For those who have dabbled in many team-based strategy games, you’ll likely come to understand the premise behind this article and the importance that comes with it. For the less experienced or those entirely new to how team building works, this series will cover the various aspects behind team building, its merits, along with a plethora of other tidbits that can help you become a stronger player. In this article, we’ll be placing our attention exclusively on Pokémon Sword and Shield, plus dive deeper into the fundamental details pertaining to how to properly build a team from scratch, along with reasoning to help players feel less intimidated when starting out. With any type of new endeavor comes a caveat and in this case, building a solid team in Pokémon will require you to be creative in order to better understand the finer details behind each Pokémon. There’s no such thing as a perfect team and so we encourage all players to explore as much as they can and most importantly have fun! With that being said, let’s jump right in!
Creating a Blueprint
Like any individual looking to venture out into the unknown, it’s imperative that you do some research before piecing things together. This is where creating a blueprint comes into play and can help you to establish a starting point for the team you desire to make. For starters, ask yourself,
“What’s my favorite Pokémon? What are my favorite types? What playstyle will I focus on?”
Being specific with your questions can better help to underline just where your focus is being guided, and give you the starting point to keep building. We’ll give you an example for starters:
My favorite types of Pokémon in Sword and Shield are Water and Poison because, since Gen 1, water types are predominantly very strong due to their wide coverage and can provide a lot of setups with things such as Rain Dance, etc. Poison-types are among the strongest in terms of defensive play styles since their move pool generally creates obstacles for the other opponent to deal with, such as Toxic, Toxic Spikes, and all of the other attacks that sap the opponent’s life bar without much effort. Factor in that poison-types are only weak to ground and psychic-types, which make it a very big threat in the long run.
Now with this in mind I’ve created a small blueprint to start off, which will now act as a compass to lead me towards the Pokémon that suits my needs. Since poison and water were mentioned we’ll go with Mantine and Drapion for starters.
Forming a Unit
So now that we’ve established a starting point with both Mantine and Drapion, the next step is to form a unit around these two Pokémon. First, it’s important to note that Mantine is a water/flying-type and Drapion is a poison/dark-type, which means we’ll need to factor in their secondary typings moving forward. This is incredibly crucial when team building because you’ll have to pay careful attention to both typings along with their weaknesses. Water-types are generally weak to electric and grass-types, while flying is weak to electric, ice, and rock. This already puts Mantine at a severe disadvantage versus electric-types and must now be mindful of the hard-hitting rock-types. Fortunately, Mantine has immunity to the more threatening ground-types so as long as we cover these areas there should be no issue.
Drapion’s only real weakness is ground and so when looking at both Pokémon, Mantine can help to protect Drapion from those critical hits versus ground-types, while Drapion can likely take a few electric hits before fainting. Clearly, we’re not finished because, in Pokémon, we need a team of 6 to get the ball rolling, so let’s think of other Pokémon that can complement these two. The overwhelming aspect of team building in Pokémon Sword and Shield is that there’s a plethora of Pokémon to choose from, so knowing which ones merit your team can be daunting when starting out. There are Pokémon that fit into certain meta categories which we’ll cover in a future segment but for now let’s use these 4 Pokémon: Rotom Wash, Mudsdale, Dusknoir, and Galarian Weezing. We’ve also included secondary options should you feel the need to opt-out for another Pokémon of similar typing.
Piecing Everything Together
So now that we have a team of 6 we’ll need to start piecing everything together to ensure that our team has synergy. Synergy plays an integral role in building a consistent team because, without the right complimentary Pokémon, the unit can run into a lot of problems versus a wide variety of teams. It becomes glaringly obvious when your team simply can’t function well under pressure due to one Pokémon having to spend more resources in order to carry 2 other Pokémon, etc. With our team let’s dive into more detail and see just where our cracks lie:
Rotom Wash [Water/Electric] or Rotom Heat [Fire/Electric]
Galarian Weezing [Poison/Fairy]
Mantine [Water/Flying or ]Pelipper [Water/Flying]
Gourgeist [Ghost/Grass] or Dusknoir [Ghost]
Other viable options: Dhelmise [Ghost/Grass] / Charizard [Fire/Flying]
In this image, we can see that we have very strong ground coverage since 3 of our Pokémon have the ability Levitate, which grants them immunity. That’s already enough protection for Drapion! Earlier we mentioned Mantine being extremely weak to electric attacks so Mudsdale can jump in to counter that since it has electric immunity. The most glaring weakness of this team, however, comes in grass and ice, since it doesn’t really have a strong Pokémon that can truly cover both. Sure there’s Abomasnow and a few other grass-ice typings but they’re generally not strong enough or fast enough to really maintain a lead role, especially on this current team setup. Looking at the chart, we need to be able to establish control versus grass-types so that Rotom-Wash and Mudsdale can transition into battle smoothly. Gourgeist is a ghost/grass-type which is great because it helps us to cover those pesky water-types and ground-types like Gastrodon with Power Whip, and with its ghost typing, it gives us a strong advantage in coverage as well with Phantom Force. The only problem is we now have to pay more attention to its weaknesses because unlike Dusknoir’s mono-typing, Gourgeist has to worry about more threats along the way. We’ve mentioned Dusknoir as a secondary fit-in for Gourgeist and we’ll explain a little more succinctly.
Dusknoir is strong due to its only weaknesses being ghost and dark, and it can learn things like Thunder Punch, Brick Break, and Fire Punch, moves that counter grass and ice-types but without STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus), the damage output may not be enough to secure a KO at all times. Bear in mind that these are all physical attacks as well and so if the opposing team is playing with physically defensive Pokémon, it may create some issues. Or so you would like to think! Just because a Pokémon doesn’t have STAB damage doesn’t mean you can’t alter it in a way to make it work in your favor. Dusknoir’s typing, high attack power, and bulk can allow it to dish out enough damage when it matters without running into too many risks from the more predominantly used types.
Of course, there are other viable options to choose from but the point we’re trying to emphasize is quite evident: Team synergy is vital. There’s a lot to swallow in just this one segment and we’ve barely scratched the surface since there’s plenty more to discuss when it comes to picking the right Pokémon for the job. For now, let this be a guideline to help move you forward and perhaps give you some confidence on how to analyze things, plus take notes on how you’d like to approach developing a strategy.
In the next segment, we’ll be jumping into EVs, IVs, and the more intricate topics to help you better understand the next process of team building: Movesets. Knowing a Pokémon on the surface is great but understanding the meat and bones regarding how that Pokémon functions in battle is another thing, so we’ll help you to ensure your battles end in your favor!
Until next time!