One of the most exciting new features in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield is the Max Raid Battle format that takes place in Galar's Wild Area. Fighting battles against humongous Pokémon is pretty cool on its own, and it's also a great way to get rare Pokémon and valuable items. Plus, it's one of the few times you get to team up with your friends and work together to defeat an opponent instead of battling against each other!
If you're looking for some tips on how to make the most of Max Raid Battles, or if you're wondering why you should bother with them at all, we've got the scoop. Learn what you can get from Max Raid Battles, how to trigger new ones, tips for defeating Dynamax Pokémon, and even how to encounter rare Pokémon (like Ditto) by using Wishing Pieces.
Why Max Raid Battles?
If you're looking for a reason to engage in Max Raid Battles beyond having fun with your friends (or with game-controlled Trainers, like Martin and that darn Solrock that won't stop using Cosmic Power), there are quite a few. Max Raid Battles are a great way to encounter Pokémon that very rarely appear in the wild, and Pokémon that otherwise only appear under certain weather conditions—like Lucario—may also appear.
But even if you recognize the silhouette of a Max Raid Battle opponent and realize you already have it registered in your Pokédex, think twice before declining to battle.
Pokémon you capture in Max Raid Battles are the only Pokémon in Galar that may have their Hidden Abilities. They're also guaranteed to have at least one of their individual strengths at its maximum, and in higher-level Max Raid Battles, at least three or four of the Pokémon's individual strengths will be maxed. Typically, these Pokémon are pretty high level compared to other wild Pokémon, too. Whether you're looking to expand your roster for matches against other players or just to add power to your team, Max Raid Battles are an incredible shortcut.
You'll also earn a treasure trove of items, regardless whether you capture the Pokémon. This is the only way to get Dynamax Candies, which boost your Pokémon's Dynamax Level and increase the amount of HP they gain by Dynamaxing or Gigantamaxing. Max Raid Battles are also a great source of Exp. Candies, Rare Candies, TRs, and high-value items, like Big Pearls and Big Nuggets. If you're looking to level up your Pokémon quickly, the rewards from defeating Max Raid Battles are absolutely the fastest way to do so.
Finding Max Raid Battles
Each day, several Pokémon Dens will have pillars of light emanating from them, indicating that they house a Dynamax Pokémon ready to be challenged in a Max Raid Battle. You'll be able to see its silhouette and type when you interact with the den.
Each den pulls from its own pool of Pokémon that may appear within, typically consisting of Pokémon sharing a common type. It's random which dens activate each day, but you can activate any den yourself by using a Wishing Piece. These handy items can sometimes be found around the Wild Area, but they're most readily available for purchase at a relatively reasonable 3,000 Watts from Rotom Rallyists throughout the Wild Area.
You'll most frequently see dens with weaker, red pillars of light, but you'll also often find dens that have stronger, purple beams instead, like in the image above. Such encounters use a second pool of rarer Pokémon that may also appear in the den. You'll find you won't normally have more than one such den active at a time, so be sure to defeat the Dynamax Pokémon inside before you start using Wishing Pieces on other dens. These Pokémon also tend to give better rewards, but they'll often be more difficult to defeat and catch, too. Pokémon with the Gigantamax Factor will appear only in such dens unless an event is going on, so don't miss your chance to catch them when they're more easily available!
If you don't want to wait until the start of a new day to get a new batch of active dens, you can also clear each of the Pokémon Dens emitting pillars of light in the Wild Area, which will cause a new set of Max Raid Battles to appear. You may find that you sometimes also trigger this phenomenon when helping your friends in Max Raid Battles.
Selecting Pokémon for Max Raid Battles
Regardless of your skill at playing Who's That Pokémon? with a Dynamax Pokémon's silhouette, the game will tell you what type or types the opposing Pokémon is, which can help you when selecting your Pokémon. You can only use one of your own Pokémon in each Max Raid Battle. If it gets knocked out, you'll be able to cheer for your team for a turn before your Pokémon returns to the action. Your cheering will have one of several effects, like restoring your teammates' HP, reducing the Dynamax Pokemon's barrier, or—in seemingly all the most crucial moments—doing nothing at all.
