By Contributing Writer Gabby Snyder
With the release of the second part of the Pokémon Sword Expansion Pass and Pokémon Shield Expansion Pass, The Crown Tundra, Legendary Pokémon from around the world of Pokémon have arrived in Galar! They join newly discovered Legendary Pokémon, broadly expanding the pool of powerful Pokémon permitted for tournaments and Ranked Battles. While not all Legendary Pokémon are allowed to take part in Ranked Battle Series 7, the ones that are allowed are certainly threats that will shake the metagame to its core. If you're curious about some of the extremely powerful Pokémon that aren't permitted in typical battles, definitely check out Aaron Traylor's Guide to Training Legendary Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
Here is a survey of some Legendary Pokémon that could make a massive difference in upcoming battles—complete with move sets, items, and partners that will help make these Pokémon truly shine! We'll start with two incredible Legendary Pokémon that have galloped into Galar, champing at the bit to make their mark in battle.
As a pure Ice-type Pokémon, Glastrier has delivered something many Trainers have long awaited—a Pokémon that's strong, slow, and able to withstand hits. It's one of the new Legendary Pokémon that Trainers can encounter in the Crown Tundra—provided they know how to grow Iceroot Carrots, that is.
Glastrier's minimal base Speed and decent bulk make it the perfect candidate for a Trick Room strategy. Give Glastrier a Weakness Policy and deploy it alongside a Pokémon well suited for using Trick Room, like Dusclops. Dusclops can also activate that Weakness Policy by attacking Glastrier with Brick Break. Glastrier can then boost its Attack further via its signature Ability, Chilling Neigh, which will increase Glastrier's Attack stat by one stage for every Pokémon Glastrier knocks out.
To make the most of its three Dynamax turns, Glastrier can use Max Steelspike (from Heavy Slam or Smart Strike) or Max Quake (from High Horsepower) to boost its defenses, or it can use Max Knuckle (from Close Combat) to boost its Attack even more—though with Chilling Neigh, that might be too much. Icicle Crash is the Ice-type move of choice if you're looking for that same-type attack bonus; while it's not 100 percent accurate, it's going to be doing a ton of damage when it becomes Max Hailstorm while Glastrier's Attack is boosted at least twice.
The Ghost-type counterpart to Glastrier, Spectrier prefers Shaderoot Carrots and is more oriented toward Special Attack. It's also really fast! It can match the lightning speeds of Jolteon, Crobat, and Tapu Koko when it's trained in Speed and has a Nature that boosts the stat.
Because of its Speed, Spectrier is best used as a fast disruptor for opposing strategies, and it has a lot of options for useful moves. You can teach it Snarl or Will-O-Wisp if your team struggles with taking too much damage. Spectrier can also learn Bulldoze, which can be paired with a Flying-type Pokémon or a Pokémon with the Levitate Ability, like Cresselia, as a form of Speed control. Nasty Plot can also be an option if you're able to pair Spectrier with a good redirection Pokémon, like Clefairy or Togekiss, which can also help cover Spectrier's Dark-type weakness.
Giving Spectrier a Focus Sash will allow it to invest fully in its attacks and Speed without having to worry about how much damage it's taking, as it will always be able to withstand one hit. But since Ghost-type Pokémon are weak only to Ghost-type or Dark-type attacks, you might want to consider having it hold a Kasib or Colbur Berry instead to weaken the strength of those attack types. This allows you to give the Focus Sash to another Pokémon on your team. (In Ranked Battles and most tournaments, no two Pokémon on your team can hold the same held item.)
Dynamaxing may be better used on a different Pokémon than Spectrier. Max Phantasm can pair well with other physical attackers on your team, but given how relatively frail Spectrier is and its lack of other interesting moves to use as Max Moves, you won't get much out of Dynamaxing the Pokémon.
