
preeminent attackers available, especially powerful Dragon types and Fairy types.
And perhaps owing to the Flying-type part of its heritage, Corviknight also has
access to Defog as an Egg Move, making it a great choice to protect its
teammates from the harmful effects of Stealth Rock and similar moves in full
six-on-six Single Battles. Thanks to its stout defensive stats, it can easily switch
into battle, remove the effects of Stealth Rock or Toxic Spikes, and restore
its own lost HP with Roost so it remains healthy enough to repeat the cycle
again.

If you’re wanting a less passive approach—which better fits
the three-on-three format of Battle Stadium matches—try teaching Corviknight
Bulk Up instead of Defog. You’ll typically see fewer spikes and pointed rocks
in this format, and Corviknight can prove itself to be quite the problem when
your opponent only has three Pokémon to deal with it. With strong Sp. Def and a
Bulk Up or two to power up Brave Bird or Body Press, Corviknight can often take
down teams lacking special Fire- or Electric-type attacks solo.

It seems like Fire-type first partner Pokémon always wind up
a step ahead of their rivals in competitive battles, and the offensive-oriented
Cinderace is again no slouch. The Striker Pokémon has two fun elements working
in its favor—its stats and a unique move.

Like many Pokémon that are successful in Single Battles,
Cinderace is very quick and can dish out a lot of damage with powerful attacks
like Pyro Ball and High Jump Kick. And like many of the popular offensive
Pokémon discovered recently, it makes great use of U-turn to do a little damage
and escape battle, helping its Trainer get a leg up on the opponent with a
mid-turn Pokémon swap. If you’re planning to use Cinderace in the Battle
Stadium, these are great strengths to focus on.

Cinderace’s other interesting quality is Court Change, a
quirky move that only it can learn. This move swaps the lingering effects of
moves like Reflect, Stealth Rock, and Tailwind from one team to the other.
Moves like Stealth Rock and Spikes are a huge part of many Trainers’ strategies
for full six-on-six Single Battles, enabling Cinderace to undo turns of work
with a single action. Consider giving Cinderace the new item Heavy-Duty Boots
to hold—this will prevent it from taking damage from entry hazards like Stealth
Rock when it switches into battle, allowing it to Court Change them away more
safely.

The Galar region is also rich with Pokémon that are
particularly powerful in the Double Battle format, either by supporting their teammates
or by preventing their opponents from doing the same.

The helpful Indeedee is a quintessential supportive Pokémon
in Double Battles, particularly if your Indeedee is female. Each gender of
Indeedee acts as a different form that can learn slightly different moves, and the
crucial Follow Me is exclusive to the female version of this species.

With so many players opting to use Togekiss to support their
team by defeating their enemies instead of by protecting its allies directly,
there’s been a real need for a reliable Pokémon to protect vulnerable Pokémon
with Follow Me. Indeedee fits the role nicely—it’s naturally sturdy, and on top
of Follow Me the female version of Indeedee has access to a number of other
excellent supportive moves, most notably Heal Pulse as an Egg Move and Helping
Hand.

Indeedee’s Hidden Ability, Psychic Surge, is a great boon to
the role it plays in Double Battles. Psychic Surge makes it very difficult for
the opponent to use Fake Out successfully, and since many of the Pokémon that
are typically taught Taunt also have the Prankster Ability, the Psychic Terrain
that Indeedee creates blocks that, too. Indeedee is an indispensable ally to
teams that desperately need Trick Room to be activated, as well as to frailer
attacking Pokémon.

Duraludon has been a powerful choice in Double Battles
because of its Hidden Ability, Stalwart, particularly in those battles taking
place at Video Game Championships events. Stalwart makes Duraludon’s moves
ignore the effects of opposing Pokémon’s Abilities and moves that draw in opposing
Pokémon’s moves.

Many Trainers devise Double Battle strategies in which one
sturdy defensive Pokémon like Indeedee uses a move that redirects attacks to
defend a Pokémon that plays a core role in their strategy. Thanks to Stalwart,
Duraludon doesn’t have to waste time knocking out the Pokémon trying to
sacrifice itself before it can get to the higher value target—it simply ignores
moves like Follow Me or Rage Powder completely and damages the target it
selects.

Duraludon’s stats and moves aren’t too shabby, either. Its Sp.
Atk stat is quite high, and a wide array of attacks like Thunderbolt, Draco
Meteor, Solar Beam, and Flash Cannon make it a tricky foe. If you thought the
lore about its rivalry with the mighty Tyranitar
seemed a little
farfetched, you might be surprised to learn they’ve produced nearly the same
number of Championship Points this season!

While Alcremie might be best known for its stirring Evolution
method, it’s a really fun and unique Pokémon to deploy in Double Battles with a
powerful supportive move no other Pokémon can learn, as well as an outrageous
Gigantamax form.

Alcremie’s secret ingredient is the move Decorate, which
raises the target’s Attack and Sp. Atk by two stages. This neat trick harkens
back to the early days of the Video Game World Championships, where players
often had a Pokémon like Cresselia use Swagger on a partner holding a Lum or
Persim Berry to gain two levels of Attack. Not only does Decorate offer the
flexibility of boosting Attack or Sp. Atk without the hoops Swagger required,
but Decorate also goes through the target’s Protect or Detect, allowing them to
power up in relative safety.

