By Aaron Traylor, Contributing Writer
With the recent release of the second part of the Pokémon Sword Expansion Pass and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass, The Crown Tundra, many of the most powerful Legendary Pokémon are now available to catch and train. While these awesome Pokémon aren't permitted in Ranked Battles currently, they're among the strongest and most fun Pokémon to battle with when exploring the many corners of Galar or in a clash against friends.
Instead of examining every Legendary Pokémon in The Crown Tundra and the many ways to use them in battle, we'll focus on big-picture tactics and how to apply them to some of the most powerful Legendary Pokémon. Check out some strategies for making the most of these strong and flexible Pokémon in casual battles.
Dynamax Defense: Dialga and Zygarde
The biggest difference between battling with Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield compared to past adventures is the ability to Dynamax your Pokémon, giving them access to powerful Max Moves and substantially increasing their HP. While any Pokémon can Dynamax, Legendary Pokémon and their high stats benefit from it even more, and those with a Trainer who makes the best use of Dynamax can absolutely dominate a battle.
As a Dragon- and Steel-type Pokémon, Dialga has an interesting combination of types for defense. Only Fighting-type and Ground-type attacks can deal supereffective damage to it. The most common moves of these types deal physical damage, so if you want your Dialga to stick around, you'll want it to have a strong Defense. Luckily, Dialga can fire off Max Steelspike, dealing immense damage with its same-type attack bonus as well as boosting its (and any allies') Defense. After Dialga's Dynamax ends and especially if you had the opportunity to use multiple Max Steelspike attacks, you can follow up with a boosted Body Press, which deals damage based on the Defense stat instead of the Attack stat. The Body Press TR, TR99, can be found after challenging Max Raids featuring Fighting-type Pokémon. Giving Dialga an item such as a Sitrus Berry or Leftovers in combination with its boosted Defense lets it keep fighting for eons.
As Trainers who have challenged Zygarde in Dynamax Adventures will surely know, Zygarde becomes an almost unstoppable force after Dynamaxing, thanks to its Power Construct Ability. If Zygarde has under half of its HP at the end of a turn, it transforms into its Complete Forme, gaining a massive amount of HP—which is then increased again during Dynamax. The Max Moves matching Zygarde's types, Max Quake and Max Wyrmwind, both further increase its survivability by raising its Special Defense and lowering opposing Pokémon's Attack.
In Double Battles, try pairing Complete Forme Zygarde with Tapu Fini, which can make it even more difficult to knock out Zygarde by using supportive moves, like Heal Pulse and Light Screen. Tapu Fini's Misty Surge Ability also complements Zygarde nicely. When Misty Terrain is set, Zygarde can't be affected by status conditions, and if Zygarde is holding a Misty Seed (found in the Slumbering Weald), it gains a Sp. Def boost. Ice-type attacks might be extremely effective against Zygarde, but even the strongest Ice Beam won't make a dent on a well-supported Zygarde in its Complete Forme.
Max Power: Palkia and Yveltal
Palkia finally gains reliable offense when it Dynamaxes. Outside of Dynamaxing, its strongest Water-type attack is Hydro Pump, which connects with its opponents less frequently than Palkia Trainers might prefer. However, when it Dynamaxes, Palkia can unleash torrents of reliable Water-type damage with Max Geyser, which does more damage than Hydro Pump and never misses the opponent. Furthermore, Max Geyser causes it to rain, making each subsequent Max Geyser (or Hydro Pump or any other Water-type attack) deal boosted damage.
Palkia is a speedier Pokémon than many Trainers realize. It can control Speed for your team and become faster than most Pokémon by using Max Airstream. This Max Move can be based on Dual Wingbeat, which can be taught to Palkia by the Move Tutor found in the Master Dojo on the Isle of Armor. To round out the package, Palkia can take advantage of Max Wyrmwind—which can be based on Palkia's signature Spacial Rend move—to drop opposing Pokémon's physical damage. Train your Palkia in Sp. Atk and either Speed or HP for maximum effectiveness.
If you want a Pokémon that can make use of Dynamaxing to crank up the offense, look no further than an Yveltal trained to use special attacks. With every Dark Aura–boosted Max Darkness (which can be based on Yveltal's Dark Pulse attack), you can increase the damage Yveltal deals by dropping the opposing Pokémon's Sp. Def until they wither away. In Double Battles, you can use another Pokémon to deal special damage of its own to follow up after Yveltal reduces opponents' Sp. Def. Yveltal can alternatively increase the Speed of its team by using Max Airstream to put the opponent in an even trickier spot. A Life Orb will give an added punch to Yveltal's Max Moves—pick one up in the Giant's Bed in the Crown Tundra. If Yveltal comes out of Dynamax damaged, it can regain its HP by using its signature move, Oblivion Wing.
