Pokémon Sword and Shield: Guide to Starters and Pokémon Gyms

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Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are the newest additions in the vast series of Pokémon games. Developed by Game Freak and published by The Pokémon Company, it is exclusively available for the Nintendo Switch.

Sword and Shield take place in the Galar region, which got its inspiration from Great Britain. Players start their journey with a starter Pokémon to become the strongest trainer in the Galar region, starting alongside their rival Hop. The new region consists of countryside towns with cottages and Victorian-inspired architectures to the south. The center of the region took cues from the steampunk-style elements of 18th Century London.

In this guide, we will discuss the Galar region, including a walkthrough for every gym, and tips for selecting a starter in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Picking Up Your Starter Pokémon

Similar to every Pokémon game, players will embark on their journey by choosing a starter Pokémon they want to train. Each one of them will either be Grass, Fire, or Water-type and comes with two evolution steps. The last forms of each of this Pokémon do not have a secondary type, unlike the previous generation.

The three starter Pokémon are Grookey, Scorbunnt, and Sobble. Below we will talk about the specialties of each Pokémon and its final form.

Note that all three of the starters are great choices. It just comes down to the player’s preferences. Personally, I start with a Fire-type Pokémon in every game – because why not.

Grookey

A mischievous Chimp Pokémon that is full of boundless curiosity.

Category Chimp Pokémon
Type Grass
Height 1’
Ability Overgrown
Weight 11 lbs.
  • The stick that Grookey holds is a branch from the forest where troops of Grookey live. It gains special powers after Grookey transforms its energy to the stick.
  • Grookey’s green fur can create energy from sunlight. In dry summer or winter, flowers and leaves gain back their color when Grookey drums with its stick near them.

Rillaboom: Grookey’s Final Form

Grookey’s final evolution Rillaboom is the strongest of the three starter Pokémon final forms because of its 100 HP, 70 Special Defense, 90 Defense, and 125 Attack. Rillaboom also has a  Speed stat at 85, but and sacrifices in terms of Special Attack at 60.

Rillaboom’s signature move “Drum Beating” is the most impactful attack. It will lower the afflicted Pokémon’s speed by a tier. The 100% accuracy also gives you the advantage to do significant damage to your opponent’s Pokémon at the beginning of the fight.

Scorbunny

A Rabbit Pokémon that is always running about, bursting with energy.

Category Rabbit Pokémon
Type Fire
Height 1’
Ability Blaze
Weight 9.9 lbs.
  • Scorbunny confuses and disorients its enemy by using its powerful legs to run and jump around them.
  • Scorbunny’s feet can become very hot, which it can use to kick opponents to inflict fire damage.
  • The Fire-type Pokémon has a fire sac in its chest, which contains pure fire energy.

Cinderace: Scorbunny’s Final Form

The final form of Scorbunny, Cinderace, is more on Speed and Basic Attacks. With a Speed of 119, it is the second-fastest final evolution of the starter Pokémon in the Galar region. However, Cinderace’s Special Defense Defense stats are marginally lower.

The signature move of Cinderace is Pyroball, a Fire attack that inflicts 120 damage, 90% accuracy, and costs 5 PP with each strike. If this attack hits, there is a chance your opponent’s Pokémon will receive a Burn status.

Sobble

A somewhat timid Water Lizard Pokémon that shoots out attacks as it hides in the water.

Category Water Lizard
Type Water
Height 1’
Ability Torrent
Weight 8.8 lbs.
  • Sobble can blend and disappear in the water by changing its body pattern and color, also secreting water like sweat.
  • Sobble’s tears can make another Pokémon cry, giving Sobble the chance to inflict damage to rival’s Pokémon in the meantime.

Inteleon: Sobble’s Final Form

Inteleon is the final form of Sobble. This Water lizard has a base stat of 120 with a peak of 125. Similar to Cinderance, Inteleon is a bit weak in terms of Special Defense and Defense stats of 65. Even though Inteleon’s 85 Attack power, the signature move called Snipe Shot, allows Inteleon to ignore the effects of the opponent’s Pokémon attacks.