The trio of massive Legendary Pokémon from Hoenn has expanded into a quintuplet with the launch of The Crown Tundra and its addition of Regieleki and Regidrago. Like their counterparts, each of these Pokémon has at least one massive stat. For Regieleki, this stat is Speed—Regieleki's Speed is nearly off the charts, making it even faster than a Speed Forme Deoxys! This makes the Electric-type Pokémon an easy option to add to your team. The Dragon-type Regidrago is no slouch in battle either, but Regieleki can add a spark like few other Pokémon can.
What can Regieleki do with this incredible Speed? It won't shock you to learn that this Pokémon gets access to some of the best Electric-type moves the game has to offer. Combine Regieleki's move set with its signature Transistor Ability, which boosts Electric-type moves by 50 percent, and you truly have a force to be reckoned with.
Given Regieleki's insanely high Speed, this is another Pokémon best suited to skip on Dynamaxing and focus instead on disrupting your opponent's overall strategy from the beginning. Electroweb is a great move to do that with, as it can hit multiple opponent Pokémon and lower their Speed by one stage each, making it easier for Regieleki's partner to outspeed them when attacking. Regieleki's signature Thunder Cage attack can also be useful for preventing opposing Pokémon from switching out, and the move also deals residual damage at the end of each turn for four to five turns.
If serious power is your goal, pair Regieleki with a Pokémon that can use Max Lightning to set up Electric Terrain. Incarnate Forme Thundurus or Zapdos (the Electric-type one usually seen outside Galar) are both great candidates. You could also use a Pokémon with the Electric Surge Ability, like Tapu Koko. With Electric Terrain in place, a Rising Voltage attack from Regieleki will cause truly devastating damage. To teach Regieleki this powerful move, talk to the Move Tutor found in the Master Dojo on the Isle of Armor.
Landorus (Therian Forme)
A plethora of previously discovered Legendary Pokémon have found their way to Galar, largely thanks to Dynamax Adventures. Included is arguably one of the most popular Legendary Pokémon of all time in the Pokémon Video Game Championship Series: Therian Forme Landorus—and it is still a force to be reckoned with. As in the past, many Trainers can use its relatively high Attack, good Speed, and Intimidate Ability to disrupt their opponents' strategies.
Therian Forme Landorus has traditionally run a move set of Earthquake, Rock Slide, Superpower, and U-Turn while holding a Choice Scarf, Life Orb, or Assault Vest depending on if its Trainer wanted to emphasize Speed, power, or Sp. Def. Why mess with success? This setup is still incredibly potent. With the addition of Dynamaxing and Max Moves, Therian Forme Landorus can also consider learning Fly to utilize Max Airstream to help its partners get a Speed boost!
A quick note about Landorus and its fellow trio members, Thundurus and Tornadus: the ones you can catch in Dynamax Adventures are in Incarnate Forme. In order to transform them into Therian Forme, you'll need the Reveal Glass. Once you catch any of these Pokémon, simply travel to the man running the bargain stall in Stow-on-Side, and you'll find exactly what you need.
Thundurus (Incarnate Forme)
Unlike its cohort Landorus, Thundurus in its Incarnate Forme has many entirely new strategies that you can run in Galar. In the past, Thundurus was primarily used for its Prankster Ability, which can make moves like Swagger, Taunt, and Thunder Wave hit before any of Thundurus's opponents make a move. With the Ability Patch item introduced in The Crown Tundra, it is now easy to give Thundurus its Hidden Ability, Defiant, which will boost Thundurus's Attack stat by two stages when one of its stats is lowered.
While Thundurus has gained access to Rising Voltage thanks to the Isle of Armor Move Tutor, most players will instead choose to run Thundurus as a physical attacker. The Defiant Ability is easy to activate when things like Icy Wind, the Intimidate Ability, Electroweb, and Max Moves are commonly dropping the stats of Pokémon on the field.
Dynamaxing Thundurus will further add to its longevity as well as allow it to use Max Lightning to set Electric Terrain for a partner Pokémon like Regieleki. Wild Charge (TR86) is a great move for this, as it becomes an attack with a base power of 130 and no recoil damage when Thundurus is Dynamaxed. You can find TR86 in some Max Raid Battles or by talking to the Watt Traders found throughout the Wild Area.