You and your Pokémon will team up with three other Trainers. You can allow anyone to join the fight, you can set a Link Code so only your friends can join, or you can give up on human teammates altogether and try your luck with game-controlled Trainers. Only one Trainer will be able to Dynamax their Pokémon each battle. The player hosting the raid is the only one who may Dynamax their Pokémon on the first turn; if they choose not to, the opportunity to Dynamax will rotate through the team until the host has the option to do so again on turn five.
If you go with game-controlled teammates, we strongly suggest valuing defense over offense with your own Pokémon choice. You of course want a partner that can dish out some damage, but simply avoiding being knocked out so that you can attack each turn can be the best strategy. Game-controlled Trainers tend to make some strange choices, and there'll typically be some fainting on your side, so it's important to keep the battle moving forward. Your team will lose if four Pokémon on your side are knocked out. Don't add to that count.
Max Raid Battle Rules
Fighting against Dynamax Pokémon in Max Raid Battles can be quite tricky, as the rules your team operates under are a little different from the rules Dynamax Pokémon use. In addition to your side losing when four Pokémon have been knocked out (even if it's the same Pokémon four times, Martin), there are additional factors to keep in mind.
At least once during the battle, the opposing Dynamax Pokémon will likely raise a barrier that vastly reduces the damage it takes while also negating the effect of status moves, such as Toxic or Will-O-Wisp. Unless your team is very coordinated, this usually means it's better not to use such moves at all in order to avoid wasting turns. Dynamax Pokémon in 4- to 5-star Max Raid Battles will typically raise their barrier twice at specific HP thresholds, with more powerful and more defensively oriented Dynamax Pokémon producing barriers with more segments.
Any damaging attack from a regularly sized Pokémon will reduce the shield by one segment, whether it's Tackle from a Magikarp or a supereffective attack from Zacian. There are a few non-damaging attacks that can have this effect too! Any damaging attack from a Dynamax Pokémon will decrease the barrier by two segments instead. When the barrier breaks, it will harshly reduce the foe's Defense and Sp. Def and deal a little damage, so you're much better off having your Dynamax Pokémon help break the barrier when possible. It's often a good idea to set this up by having the second player Dynamax (when battling with friends) instead of having the host immediately Dynamax on the first turn. Trainers controlled by the game will never Dynamax, so you should always Dynamax on turn one when you're the lone human Trainer of the bunch.
The opposing Dynamax Pokémon won't just stand there while you break its barrier, of course. It will use multiple moves each turn. It'll mostly use Max Moves—or G-Max Moves—several times but may also weave in some of their regular moves. It's also able to nullify all the stat changes and Abilities of your team's Pokémon, so it's best not to rely too much on strategies that involve increasing your own stats or relying on Abilities. Dynamax Pokémon in 4- to 5-star Max Raid Battles can dish out some serious damage with numerous Max Moves flying around, so make sure to stay focused on whittling down their barrier.
Finding Specific Opponents
While the Dynamax Pokémon that appear in Pokémon Dens at the beginning of a day are random, you can take fate into your own hands to an extent by using Wishing Pieces. Take note of which Pokémon you see in which dens. If you're ever looking for one of those Pokémon again, you can always try to get another shot at it by using Wishing Pieces at the same den you first saw it at.
Many Trainers use their Wishing Pieces repeatedly on specific Pokémon Dens to find valuable Pokémon. For instance, competition-minded Trainers value Ditto with high individual strengths because they can be used to help hatch most species of Pokémon at the Pokémon Nursery. Ditto is a particularly special case because it's the only Pokémon that will appear when the stronger, purple light appears in the den just north of the Wild Area's Pokémon Nursery (found as you enter the Stony Wilderness from Bridge Field). This means you'll definitely find one if you're persistent. Check out the image above if you don't know the one.
Good luck finding powerful Dynamax Pokémon, Trainers! If you're ever unsure what to do in a Max Raid Battle, just attack. Don't be like Martin and his Solrock... And don't forget to check back to Pokemon.com/Strategy for more tips about Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield and other Pokémon games.
Remember that you can find valuable tips like these and much more in Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield: The Official Galar Region Strategy Guide, available now in book stores and soon in the Pokémon Center.