Exploring Galar Region and the Pokémon Gyms

The Galar Region in Pokémon Sword and Shield consists of various biomes, each having different Pokémon spawns. However, the Wild Area spawn almost all of the Pokémon varying by the weather.

Once you visit all the landmarks in the region, you can use the Corviknight taxi system to fast travel to one place to another. You can check out the map below to learn more about the locations.

Tips and Tricks for Wild Area

Once you obtain your starter Pokémon and participate in the Galarian gym challenge, you make your way into the Wild Area. It is enormous, and it takes time to understand all the aspects. Pokémon will show up everywhere, but now you have the ability to avoid or fight a wild Pokémon by running into them.

  • TMs are scattered through the Wild Area for teaching your Pokémon useful moves. Similar to the previous games, these items resemble Poké Balls.
  • Press the left analog stick on your Joycon to whistle. This is helpful, especially when a wild Pokémon is flying above you so that you can call them to battle.
  • When you see a bubbling spot in a water puddle, get closer to it and press A to start fishing. Unlike the previous games, you won’t require to obtain a fishing rod from an NPC. Once you see an exclamation sign above your character, press A to reel in the fishing line and encounter a water-type Pokémon.
  • Look out for sparkles on the ground when you navigate through the wild area. You can interact with it to pick up items like Fancy Apples or Tiny Mushrooms. You can also return to the Wild Area in a while, as more items respawn in random places.

Pokémon Gyms

To get to the Pokémon League, you have to collect gym badges. In order to obtain gym badges, you have to fight gym leaders in the Galar Region. Pokémon Sword and Shield also comes with two exclusive gyms for each game, which we are going to talk about below.

Turffield Gym

Gym Leader Milo
Leader’s Pokémon Gossifleur (Level 19), Eldegoss (Level 20) [Grass-type]
Rewards TM10 (Magical Leaf), grass-type uniform, unlocks Level 25 Pokémon

Here are some Pokémon you can use to defeat Milo:

  • Vulpix (Fire-type): Found on Route 3 and Wild Area (Sunny).
  • Rookidee (Flying-type): Found on Route 1, 2, and 3.
  • Woobat (Psychic and Flying-type): Found in the Galar Mine.

Hulbury Gym

Gym Leader Nessa
Leader’s Pokémon Goldeen (Level 22), Arrokuda (Level 23), Drednaw (Level 24) [Water-type]
Rewards TM36 (Whirlpool), water-type gym uniform, unlocks Level 30 Pokémon

Here are some Pokémon you can use to defeat Nessa:

  • Wooper (Water and Ground-type): Found in West Lake Axewell in the Wild Area (Not when it’s snowy or sunny).
  • Bounsweet (Grass-type): Found in Dappled Grove, Rolling Fields, West Lake Axewell, Watchtower Ruins, and East Lake Axewell in the Wild Area.
  • Lotad (Shield exclusive) (Grass and Water-type): Found on Route 2.
  • Seedot (Sword exclusive) (Grass-type): Found on Route 2.

Motostroke Gym

Gym Leader Kabu
Leader’s Pokémon Ninetails (Level 25), Arcanine (Level 25), Centiskroch (Level 27) [Fire-type]
Rewards TM38 (Will-O-Wisp), fire-type gym uniform, unlocks Level 35 Pokémon

Check out the list of Pokémon below to defeat Kabu.

  • Wooper (Water and Ground-type)
  • Diglett (Ground-type): Found in Galar Mine. 
  • Tympole (Water-type): Found in Dappled Grove, West Lake Axewell, Watchtower Ruins, North Lake Miloch, and South Lake Miloch in the Wild Area.
  • Magikarp (Water-type): Route 2, Wild Area, Motostoke.

Stow-on-Side Gym (Sword exclusive)

Gym Leader Bea
Leader’s Pokémon Hitmontop (Level 34), Pangoro (Level 34), Sirfetch’d (Level 35), Machamp (Level 36) [Fighting-type]
Rewards TM42 (Revenge), fighting-type gym uniform, unlock Level 40 Pokémon

The Pokémon you can use against Bea are:

  • Woobat (Psychic and Flying-type)
  • Espurr (Psychic): Found on Route 5.
  • Swirlix (Sword exclusive) (Fairy-type): Found on Route 5.
  • Spritzee (Shield exclusive) (Fairy-type): Found on Route 5.

