Which is the best starter in Pokemon Sword and Shield?
Every mainline Pokémon series game since the dawn of time—or since 1996—started with a choice. You begin your journey by choosing which Pokémon companion will accompany you: a Grass, a Fire, or a Water Pokémon. These Pokémon in the Galar region of Sword and Shield are Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble.
Your starter is generally the strongest Pokemon you can get in the first part of the game, and your choice will affect how big battles against the Gym Leaders turn out. Choosing the best starter in Pokémon Sword & Shield will determine how well you do in the early battles.
Let’s take a look at how your journeys with these Pokémon might begin and how they might end as they evolve later in the game, so you can figure out which starter works best for your playstyle and version.
The Choice of Grookey (Rillaboom)
Choosing Grookey, the Chimp Pokémon, can be seen as potentially the most challenging path, but it can also be just as rewarding. Grookey is the most physically strong starter, but it’s also the most defensive starter of the three, and pairs well with another defensive Pokemon you can get early on Wooloo.
If you have both Dubwool and Rillaboom, or the Wooloo and Grookey evolutions, on your team late in the game, it can be important to withstand strong attacks unless they’re particularly effective.
If you prefer to play defensively, Grookey is undoubtedly your best choice, but you can also play it offensively. But beware – Rillaboom will not be of much help against Champion Leon other than Seismitoad and may even sit out the fight. Based on type advantages is Grookey optimized for Sword as a shield.
Main advantages of the type over: Nessa, Gordie (sword)
Main disadvantages of the type: Kabu, Melony (Shield)
- stop it [Dark, 65/100, removes target’s hold item]
- drumbeat [Grass 80/100, lower’s target’s speed]
- mallet [Grass, 120/100, recoil]
- boom burst [Normal, 140/100, all targets]
Attack of the movement teacher: wild plant [Grass, 150/90, skip next turn]
The Choice of Scorbunny (Cinderace)
If you want to start out really simple and progress into a slightly more nuanced story arc, Scorbunny might be your pick. The first fight in the gym is against a Grass-type boss, which means you can rip him apart pretty easily. However, even without an advantage, the fight is not difficult.
Cinderace’s attack and defense in the final evolution are much lower than Rillaboom’s, but her special defense is slightly higher. However, Cinderace is much more nuanced and is the best choice for those who want to prioritize two types since Cinderace is Fire-type And Combat type while the rest are simply typed. Cinderace will also be extremely effective against two of Champion Leon’s Pokémon: Aegislash and Mr. Rime. Based on type advantages, Scorbunny is optimized for shield rather than sword.
Main advantages of the type over: Milo, Melony (Shield)
Main disadvantages of the type: Nessa, Gordie (sword)
- pyroball [Fire, 120/90, may burn target]
- Switch [Fighting, ?/100, Inflicts double physical damage taken that turn]
- Double [Normal, 120/100, recoil]
- bouncing [Flying, 85/85, Dodge one turn then attack, may paralyze]
Attack of the movement teacher: explosion fire [Fire, 150/90, skip next turn]
Choosing Sobble (Inteleon)
Sobble will give you a tough start, but they might be your best bet in the long run. You won’t be very effective against either of the first two Gym types, but once you hit Kabu you’ll be able to defeat him with ease and not have to worry about much of a disadvantage for the rest of the game.
Another thing to note about this choice is that the special attack for her advancement, Inteleon, is the highest of the three starters. It alone has a special attack of the other two combined. If you’re the type that prioritizes special attacks, Sobble is the only choice for you. It’s also helpful to note that Sobble is an excellent choice if you want a significant advantage over Champion Leon’s Gigantamax Pokémon, Charizard. Based on type advantages, Sobble is optimized for sword rather than shield.
Main advantages of the type over: Kabu, Gordie (sword)
Main disadvantages of the type: Milo
- water pulse [Water, 60/100, may confuse target]
- sucker Punch [Dark, 70/100, goes first, fails if target is not attacking]
- liquidation [Water, 85/100, may lower target defense]
- hydro pump [Water, 110/80]
Attack of the movement teacher: hydrocannon [Water, 150/90, skip next turn]
Objectively, Sobble is the best choice specifically for the game, and Pokemon Sword in particular. However, choosing Sobble will make it difficult to get started, especially for new players. Subjectively, Sobble is best for players with special attacks, Grookey is best for players with defensive or physical attacks, and Scorbunny is best for players who like to balance two different types and therefore two different types of attack sets for their starter Pokemon.
Ultimately, analyzes can only say so much. When choosing a starter, choose the one that feels best to you, as it will become your Pokémon partner for the next few hours no matter how many hours you put into the title. So who will it be?