Ability Patch Priorities: Lugia and Ho-Oh
The Crown Tundra introduces a new item called the Ability Patch, which can swap a Pokémon's Ability to its Hidden Ability. You can buy the Ability Patch for a hefty amount of Dynite Ore in the Max Lair or be given one for free after completing The Crown Tundra's story. Certain Legendary Pokémon that arrived in Galar with The Crown Tundra have Hidden Abilities that can drastically affect their performance in battle.
Using an Ability Patch on a Lugia with the Pressure Ability will give it the Multiscale Ability, which halves the damage of any attack Lugia takes while its HP is full. Since supereffective moves will have less of a chance to knock Lugia out, try giving Lugia the item Weakness Policy to make opponents regret trying to take your Lugia down. If you'd rather take it slow and steady, Multiscale also means Lugia has more time to boost its own Sp. Atk and Sp. Def using Calm Mind, which can be learned through the Move Reminder feature at the left desk of any Pokémon Center. Furthermore, Multiscale's damage reduction can happen multiple times during a battle, as long as Lugia is at full HP! After Lugia takes some damage, have it use the move Recover to restore up to half its HP and render your opponent's attacks ineffective once again. After you feel comfortable with Lugia's stats, Dynamax it for massive Max Airstream attacks based on Aeroblast to boost Lugia's Speed as well.
If you use an Ability Patch on Lugia's counterpart, Ho-Oh, its Ability will become Regenerator, which will restore up to a third of Ho-Oh's HP every time Ho-Oh switches off the field. Ho-Oh can then use the powerful moves Flare Blitz and Brave Bird, which cause recoil damage, and then switch out, restoring HP with Regenerator and negating the moves' drawbacks. Flare Blitz is TR55 and Brave Bird is TR66, and respectively they can sometimes be found after defeating Fire-type and Flying-type Dynamax Pokémon. Equip Ho-Oh with a Choice Band (which can be purchased at the Battle Tower) to make its physical attacks even stronger. If you'd rather use a Ho-Oh that's a little less self-destructive, give it a Sitrus Berry and teach it its signature move, Sacred Fire, as well as Recover. Ho-Oh can lead its teammates to victory by spreading burns throughout the opposing team with Sacred Fire's massive burn chance, and Ho-Oh can shrug off damage through healing.
Support These Stars: Mewtwo and Groudon
Although Mewtwo calls Cerulean Cave home, it gains one of its most powerful upgrades yet in the Galar region by making full use of the superstrong Expanding Force attack, which can be taught to Mewtwo by the Isle of Armor Move Tutor. Previously in Double Battles, Mewtwo was limited in its ability to target more than one Pokémon at a time, leaving it open to attack by the opponent's second Pokémon. But when used on Psychic Terrain, Expanding Force damages both opponents and becomes more powerful, letting Mewtwo take control of the battle.
Psychic Terrain can be set easily by an Indeedee or Tapu Lele's Psychic Surge Ability. Female Indeedee can also use the move Follow Me to redirect attacks away from Mewtwo so it can stay on the field even longer. You can find Tapu Lele in Dynamax Adventures, and although you can't catch Indeedee with Psychic Surge roaming in the wild, you can find them in Max Raid Battles or switch their Ability using an Ability Patch.
If you're fighting in Single Battles, or want Mewtwo to set up Psychic Terrain for itself, Dynamax Mewtwo can fire off immensely powerful Max Mindstorm attacks. Giving Mewtwo Choice Specs, a Life Orb, or a Twisted Spoon to hold will further amplify its damage output. Round out Mewtwo's coverage with Focus Blast (which turns into Max Knuckle) and Shadow Ball (which turns into Max Phantasm), or let it boost its own Sp. Atk with Calm Mind or Nasty Plot to deal much more damage later.
As for Groudon, it can become an offensive and defensive powerhouse with the right training and help. Groudon's Drought Ability, which causes harsh sunlight, naturally boosts Groudon's protection against its nemesis, Water-type attacks. Pair Groudon with Cherrim, which boosts the Attack and Sp. Def of your Pokémon with its Flower Gift Ability while the weather is sunny. Give your Groudon an Assault Vest to hold to boost its Sp. Def even further. Finally, Dynamax Groudon, use Helping Hand with Cherrim, and fire off some incredibly powerful Max Quake attacks, which will deal crushing damage and boost your Pokémon's Sp. Def yet again. Groudon's high natural Defense stat, the triple Sp. Def boost, and the added HP from Dynamaxing will elevate Groudon's defensive capability past the point where an opponent can easily punch through it.