Other physical moves that stand out on Thundurus include Fly, which becomes Max Airstream when Thundurus is Dynamaxed; Superpower for Max Knuckle Attack boosts; and Lash Out to further amplify Thundurus's damage output on the turn one of its stats are reduced. Thundurus is also fast enough to utilize moves like Taunt or Thunder Wave even without the Prankster boost, and like many Pokémon, Thundurus can make good use of Protect to give its partner the opportunity to knock out opposing threats before they knock out Thundurus.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways to send Thundurus into battle. Experiment and find which one best suits your team's needs and play style.
It'll take a bit of work before you can find the Ultra Beasts in Crown Tundra, but it's definitely worth the effort. Each of these Ultra Beasts have incredible power and amazing utility thanks in part to the Beast Boost Ability, which will increase the power of an Ultra Beast's highest stat by one stage every time that Ultra Beast knocks out an opposing Pokémon. While all these Ultra Beasts have seen competitive play in the past, some early favorites in the Series 7 format are Kartana, Pheromosa, and Stakataka.
Kartana is the fastest of these three and has a lot of flexibility due to its wide move pool and Speed. It is a perfect candidate for Dynamaxing, as it can utilize Max Airstream (from Aerial Ace) for Speed control with ease. It can set up Grassy Terrain to heal itself gradually thanks to Max Overgrowth (from Leaf Blade). It can also use Max Knuckle (from Sacred Sword) for Attack boosts, get Defense boosts with Max Steelspike (from Smart Strike), drop opponents' Sp. Atk via Max Flutterby (from X-Scissor), or lower opponents' Sp. Def via Max Darkness (from Night Slash). That's a lot of options, so go with the ones that fit your team.
Kartana's typing provides a lot of resistances, and being a Grass and Steel type means it takes supereffective damage only from Fire-type and Fighting-type attacks. As a result, Kartana can make good use of the Berries that are eaten in a pinch to restore a third of a Pokémon's HP, like Figy or Iapapa Berries. It also does well holding an Assault Vest—but know that the added Sp. Def will not make a difference when it comes to Kartana's devastating Fire-type weakness.
Stakataka is another favorite of the returning Ultra Beasts. It's most effective when Trick Room is on the field, thanks to Stakataka's excruciatingly slow Speed and its wall-like presence, complete with outstanding Defense. Many slower Pokémon need to be paired with a separate Trick Room user in order to be effective, but with the right support, Stakataka is a fine Trick Room setter on its own. Just make sure to pair it with a Pokémon that knows Fake Out or that can redirect attacks to ensure Stakataka gets its turn.
A new strategy available to Stakataka is centered around Body Press and Iron Defense, which have great synergy together. Body Press bases its damage output on the user's Defense stat rather than its Attack, and Iron Defense will boost the user's Defense by two stages. Using the two moves together provides Stakataka with enough defensive prowess to remain on the field while it knocks out opposing Pokémon with Body Press. The Isle of Armor Move Tutor also gives Stakataka access to Steel Roller, which is a fantastic attack choice if your team struggles against strategies that rely on terrain being present. But use it wisely—this move will fail if no terrain is in play!
In the past, Stakataka would usually be holding a Shuca Berry to reduce the Ground-type damage it takes. Another item Trainers should now consider giving Stakataka is the Safety Goggles, in order to avoid having Stakataka put to sleep by Amoonguss's Spore. You should also ensure your team has a game plan to handle opposing Water-type, Fighting-type, and Ground-type Pokémon, all commonly found when attempting to counter Trick Room–centric teams.
Pheromosa wasn't the most popular Ultra Beast in previous formats, but it arguably has the most to gain from the Isle of Armor Move Tutor. The Pokémon can learn three moves this way: Coaching, which boosts allies' Attack and Defense; Skitter Smack, which deals damage and lowers the target's Sp. Atk; and Triple Axel, an Ice-type move that will hit the target up to three times in a row.
