Tips and strategies to master Max Raid Battles in 'Pokémon Sword and Shield'

Putting the "Max" in Dynamax.

Nintendo / The Pokémon Company / Game Freak

Out of the many new mechanics found in Pokémon Sword and Shield, Max Raid Battles stand head and shoulders above the rest as the Galar region’s biggest addition. But what are Max Raid Battles? We’ve put together a rundown of all the essentials you need to know in order to take on these new Gen 8 challenges with confidence.

What are Max Raid Battles?

Max Raid Battles are challenges found in the Wild Area that allow you to confront and capture wild Dynamax or Gigantamax Pokémon. Unlike normal wild Pokémon battles, you’ll need to team up with three other trainers to take down these gargantuan critters.

Nintendo/ Pokemon Company

Additional trainers can found online or locally. Any vacant spots will be filled by NPC-controlled trainers. Using your combined strength, you’ll be able to defeat any Pokémon that stands in your way. After claiming victory, everyone on your team gets a chance to capture the fallen Pokémon. Those captured through this method will have an increased chance to be Gigantmax-capable, or to possess a Hidden Ability.

How to find a Max Raid Battle

Once in the Wild Area, Max Raid Battles are initiated by interacting with Pokémon Dens, which look like grey-tinted honeycombs. If there’s a Raid available, the Pokémon Den will typically emit a red beam of light from its center, shooting up into the sky. These can be seen from across the Wild Area map. Alternatively, in Pokemon Dens containing a rare Pokemon, the beam will be violet in color with clouds circling it.

Pokémon Company/ Nintendo 

After interacting with the den, you’ll see some information about the Pokémon you’re about to face. This includes their typing, a silhouette of the ‘mon, and a star count between one and five to indicate the difficulty of the battle. This screen will also be where you can choose the Pokemon you’d like to use in the Max Raid Battle, by hitting “Switch Pokémon.” This is also where you can opt to connect with your friends if you choose.

Pokémon Company/ Nintendo

If you can’t find any active dens, purchase a Wishing Piece from any Watt Trader in the Wild Area. Each Wishing Piece will run you 3000 Watts. Once you’ve got it, approach an empty den to summon a raid Pokémon. You’ll be asked if you’d like to use a Wishing Piece to call a Pokémon. Say yes, and you’ll have a fight on your hands.

Battling a Raid Pokemon

Max Raid Battles are multiplayer, and the wild Pokémon is Dynamaxed throughout. There’s also a few more key alterations from a typical Pokémon battle. If any Pokémon on your team faints, they’ll spring back to life after a single turn of being knocked out. However, don’t get too comfortable with your Pokémon fainting. Your team will lose if they suffer four total knockouts, or if ten turns pass without defeating your target.

Luckily, players get a few advantages in Max Raid Battles, namely, the ability to Dynamax. One person on your team can access a Dynamax form in each raid. Until somebody decides to Dynamax, the option rotates from player to player each turn. The option to Dynamax is first given to the person hosting the raid, then it goes down the list of players involved.

Do Sword and Shield feature timed events related to Max Raid Battles?

From launch day until January 2020, you will be more likely to encounter a Gigantamax Butterfree in all games. In Pokémon Sword, there will be an increased chance of encountering Gigantamax Dreadnaw. In Pokémon Shield, you will have a higher possibility of meeting Gigantamax Corviknight.

Pokémon Sword and Shield is currently available for purchase.

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