Pokémon Sword and Shield: How to make the best party

Pokémon Sword team
Pokémon Sword team (Image credit: iMore)

Pokémon fans, rejoice, for Sword and Shield are finally here! You may have picked up either Sword, or Shield, or both (hardcore), and are working your way through the game right now. As with any other Pokémon game, the key to becoming the next Champion is to have a great Pokémon team along your side. Here are some tips on getting there.

Catch a lot of Pokémon

Pokémon Sword and Shield Pokédex

Pokémon Sword and Shield Pokédex (Image credit: iMore)

This should be pretty obvious, but it could always be repeated: try and catch everything. There are hundreds of Pokémon in the game, and each one has its own type with strengths and weaknesses. The key to every Pokémon game is, as they say, "gotta catch 'em all!"

In order to build a great team, you're going to need to catch pretty much every Pokémon you come across, and try them out in battle. Plus, the game has built-in EXP Share, so even if you don't use a Pokémon in battle, it still gains EXP regardless.

Know your type advantages

Raboot against Vanillite

Raboot against Vanillite (Image credit: iMore)

Every Pokémon in the game has a type, and some even have dual-typings. With the types, every Pokémon is strong against specific types, while being weak against others. It's important to know what is good to use against each one, so battles are not as hard and drawn out. But you also need to remember what your own Pokémon are weak against, and have something to counter your own disadvantages.

Pokémon typing is pretty much just a game of rock, paper, scissors. Fire is strong against Grass, Bug, and Steel but weak against Water. Electric is strong against Water and Flying but weak against Ground. If you're facing off against a Gym Leader, understand their type, and build a team of Pokémon that are effective against them. When encountering wild Pokémon or trainers, just have a nice mix of several different types to cover your bases.

Have a well-balanced team

Nickit in current Pokémon team

Nickit in current Pokémon team (Image credit: iMore)

Usually, the starter Pokémon you pick in the beginning of the game is going to be your strongest Pokémon for quite a while. And even though it may be a little overpowered compared to the wild Pokémon you end up catching for a bit, it's important to remember that your starter isn't going to be strong against everything.

As you catch more Pokémon to fill up your Pokédex, remember to use some of those other Pokémon in your team. They won't start out very strong in terms of moves available, but as they level up with the EXP Share, they'll learn more moves. Once they have a nice arsenal of moves, make sure to test them out in battle. A good team should be well balanced, and not rely on just a single Pokémon to do all of the work.

Know a variety of moves

Raboot's IVs for moves

Raboot's IVs for moves (Image credit: iMore)

A good Pokémon team is only as good as the moves that they know. If you have a bunch of different types of Pokémon, but only the same techniques that don't take advantage of Same Type Advantage Bonus (STAB) moves, then what good does it do you?

It's also important to check your Pokémon's stats because some moves do better with a stronger physical attack while others are better with a higher special attack. Even if you have multiple Pokémon of the same type, you'll want to make sure that their moves are right for their individual strengths as well. So if you have two Fire Pokémon on your team, then you should have one a move like Flamethrower on the one with high Special Attack, and Fire Fang on the one with stronger Physical Attack.

A rule of thumb is to always check your Pokémon's stats and be sure that they have the right moves that take advantage of their unique strong points.

Take advantage of the Wild Area

The Wild Area ice sector

The Wild Area ice sector (Image credit: iMore)

A new feature in Pokémon Sword and Shield is the Wild Area. The Wild Area is huge and split up into a few different sectors that have a weather advantage/disadvantage, Raid Dens, Berry Trees, fishing spots, and a ton of different wild Pokémon.

If you are looking to build a strong party, the Wild Area is a great place to start. It's introduced pretty early on in the game, and there are a lot of different Pokémon to find and encounter here. The variety of Pokémon that you'll discover will change as you go into different sectors, and there are also a lot of fishing spots where you can find Water Pokémon. What's more, the kind of Pokémon that show up in the Wild Area will change depending on the weather. That means that you could come across completely different Pokémon in the same location on two different days.

There are also high level or evolved form Pokémon that you can find, but they're going to be much tougher to take down in battle and catch. Don't bother trying to catch anything above level 20 either on your first visit, because it's impossible — you'll need some Gym Badges to get that Haunter, for example.

Battle Dynamax and Gigantamax Pokémon in Max Raid Battles

Enter a Max Raid Battle screen

Enter a Max Raid Battle screen (Image credit: iMore)

As you explore the Wild Area, make sure to stop by each of those Raid Dens, which are marked by the pillars of light. Visiting these gets you Watts, which can be spent on one-time use TMs, upgrading bike speed, and more. You can also battle a wild Dynamax or Gigantamax Pokémon, which reward you with plenty of useful items upon a victory (they're tougher than normal battles though), and the opportunity to catch that defeated Pokémon.

Multiplayer Raids Pokemon Sword and Shield

Multiplayer Raids Pokemon Sword and Shield (Image credit: Game Freak)

While catching these wild Dynamax and Gigantamax Pokémon is completely optional, there are certain Pokémon that you can only find in the game through these Max Raid battles. So if you want some powerful Pokémon to add to your team, it's worth your time and effort to take these boss Pokémon on and catch them (they can't flee).

Gotta catch 'em all!

With these tips in mind, you should be on your way to building up a strong and formidable Pokémon team to have with you on your journey in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Have your own tips? Share them in the comments below.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.