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Pokémon Sword & Shield: Competitive Guide Vol.3 – Breeding

Let’s talk about breeding.

pokemon sword and shield
Image: Nintendo

This is the third in a multiple-volume guide on competitive Pokémon Sword & Shield. In case you missed it, part one covers basic terminology and resources while part two covers effort values, experience, and training.


Pokémon Sword & Shield dropped just a few weeks ago and players have been absolutely eating them up – and rightfully so. With so many new players in the series and so many quality of life changes, I want to dig in on the nuts and bolts of how to make your team The Very Best™. In these guides, you’ll learn everything you need to know.

Welcome to volume three, which will teach you everything you need to know but were too afraid to ask about one of the most intimidating topics in the game: breeding Pokémon!

The breeding fundamentals

pokemon sword and shield breeding

You’ll be seeing this woman a lot. (Image: Jake Vander Ende / KnowTechie)

First thing’s first: What do you need to do in order to breed pokémon?

  1. Get a female of the Pokémon you want.
  2. Look that Pokémon up on one of the databases we’ve talked about and identify one or more of its egg groups.
  3. Get a male from the same egg group. If the Pokémon you’re breeding is in multiple egg groups, it is compatible with Pokémon from all of them.
  4. Drop these two Pokémon off at either the breeder on Route 5 or the breeder in the Wild Area.
  5. Move around until the breeder crosses her arms and puts a hand on her chin. This is your visual indicator that you have an egg waiting!
  6. Pick up the egg, put it in your party, and ride around on your bike until it hatches! Eggs hatch with distance traveled.

BOOM, that’s it! Tutorial done!

Wait, you want more?

Tricks and caveats

pokemon sword and shield map

The cursor is where the Route 5 breeder can be found and the smiley face is where the Wild Area breeder can be found. (Image: Jake Vander Ende / KnowTechie)

The above process is the basic outline for breeding Pokémon, but there are a LOT of stipulations and some caveats.

There’s not really any reasonable flow for these, so here’s a bullet-point list of the basics:

  • Some Pokémon can’t ever breed!
    • Legendaries cannot ever breed.
    • Babies (e.g. Munchlax, Riolu, etc.) cannot ever breed.
    • Nothing in the “Undiscovered” egg group can breed (which usually covers the previous two points).
  • Ditto is your best friend for breeding. Anything capable of breeding can breed with Ditto and the species will always be the non-Ditto Pokémon, even if that Pokémon is male!
    • You can catch Ditto in the grass at the Lake of Outrage. You can’t get there until you’ve beaten 6 gyms and gotten the water travel upgrade and you can’t catch Ditto until you have 7 badges.
  • If either Pokémon you’re breeding holds an Everstone, it will pass on its Nature to offspring with 100% certainty. If both Pokémon hold an Everstone, the universe collapses.
  • If you have a Pokémon with Flame Body in your party, egg hatching time is halved!
    • Coalossal, Chandelure, and Sizzlepede can all have Flame Body, as can their earlier evolutions.
  • Pokémon with the Synchronize ability are super useful for breeding! If your party leader has Synchronize, all wild Pokémon you encounter will have the same nature as that Pokémon. Use this to catch things you want to breed for their nature!
    • My favorite candidate for this is Gallade (or Ralts/Kirlia) because not only can it have Synchronize, it can learn Mean Look, Thunder Wave, and False Swipe, all of which make catching Pokémon much easier. I literally keep an entire box full of Ralts/Gallade with Synchronize and every nature I could possibly want.

After you beat the game, you can challenge Shigeki Morimoto in the Circhester Hotel to a battle. If you beat him, you can get the Oval Charm, which makes eggs more common! Once you have the Oval Charm, its effect is permanent! You don’t need to do anything, equip it, or whatever. It just works.

pokemon sword and shield battle

Make sure to fight Morimoto post-game to get the Oval Charm! Come prepared, because it is not an easy fight. (Image: Jake Vander Ende / KnowTechie)

I’m sure you can already see that this process gets easier with tricks. There are more advanced strategies, too! Buckle up, because this rabbit hole is deep.