Stow-on-Side Gym (Shield exclusive)

Gym Leader Allister
Leader’s Pokémon Yamask (Level 34), Mimikyu (Level 34), Cursola (Level 35), Gengar (Level 35) [Ghost-type]
Rewards TM77 (Hex), ghost-type gym uniform, unlock Level 40 Pokémon

Here are some Pokémon you can use to fight Allister’s squad:

  • Drifloon (Ghost and Flying-type): Found on Route 5, Watchtower Ruins in the Wild Area.
  • Duskull (Ghost-type): Found in Watchtower Ruins and Motostoke Riverbank in the Wild Area.
  • Impidimp (Dark and Fairy-type): Found in Motostoke Outskirts.
  • Sneasel (Dark and Ice-type): Found in Motostoke Riverbank in the Wild Area (Snowy).

Ballonlea Gym

Gym Leader Opal
Leader’s Pokémon Weezing (Level 36), Togekiss (Level 37), Mawile (Level 36), Alcremile (Level 38) [Fairy-type]
Rewards TM87 (Draining Kiss, fairy-type gym uniform, unlock Level 45 Pokémon

To defeat Opal, you can use:

  • Koffing (Poison-type): Found in Motostoke Outskirts.
  • Skorupi (Poison-type): Found on Route 6.
  • Meowth (Steel-type): Found on Route 4.
  • Klink (Steel-type): Found on Route 3.

Circhester Gym (Sword exclusive)

Gym Leader Gordie
Leader’s Pokémon Barbaracle (Level 40), Shuckle (Level 40), Stonjourner (Level 41), Coalossal (Level 42) [Rock-type]
Rewards TM48 (Rock Tomb), rock-themed uniform, unlocks Level 50 Pokémon

Gordie’s squad can be defeated with:

  • Seedot (Sword exclusive) (Grass-type)
  • Diglett (Ground-type)
  • Wooper (Water and Ground-type)

Circhester Gym (Shield exclusive)

Gym Leader Melony
Leader’s Pokémon Frosmoth (Level 40), Darmanitan (Level 40), Eiscue (Level 41), Lapras (Level 42) [Ice-type]
Rewards TM27 (Icy Wind), ice gym uniform, unlock Level 50 Pokémon

We recommend you to use these Pokémon to fight Melony:

  • Stufful (Normal and Fighting-type): Found on Route 5 and East Lake Axewell in the Wild Area.
  • Tyrogue (Fighting-type): Found on Route 3 and Rolling Fields in the Wild Area.
  • Vulpix (Fire-type)
  • Meowth (Steel-type)

Spikemuth Gym

Gym Leader Piers
Leader’s Pokémon Scrafty (Level 44), Malamar (Level 45), Skuntank (Level 45), Obstagon (Level 46) [Dark-type]
Rewards TM85 (Snarl), Dark-type uniform, unlock Level 55 Pokémon

You can fight Piers with the Pokémon below:

  • Caterpie (Bug-type)
  • Stufful (Normal and fighting-type)
  • Tyrogue (Fighting-type)
  • Milcrey (Fairy-type): Found on Route 4. 

Hammerlocke Gym

Gym Leader Raihan
Leader’s Pokémon Flygon (Level 47), Gigalith (Level 46), Sandaconda (Level 46), Duraludon (Level 48) [Dragon, Steel, Ground, and Rock-type]
Rewards TM99 (Breaking Swipe), dragon-type gym uniform, unlocks Level 60 Pokémon

Here are the Pokémon you can use against Raihan:

  • Milcrey (Fairy-type)
  • Axew (Dragon-type): Found on Route 6.
  • Darumaka (Ice-type): Found on Route 8.
  • Magikarp (Water-type)

Conclusion

In this guide, we have provided a detailed guide to help you choose your starter in Pokémon Sword and Shield. We have also briefly discussed Galar Region and its Pokémon Gyms. You can follow our recommendations to beat the gym leader and get access to the Pokémon League in the game. If you have any questions related to this game, let us know in the comments below. We will try to cover more on Pokémon Sword and Shield.

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