Of course, Decorate isn’t all Alcremie can do. You probably
shouldn’t make a habit of Dynamaxing your support Pokémon, but Gigantamax
Alcremie’s G-Max Finale has a unique effect that, contrary to its name, extends
the battle by healing Alcremie and its partner for 1/6 their maximum HP. More
practically, the regular-sized Alcremie can use Fake Tears to lower an
opponent’s Sp. Def by two stages as an alternative means of boosting its
partner’s damage.

Some Pokémon are so strong they seem to transcend the rules
of a specific battling format to be excellent no matter where you deploy them.
If you’re looking for the best all-arounds from the Galar region, you’ll be
happy training these Pokémon.

The charming Dragapult has been a popular choice among fans
since they started adventuring in the Galar region. The versatile Dragon- and
Ghost-type Pokémon will delight its following by making almost any team it’s
included on better.

Quality typing and great stats highlighted by its blazing
Speed give Dragapult plenty of options in both Single and Double Battles. In
both formats, it’s effective as a strong special attacker with a variety of
useful moves while holding Choice Specs, Life Orb, or Choice Scarf. It’s plenty
viable as a physical attacker in Double Battles, as well. And in Single Battles
it can effectively run a more supportive set playing off its Ghost-type tricks
with Hex and Will-O-Wisp.

While you can teach Dragapult almost whatever moves you want
and be successful, its adeptness at playing off Dynamax perhaps make it the
strongest representative of competitive battling in Galar. Dragapult lacks a
Gigantamax form of its own, but it can help out several Gigantamax Pokémon as
they try to execute niche strategies, such as using Surf to activate Gigantamax
Coalossal’s Steam Engine Ability. Dynamaxing Dragapult itself is also a
fantastic strategy. Try giving it a Weakness Policy to hold and enjoy the results
if your opponent gets a little too aggressive towards Dragapult, or activate it
yourself with a weak attack like Shadow Sneak and watch Dragapult tear it up.

The tricky Grimmsnarl is an interesting Pokémon because it’s
powerful in both Single and Double Battles by doing slightly different things.
While typically players in both formats opt to take advantage of the powerful
Prankster Ability, what happens next is a little different in each format.

The strategy of giving Grimmsnarl Light Clay and combining
it with Reflect and Light Screen has remained more popular in Single Battles
than in Double Battles, where Grimmsnarl has largely been replaced by Gigantamax
Lapras. This strategy uses Grimmsnarl to reduce the damage of all incoming
attacks for its teammates, and its significant Attack stat helps it pack a
punch when a defensive tactic isn’t needed.

While some players use it the same way in Double Battles,
it’s really the combination of Fake Out and a Prankster-boosted Fake Tears that
has kept Grimmsnarl in the forefront of the metagame. Fake Out gives
Grimmsnarl’s teammates options against opposing Whimsicott that otherwise
wouldn’t work because of the common Focus Sash item. That one move almost
single-handedly prevents Grimmsnarl from simply being an inferior source of
Fake Tears to Whimsicott itself. The thematically appropriate Scary Face also
provides Grimmsnarl a reliable method of Speed control, reducing the target’s
Speed with perfect accuracy that the dodgier Thunder Wave can’t match.

Dracovish is a bit fascinating in that it’s very much the
same Pokémon in both Double Battles and Single Battles. If Galarian Darmanitan
owes most of its power to its Ability, then Dracovish takes this concept a step
further by owing its power to a single move—Fishious Rend.

This already powerful Water-type attack doubles in
power if the target attacks after the user (or if the target switched during
the turn), essentially giving a speedy Dracovish a 100% accurate 170 base power
attack. That 170 power is further increased by Dracovish’s same type attack
bonus as a Water type and again by the Ability Strong Jaw, should your Dracovish
have it (and hopefully it does!). Perhaps the strangest part of using Dracovish
is that you should think long and hard every time you don’t have it
attack with Fishious Rend. Thanks to all those boosts, even a resisted Fishious
Rend is almost always stronger than the other attacks Dracovish might know.

As you might imagine, strategies for Dracovish are built
around ensuring it moves before its target does to maximize the damage from
Fishious Rend. Many Trainers opt to give Dracovish the Speed-boosting Choice
Scarf to hold, ensuring it will outpace almost every Pokémon that lacks a Speed
increase of its own. For Trainers opting for maximum power, giving Dracovish a
Choice Band and supporting it with moves like Sticky Web in Single Battles or
Tailwind in Double Battles makes for a higher risk, higher reward strategy.

Have you been battling with these Pokémon, Trainers? Whether
you’re looking to climb to the top of the standings in the Battle Stadium or
just have fun with your friends, we hope you enjoy battling with all of the
Pokémon the Galar region has to offer. Enjoy your battles in Pokémon Sword
and Pokémon Shield, and remember to check back to Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon
TCG and video game strategy, tournament coverage, and analysis.



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