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Pokémon Sword and Shield: How to choose the best starter Pokémon?

Which starter in Sword and Shield has the upper hand in terms of competitive advantage, looks, early-game usefulness, and so on?

Choosing the starter is an important decision in any Pokémon game. Some of us have aced the games so well that it might not be a consideration anymore – we might already have a favorite or the right pick could be ready for us from a competitive perspective. But time and again, a large number of players find themselves in the most life-changing of situations – deciding the starter in a new Pokémon game.

Looks aren’t enough to select one. Neither are the typing, evolution, competitive advantage (or disadvantage), and so on. It’s a culmination of it all.

Gotta catch ‘em all, sure, but also gotta choose the right one to start it with.

Sword and Shield: basic overview of the starters

Pokemon Sword and Shield best starter

The latest addition to the Pokémon video games, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, are both very popular among fans and currently rank as the fifth bestselling game on Nintendo Switch. They were released in November 2019. Although the initial response of the fans wasn’t great due to the exclusion of some classic Pokémon from the game, it got mostly positive reviews from critics for its new features, creature design, simplicity, freedom given to the players, and streamlined encounters. Additionally, the games also got two downloadable content expansion packs through an expansion pass, with ‘The Isle of Armor’ and ‘The Crown Tundra’.

So, who are the starters?

  • Grookey: Grass-type physical attacker. Final evolution: Rillaboom.
  • Scorbunny: Fire-type (better) physical attacker. Final evolution: Cinderace.
  • Sobble: Water-type special attacker. Final evolution: Inteleon.

Between Rillaboom, Cinderace, and Inteleon, Inteleon is the weakest of the set competitively.

HP/Attack/Defense/Sp. Attack/Sp. Defense/Speed:

  • Rillaboom: 100/125/90/60/70/85
  • Cinderace: 80/116/75/65/75/119
  • Inteleon: 70/85/65/125/65/120

Grookey: the Grass-type Sword and Shield starter Pokémon

Pokemon Sword and Shield Grookey
Grookey is among the least picked starters, which Grass-type-loyalists don’t seem to decode why.

Grookey is a little Grass-type monkey. Being the grass type, he is weak against Bug, Fire, Flying, Ice, and Poison-type moves. But he is strong against Ground, Rock, and Water-type moves. Grookey evolves into Thwackey and then into Rillaboom. Grookey carries a stick that actually has special powers thanks to Grookey’s energy. Grookey drums the stick on the ground, which is a key action later on when it evolves. When it evolves, it remains pure grass-type Pokémon.

Scorbunny: the Fire-type Sword and Shield starter Pokémon

Pokemon Sword and Shield Scorbunny
Scorbunny’s final evolution has a lot of in-game potential.

Scorbunny is an energetic fire type rabbit Pokémon. It runs so fast that the soles of its feet heat up and burn the ground. It has a lot of kicking-based moves and remains a pure fire type throughout its evolution. Scorbunny is strong against Grass, Bug, Ice, Steel types of Pokémon, but weak against Water, Ground, and Rock-type Pokémon. Scorbunny evolves into Raboot and later into Cinderace.

Sobble: the Water-type Sword and Shield starter Pokémon

Pokemon Sword and Shield Sobble
Definitely one of the cuter ones.

Sobble is a water type lizard Pokémon. It’s essentially a chameleon and becomes invisible to hide before attacking with water streams. This Pokémon may look timid at first, but its water type moves are strong against Fire, Ground and Rock-type Pokémon. It falls weak against Electric, Grass, and Dragon-type Pokémon. Sobble later evolves into Drizzile and later into Inteleon. When it evolves, it remains a pure water-type Pokemon.

Who’s the best starter in Pokémon Sword and Shield?

The first gym leader is a grass type, meaning Scorbunny has a good advantage and Grookey is at a disadvantage early on in the game. The second gym is a water type, in which you will get other Pokémon and the third gym has a fire leader. At this point, you will have leveled up enough to fight them.

In popular opinion, Scorbunny is the best starter; it’s fast, learns great moves, and makes life easy for you early in the game. It also fares well against the gym leaders in the later stages of the game.

Pokemon Sword and Shield Cinderace
Pyro Ball is one of the coolest looking moves in the entire game.

Scorbunny’s great versatility in moves is complimented by its athletic looks. The way Pyro Ball looks is also amazing.

It’s harder to get Grookey in a trade as very few pick it. So, if completing your Pokédex in the fastest way possible is your primary aim, go for Grookey.

Not everyone likes Pokémon that wear clothes. Scorbunny can, therefore, put many off. But in terms of overall advantage and competitive play, Scorbunny’s final evolution, Cinderace, is the best of the lot.

By Santiago Vargas

Santiago is a humble gamer from Peru who brings in the much needed breathing space amid all the hardware talk here at Spearblade. We liked his blog so much that we had to onboard him. You'll find Santiago publishing game-related articles, sometimes with a focus on hardware, as that's the bread and butter of Spearblade.