Every major Pokémon game series since the dawn of time – or since 1996 – has started with a choice. You start your journey by choosing a companion Pokemon that will join you: Grass-type, Fire-type, or Water-type. Those Pokemon in Sword and Shield’s Galar area are Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble.
The starter is the most powerful Pokemon you can get in the early part of the game, and your choice will affect how major battles against Gym Leaders play out. Choosing the best player in Pokemon Sword & Shield determines how well you do in the first few battles.
Let’s take a look at how your journeys with these Pokemon might begin, and also how they might end as they evolve later in the game, so you can figure out the best start for your playstyle and version.
Grookey Selection (Rillaboom)
Choosing Grookey, a chimpanzee Pokémon, can be seen as potentially the most challenging path, but it can also be just as rewarding. Grookey is the physically strongest player, but also the most defensive starter of the three, and will pair well with other defensive Pokemon you can get early in Wooloo.
Having Dubwool and Rillaboom, evolutions of Wooloo and Grookey, respectively, on your team in the later game can be important for resisting powerful attacks, as long as they aren’t too effective.
If you prefer to play defensively, Grookey is the best option for you, although you can also play it offensively. Be warned, though – Rillaboom won’t help much against the hero Leon except for Seismitoad, and he might sit out the fight. On genre merits, Grookey is More suitable for Sword from a shield.
Advantages of main type vs.: Nessa, Jordi (Sword)
The main disadvantages of the type: Capo, Meloni (shield)
- Stop working or be killed [Dark, 65/100, removes target’s hold item]
- drumbeat [Grass 80/100, lower’s target’s speed]
- Wood hammer [Grass, 120/100, recoil]
- Bomberst [Normal, 140/100, all targets]
Master attack: Frenzy Factory [Grass, 150/90, skip next turn]
Scorbunny’s Choice (Cinderace)
If you want to start out really easy and get into a slightly more accurate arc, then Scorbunny might be your choice. The first fight in the gym is against a grass-type leader, which means you can tear him apart quite easily. However, the battle is not difficult even without an advantage.
Cinderace’s ultimate evolution attack and defense is much lower than Rillaboom’s, but their special defense is slightly higher. However, Cinderace is more subtle, and is the better choice for some who like to prioritize two types, since Cinderace is the fire type. And of the fighting type, while the rest are of the same type. Cinderace will also be very effective against two of Leon’s champion Pokémon: Aegislash and Mr. Rime. On the merits of the type, Scorbunny is better suited to Shield than Sword.
Advantages of main type vs.: Milo, Meloni (Shield)
The main disadvantages of the type: Nessa, Jordi (Sword)
- pyro ball [Fire, 120/90, may burn target]
- Counter [Fighting, ?/100, Inflicts double physical damage taken that turn]
- Double [Normal, 120/100, recoil]
- bounce [Flying, 85/85, Dodge one turn then attack, may paralyze]
Master attack: Burning blast [Fire, 150/90, skip next turn]
Choose Sobble (Inteleon)
Sobble will give you a rough start, but in the long run, it might be the better option. You won’t be very effective against either of the first two types of gyms, but once you get to Kabu you’ll be able to defeat him with ease, and not have to worry about major drawbacks for the rest of the game.
Another thing to note with this selection is that the special attack of their evolution, Inteleon, is the highest of the three starters. He alone has a special attack than the other two combined. If you’re the type who prioritizes special attacks, then Sobble is the only option for you. It’s also worth noting that Sobble is an excellent choice if you want a huge advantage against the Gigantamax Pokémon, Champion Leon’s Charizard. Based on the merits of the type, Sobble is more optimized for Sword than Shield.
Advantages of main type vs.: Capo, Jordi (sword)
The main disadvantages of the type: Milo
- water pulse [Water, 60/100, may confuse target]
- lollipop punch [Dark, 70/100, goes first, fails if target is not attacking]
- filtering [Water, 85/100, may lower target defense]
- Hydro pump [Water, 110/80]
Master attack: Hydro cannon [Water, 150/90, skip next turn]
Objectively, for the game specifically, and especially for Pokemon Sword, Sobble is the better choice. However, choosing Sobble will make starting the game difficult, especially for new players. Subjectively, Sobble is best for special attack players, Grookey is best for defensive or physical attack players, and Scorbunny is best for players who want to balance two and, by extension, two different types of attack combos for their starter Pokémon.
But at the end of the day, analytics can only say so much. When choosing a starter, choose the one you feel is right for you, as it will become your Pokémon partner in crime over the following hours however many hours you may pump into the title. So who will it be?