Advanced breeding techniques

You know how to breed Pokémon now and you know how to do so faster and more easily than the basics would permit, but how do you get the most out of the process to get exactly what you want? Here are a few of the more common processes you might want to know about.

Breeding for Egg Moves

This one is off-putting to a lot of people, but it’s way easier than you think, I promise! Let’s say you want a Lucario with Vacuum Wave. Vacuum Wave is one of its egg moves, but it can’t learn it through leveling, evolution, move tutor, TR, or TM. How do you get a Lucario with Vacuum Wave?

  1. Identify the Pokémon and egg move you want.
  2. Click on the move on Serebii to see which Pokémon can learn it by leveling up, if possible.
  3. Find one of those Pokémon that can learn it that’s also in the same egg group as your target Pokémon.
  4. Get a male of that Pokémon and get it to learn the move you want.
  5. Breed it with a female of the type you want.

See, while female Pokémon pass on species, male Pokémon pass on moves!

In our above example, we could get a female Lucario and a male Hitmonchan that knows Vacuum Move, then breed them. All offspring Riolu would know Vacuum Move!

To take things a step further, all male Lucario that know Vacuum Wave would also be able to pass it on! So maybe something can learn Vacuum Wave and can breed with Lucario but can’t breed with Hitmonchan. You could do this process twice to pass the move on to the third Pokémon! This is called chain breeding and is necessary in rare cases to get incredibly uncommon moves that might be extremely valuable. For instance, you used to have to chain breed to get a Hyrdeigon with Dark Pulse!

Breeding for IVs

pokemon sword and shield power items

All of these items can be found at the Hammerlocke BP vendor and they are all useful for breeding. (Image: Jake Vander Ende / KnowTechie)

Normally IVs for offspring Pokémon are totally random, but there are several ways to change this. You can even selectively breed for Pokémon that have perfect IVs, which sounds impossible!

There are two types of held items that make this easier:

  • Destiny Knot. If either parent is holding the Destiny Knot, IVs will be inherited from parent Pokémon instead of randomly generated! 5 of the 6 stats will get inherited IVs and the sixth will be randomly generated.
    • The Destiny Knot can be purchased for 10 Battle Points in the Hammerlocke Pokémon Center.
    • It does not matter which parent holds the Destiny Knot.
  • Power Items. If a parent is holding a Power Item, it will guaranteed pass its IV for that stat onto all offspring. For example, if you have a parent with a perfect speed IV, it will pass down that perfect speed IV to all offspring if it holds a Power Anklet.

As an added bonus, for anyone who played Pokémon Let’s Go: Eeevee, that special Eevee you get right before the Wild Area has perfect IVs! Go abuse the Destiny Knot and breed that Eevee with everything in the same egg family!

Also, if you want to check your IVs in-game, you have to beat the fourth tier of the Battle Tower. We’ll talk more about that in the next guide!

Breeding for Shinies

Now, this isn’t technically part of competitive play, but lots of people want to get shiny Pokémon so it’s worth covering it here while we’re on the topic.

There’s a tried-and-true method of breeding for shinies known as the Masuda Method and it still works in Pokémon Sword & Shield. If your breeding pair are from different languages, their chances of producing shiny offspring are dramatically increased! Your chances normally are about 1 in 4,096, but your chances using the Masuda Method are about 1 in 682.

pokemon sword and shield

My game is in English, so this Spanish Nickit counts as a foreign Pokémon for me. You can see the SPA in the corner. (Image: Jake Vander Ende / KnowTechie)

For maximum value and ease, get a Ditto from a language besides yours!

You can increase your shiny chances even further with another interesting item: The Shiny Charm! If you want the shiny charm, you have to complete your Pokédex, which is no easy feat. Once you’ve done that, go to the Circhester Hotel and find the room where there’s a man dressed as a doctor. Talk to him and the Shiny Charm is yours! Like the Oval Charm, once you have it it just works passively, forever.