Crown King Calyrex
Calyrex, the King Pokémon, is native to the Crown Tundra. Although it won't be winning any awards in offensive or defensive power on its own, when it mounts its noble steed Glastrier or Spectrier, it can reach bountiful potential.
Ice Rider Calyrex has nearly unmatched defensive and physical-attack capabilities. Dynamaxing Ice Rider Calyrex so it can use powerful Max Moves—such as Max Hailstorm, Max Quake, and Max Knuckle—can lead to a slow but steady victory that snowballs with every stat boost. Although Ice Rider Calyrex has a low Speed stat, it is a rare Pokémon that can know the move Trick Room and also has enough offensive capability to make great use of it, in a similar vein to Lunala, Stakataka, and Hatterene. While Ice Rider Calyrex works well with a supportive partner that can use Trick Room for it, it's perfectly capable of using Trick Room safely on its own. To teach Calyrex Trick Room, simply pick up TM70 at the Battle Tower. Of course, because many types of attacks deal supereffective damage to Ice-type Pokémon, Ice Rider Calyrex is more effective when holding a Weakness Policy, which can even be activated by a weak attack from a partner Pokémon.
On the other hand, Shadow Rider Calyrex is a paragon of Sp. Atk and Speed. With its signature move, Astral Barrage, it can overwhelm opponents with Ghost-type damage. If you get a chance to have Shadow Rider Calyrex use Nasty Plot—maybe thanks to a partner Pokémon using the move Follow Me or Rage Powder—you can double its already high damage output. And because Shadow Rider Calyrex benefits from Spectrier's Grim Neigh Ability, each Pokémon Shadow Rider Calyrex knocks out will boost its Sp. Atk to new heights.
A Legendary Roundup
The Legendary Pokémon from Unova perform best with a steady stream of offense rather than spending turns setting up by boosting their stats. Reshiram and Zekrom can make use of Max Flare and Max Lightning respectively, which cause moves of the same type to deal even more damage as the battle rages on. If you want to gain a unique edge, consider giving the Pokémon Kyurem a try. Its Ice-type attacks give it an advantage over many other Legendary Pokémon, which are commonly Ground type, Flying type, or Dragon type. By making use of the DNA Splicer key item and a Reshiram or Zekrom to fuse with, Kyurem can transform into its special forms, White Kyurem and Black Kyurem, and gain access to powerful Fire- or Electric-type attacks. With the Assault Vest, which boosts Sp. Def but only allows the use of damaging attacks, Kyurem will be challenged by only the strongest supereffective attacks. Find your own Assault Vest in the Giant's Bed in the Crown Tundra. In Double Battles, if you manage to get Reshiram or White Kyurem on the field alongside Zekrom or Black Kyurem, you can use the moves Fusion Flare and Fusion Bolt to deal a combo attack capable of unmatched damage, which can be further boosted by harsh sunlight or Electric Terrain.
Although the newly discovered Regieleki and Regidrago aren't quite as powerful as some other Legendary Pokémon we've mentioned, they can be supported by fellow Legendary Pokémon in Double Battles to mutually benefit both Pokémon on the field. Kyogre and Regieleki make a surprisingly perfect pair—Kyogre summons rainy weather with its Drizzle Ability, which means Regieleki can unleash powerful Thunder attacks that never miss. In turn, Regieleki can assist Kyogre in firing off powerful rain-boosted Water Spout attacks to both foes by using Electroweb, which deals a small amount of damage and drops both opposing Pokémon's Speed, so they'll have less of a chance to damage Kyogre before it can attack. Consider giving your Kyogre a Choice Scarf or Choice Specs (both found in the Battle Tower) to boost its Speed or the damage from its Water-type special attacks further.
While Regieleki and Kyogre can control the faster end of the Speed spectrum, if slower Pokémon are your style, consider using Giratina and Regidrago. Giratina can use Trick Room and then Dynamax to use Max Phantasm, which drops the opponents' Defense stats. Regidrago can then swoop in with physical Dragon-type damage from Dragon Claw or Outrage, both of which will deal increased damage because of Regidrago's Ability, Dragon's Maw. Who knew Legendary Pokémon found in different regions could work together so closely?
There's a whole world of Legendary strategy available in The Crown Tundra, and although many tricks are mentioned above, more power is waiting to be discovered behind every corner. What Legendary Pokémon will you use in your path to victory in battle?
For more Pokémon video game strategy and analysis, keep checking Pokemon.com/Strategy.