Like other fast and frail Pokémon, Pheromosa is best when holding something like a Focus Sash to ensure it will be around for at least two turns, though it can also take advantage of the damage boosting properties of a Choice Band or Life Orb.
Another interesting idea for Pheromosa is to use Speed Swap to trade its Speed with that of a partner. Thanks to the fact that Speed changes are applied dynamically as a turn progresses, Pheromosa trading Speed with its partner ensures that the partner will be next to move. This can make a huge difference when that partner is naturally slower, as would be the case with Galarian Slowking, Hatterene, or Glastrier. Once its Speed is swapped, Pheromosa can switch out, then return to the field later to take advantage of its own high Speed once more. It's an interesting strategy that forces your opponent to adapt by prioritizing their own Speed control if they weren't expecting a sluggish Pokémon becoming so fast!
While all the Galarian forms of the Legendary Pokémon trio from the Kanto region are interesting, Galarian Moltres soars higher than the rest due to its Berserk Ability. Once exclusive to Drampa, Berserk will raise the Pokémon's Sp. Atk by one stage every time its HP drops below 50 percent. To best take advantage of this Ability, pair Galarian Moltres with a Pokémon like Comfey with Floral Healing and Triage or Clefairy with Friend Guard and Life Dew to ensure that Galarian Moltres's HP is continually dropping below and rising above the halfway mark.
Galarian Moltres's signature attack is Fiery Wrath, a Dark-type move that hits multiple targets and may cause them to flinch. While Fiery Wrath's chance of making the opponent flinch is lower than that of Rock Slide—the more common move for this kind of strategy—the higher accuracy and base power of Fiery Wrath help make up for that. Pair Fiery Wrath with Nasty Plot to kickstart Galarian Moltres's Sp. Atk stat by increasing it by two stages. Snarl or Taunt can disrupt opponents' strategies, and Air Slash or Hurricane can swoop in with serious Flying-type damage.
The one downside to Galarian Moltres, or any of this trio, is the strong presence of Electric-type and Rock-type moves on many competitive teams—particularly from Tyranitar, Thundurus, Therian Forme Landorus, and Regieleki. For any of the Galarian Flying-type Legendary Pokémon to succeed, they'll need to be on a team that can support them properly in the face of these threats. If a Pokémon with Lightning Rod fits your strategy, that's a decent solution. Otherwise, focus on removing those threatening Pokémon from the field before Galarian Articuno, Zapdos, or Moltres make their entrance.
The most notable trait of the Alolan guardian deities is their ability to set terrain when sent out onto the field, and many strategies have emerged that revolve around using that terrain to your advantage. Tapu Fini has always been a more supportive choice when compared to Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, and Tapu Bulu, largely due to how its Misty Terrain was primarily used to block status moves and weaken Dragon-type attacks for any Pokémon making contact with the ground.
While Misty Terrain is still utilized the same way, Tapu Fini itself is able to play in a much more offensive fashion due to the absence of Mega-Evolved Pokémon and Z-Moves in the Galar region. Tapu Fini's Trainer largely no longer has to worry about it being knocked out in one hit, and Tapu Fini can use the extra time on the field to boost its Sp. Atk and Sp. Def with Calm Mind.
Dazzling Gleam, Moonblast, Muddy Water, and Scald are all great attacking-move choices for Tapu Fini. Ice Beam or Icy Wind will give Tapu Fini great type coverage as well as a possible mode of Speed control if that's otherwise hard to fit in on your team. Primarina's success in Series 6 with a similar strategy and move set indicates that Tapu Fini is definitely a Pokémon to keep your eyes on as the Series 7 metagame evolves, as you will most likely find Tapu Fini near the top of the list of contenders.
While the Legendary Pokémon that have been discussed here stand out early as the probable top contenders, there's still a lot of opportunity for other Pokémon to rise to the challenge. The sheer number of Pokémon—Legendary and otherwise—should make upcoming battles a sight to behold. Definitely keep checking Pokemon.com/Strategy for continued analysis of competitive Pokémon video game action.