Putting it all together

Alright, let’s apply everything we’ve learned. Ready? This is gonna get wild.

The Goal: A Shiny Lucario with Vacuum Wave, a Timid nature, and perfect IVs.

shiney lucario

Image: JBPokestore

Setup:

  1. Before we start, we’ll make sure we have a Destiny Knot and an Everstone. These are vital.
  2. We’ll trade for a foreign Ditto. This might take some time, but you only need one.
  3. We’ll get any Pokémon with Flame Body. This saves so much time.
  4. Optionally, we can complete our Pokédex to get the Shiny Charm and we can fight Morimoto for the Oval Charm. Neither is strictly necessary, but both help.

The Process:

  1. We’ll start by picking up that perfect Eevee from playing Pokémon Let’s Go: Eevee (and if we don’t have one, we can try trading for one from a friend who does and has bred more). Make sure it’s male. If it isn’t, breed it until you get a male with perfect IVs (don’t forget to use a Destiny Knot).
  2. Next, we’ll catch or trade for Ralts.
  3. We can catch or breed more Ralts, but we need to do one of those until we get one with both Synchronize and a Timid nature.
  4. Next, we’ll hunt (or trade) for Riolu. Make sure Timid Ralts with Synchronize is the party leader (note: It can be fainted and you will still get the effects of Synchronize).
  5. If you got a female Riolu, skip this step. If you didn’t, evolve your Riolu until it’s Lucario, then breed it until you get a female. Don’t forget to have it hold an Everstone so it passes on Timid!
  6. Evolve that female, Timid Riolu into Lucario. Remember that Riolu is a baby and therefore can’t breed.
  7. We’ll then take female Lucario and give it an Everstone, perfect IV male Eevee and give it a Destiny Knot, and drop them both off at the breeder.
  8. Breed until you get a female Riolu with perfect IVs (or just the five IVs you care about)! This will be faster than you think, since you’re starting with one Pokémon that already has perfect IVs. You can take female Riolus with better IVs than you started with, evolve them into Lucario, and trade places with your original to speed things up, but I know that’s a hassle and it’s optional.
  9. Now that you have a female, timid Riolu with perfect IVs, evolve it into Lucario.
  10. Go catch or trade for male Hitmonchan, since that’s how we’re going to get Vacuum Wave. You can also evolve a Tyrogue that has higher defense than attack. It does not matter what nature Hitmonchan has.
  11. Level up Hitmonchan until it has Vacuum Wave.
  12. Give your female, timid Lucario with perfect IVs the Everstone, give your male Hitmonchan with Vacuum Wave the Destiny Knot, and drop them off at a breeder.
  13. Breed until you get a male Riolu with perfect IVs and Vacuum Wave.
  14. Evolve male Riolu with timid nature, perfect IVs and Vacuum Wave into Lucario.
  15. Give your new Lucario the Everstone, give your foreign Ditto the Destiny Knot, and drop them off at a breeder.
  16. Breed until you get a shiny Lucario with timid nature, perfect IVs, and Vacuum Wave! THIS IS THE LONGEST STEP.

All of that sounds terrible

pokemon sword and shield pikachu

Image: Nintendo

It is! Why would you do this to yourself?

I have a better idea: Just get the Pokémon you want with the moves you want. We can modify its nature, ability, and IVs to be whatever you want. Not only that, but it isn’t even cheating!

Here’s your homework assignment:

Pick a Pokémon you want that learns an ability you want, but only as an egg move! Figure out a way to breed for that and do it. You could go for the example I used or pick one of your own. Don’t worry about abilities, nature, IVs, or shiny unless you really want to! Just get used to the process for now, because it’s about to get a lot easier.

Interested in all of those cool tricks? Come back for volume four of the Competitive Guide where we’ll be covering the Battle Tower and all of the great things you can do once you start earning more Battle Points!

How is your training going? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Jake is a writer and game designer in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He loves action, exploration, building, filling bars, and turning numbers into bigger numbers. Someday he'll release a video game.

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