Choose your Pokemon: Galar Starters


Which Starter Pokemon should you pick in Pokemon Sword and Shield?

Your first Pokemon will likely influence your playstyle throughout the game – but which one should you pick? Will you run with the Sobble Squad or Grookey Gang? I’ve got a few tips to help you choose the Pokemon that’s right for you in your quest to become the Galarian Champion.

This analysis is subject to change pending official Pokemon events. It is likely that special event versions of the Sword and Shield starter Pokemon will be released with hidden abilities and new moves.

Grookey line: Grookey, Thwackey, Rillaboom


Rillaboom Base Stats:

HP 100

Attack 125

Defense 90

Sp. Atk 60

Sp. Def 70

Speed 85

Base Stat Total: 530


Overgrow – Grass-type moves are powered up by 50% when this Pokemon is at 1/3 health or lower

Grassy Surge (currently unavailable) – When this Pokemon enters battle, it summons Grassy Terrain. Grassy Terrain restores 1/16th of the Pokemon’s max HP each turn if they are on the ground (i.e. not Flying type or Levitating). The moves Magnitude, Earthquake, and Dig deal half damage while Grassy Terrain is in effect.


Good physical movepool

Good overall defenses: 100 HP/90 Def/70 Sp. Def

Grassy Surge will provide plenty of utility when it is released and mitigates some recoil damage from Wood Hammer


Common weaknesses in Fire, Flying, and Ice

No real way to threaten Flying types like Corviknight, Togekiss, or Hawlucha

Special Attack is nonexistent

Speed is pretty average


Moves to consider:

Wood Hammer, Drum Beating, Superpower, Knock Off, U-Turn, Earthquake, Darkest Lariat, Bulk Up, Brick Break, Drain Punch, Hammer Arm, High Horsepower, Swords Dance



I would suggest running Rillaboom as a physical attacker, but be advised that there are a lot of fast special attackers that can ruin your day. Despite obviously having the dexterity to play the drums, it’s a real shame that Rillaboom doesn’t have access to moves like Thunderpunch or Poison Jab to at least threaten Flying or Fairy types. Rillaboom also unfortunately doesn’t have any Rock-type moves in its wheelhouse, further limiting coverage options. As someone who owns Harambe merchandise, I’m definitely a fan of this green gorilla. However, I would say hold off on using Rillaboom seriously until the hidden ability is released. Grass-type coverage is pretty easy to come by.

Alternatives: Gyarados with Power Whip, Ferrothorn, Dhelmise, Abomasnow, Flapple, Appletun, Venusaur (when available)

Scorbunny line: Scorbunny, Raboot, Cinderace


Cinderace Base Stats:

HP 80

Attack 116

Defense 75

Sp. Atk 65

Sp. Def 75

Speed 119

Base Stat Total: 530


Blaze – Fire-type moves are powered up by 50% when this Pokemon is at 1/3 health or lower

Libero (currently unavailable) – When this Pokemon changes its type to the type of the move it is about to use.


Amazing Attack and Speed

Signature moves (Pyro Ball and Court Change) are great



Unusable Special Attack

Very common weaknesses (Water, Rock, Ground)


Moves to consider: Court Change, Pyro Ball, High Jump Kick, Flare Blitz, Sucker Punch, Zen Headbutt, Gunk Shot, U-Turn, Bounce, Bulk Up, Iron Head, Fire Punch



Cinderace will probably become Greninja 2.0 once its Hidden Ability is released. As of now, it’s a fast physical attacking starter Pokemon with a more shallow movepool. You can use moves like Bounce or Gunk Shot for coverage when Dynamaxed, but they aren’t terribly reliable otherwise. Court Change can spectacularly screw over your opponents by stealing their entry hazards and screens. Cinderace can buff itself with Max Knuckle or Bulk Up, but it would be better off pivoting out with U-Turn before eating a super effective attack.

Alternatives: Rotom-H, Galarian Darmanitan, Centiskorch, Charizard, Chandelure, Salazzle, Manectric with Flamethrower, Boltund

Sobble Line: Sobble, Drizzile, Inteleon


Inteleon Base Stats:

HP 70

Attack 85

Defense 65

Sp. Atk 125

Sp. Def 65

Speed 120

Base Stat Total: 530


Torrent – Water-type moves are powered up by 50% when this Pokemon is at 1/3 health or lower

Sniper (currently unavailable) – This Pokemon’s critical hits deal an extra 50% damage



Very high Special Attack and Speed



Both abilities are average at best


Moves to consider:

Air Slash, Aqua Jet, Blizzard, Ice Beam, Dark Pulse, Hydro Pump, Scald, Shadow Ball, Sucker Punch, Surf, Swords Dance, Snipe Shot, U-Turn, Focus Energy



Once Sniper Inteleon is available, you’ll be able to fish for crits with a Scope Lens + Focus Energy moveset. In the meantime, you have a very fast and hard hitting lizard…and that’s about it. Inteleon has a usable movepool but no way to boost its Special Attack, and it lacks any really amazing coverage options. Be careful of priority moves or entry hazards that can take out your sniper gecko before it gets a shot off!

Alternatives: Gyarados, Cloyster, Dracovish, Lapras, Lanturn, Rotom-W, Pelipper, Barraskewda Seismitoad, Blastoise (when available)


I don’t like any of these!

Not a fan of the Galar region’s starters? You’re not alone! I actually benched my Rillaboom after the second gym. If you don’t care for the alternatives that I’ve listed, try using some of the recommendations that the Pokedex lists based on your area.


Looking for more Pokemon content? Check out our five essential tips for any player starting out in Pokemon Sword & Shield.


About fioyl

Independent researcher, former mensan, dog dad, social worker. Content writer for @GottaBeLegend and @aggregatorrev

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