Massively on the Go: Tips on beating Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s 5-star+ raids

    
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Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is quite playable as a solo experience aside from some visual bugs. However, online play is buggy, to the point that even Nintendo apologized (take note, Niantic). It’s a problem since the game’s technically inched forward in the multiplayer department, but bugs are preventing people from enjoying it; the bugs range from players simply not being able to see each other in the game world to Tera Raids skipping player turns or showing the wrong HP.

Those last few bugs came to a head as Nintendo released the first round of the special Mightest Mark Charizard raids. These raids last just a few days and are extremely difficult even without the bugs. Charizard is really putting people to the test, and they’re largely failing because the game never actually prepares players for a challenge. Those who pass may not come back, as even though the non-pokemon awards are quite generous, you can have but one Mighty Charizard per save file. Clearly people need some tips as the talent pool dilutes.

Game8 has a detailed guide about getting to the point of the game that lets you find 6-star raids (though Charizard and other big-boss types in the future are 7-star), but sometimes you just need something quick and dirty, and that’s what I’m here for, especially if you missed out on the first round and want to prepare for Mighty ‘Zard’s return December 15th through 18th. This guide, however, assumes you at least know that you need to beat the three main storylines, Elite 4, and the second round of gym leaders, and then win the school tournament before you can spawn your own Mighty ‘Zards and other future 7-star raids or see it on the Poke Portal menu. Otherwise, you’ll need a code from a friend to access it.

Have a wide variety of pokemon types leveled up

It should go without saying, but don’t go into these things half-cocked. Naturally, you could go the breeding route, but I’m trying to save you some time and effort here. An easy way to do this is to go through raids, but not the hardest ones first! It’s like in any MMO: You don’t just hit the level cap and immediately go to raiding, especially since bugs can make it so even your craftiest build for preventing fainting (which, as in the Monster Hunter series, leads everyone a step closer to failure) can fail.

Raids aren’t so bad, though. You can get a lot of experience point-granting candy from 4-star raids, which are still pretty easy. Run those not only for XP boosting (and money, and stat boosters, and all the other great loot), but pokemon with better stats, hidden abilities, and maybe higher levels than what you currently have. That’ll even help you save some of your candy!

I recommend getting your team to at least level 90 before tackling 6-star raids. By the time you read this, level 100 will probably be needed for 7-star raids, as I expect the high-level players with good ‘mon to have largely moved on. Check this team planner and make sure you’ve got all the types covered at least with the team you’ve been playing through the main game with. Once you’ve at least got that and the right levels, 5-star raids shouldn’t be too painful, at least in terms of your ability to contribute.

When presented with choices, I’d probably focus most on the Chansey family, Ralts family, Tinkaton family, and Eevee family. Chansey and Ralts’ families can play good support, Tinkerton’s got a very nice typing with a wide variety of learnable moves, and Eevee’s family is flexible. If you’re thinking about breeding, add Ditto to that list.

Choose a pokemon that does super effective damage against the tera type

Much as in Pokemon GO, raids are a DPS race. Unlike in POGO, though, you lose not just a little time and DPS to a faint but a chunk of time. Assume the worse: Everyone else is going to suck. Even if you’re playing support, unless you see some very good picks, bring a pokemon that does super effective damage to the target. The above tweet has a good graph that not only reminds you of the typings but also translates the new symbols.

Make sure your chosen pokemon also isn’t vulnerable to the target pokemon

Here’s something I see often: dragon raid bosses and players using their legendary mascot dragon against them. These groups may be OK at low levels, but in 5-star raids, taking super-effective damage from the boss and constantly dying causes the whole group to fail. Don’t be treating these like Pokemon GO DPS-raids.

Dying is quite punishing, and while you may not have to see other players again, they can go through the Switch’s “Add Friend” option, find you under “Search for Users You Played With,” and block you from future interactions, not just in pokemon but in all games. As Nintendo games become more online but still require Discord groups for optimal play (outside of having lots of RL friends who play), you may be bumping into the same people a lot, so don’t get yourself blocked.

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Start only when you’re ready

This especially is important to note if you’re the one hosting a raid. While you can try as many times as you please, you don’t want to be getting frustrated. There are some good Discords out there, so you can look through those channels for other people if you don’t have a group of friends. But if you’re just using random people you can’t chat with, remember to not ready up unless you like the look of what other readied people have chosen.

If even one person looks poorly prepared, don’t be afraid to select “Cancel.” Save yourself some frustration. Let’s say you’ve queued up a fight against a 5-star Pikachu (Electric type) with an Ice tera symbol, and people are bringing Dragonite (Dragon/Flying type). I’d cancel. Those people aren’t matching STAB attacks, Dragonite will take neutral damage from Pikachu’s basic attacks, and if it happens to have an ice attack, they’ll take quad damage. And that brings us to the next topic.

Don’t die!

That’s easy enough to say, but it’s not the same as “get gud.” Any time a pokemon faints, you lose time to defeat the boss, just as in the Sword and Shield raids. But unlike in Sword and Shield raids, I’m finding that support pokemon play a much bigger role in Scarlet and Violet, which does add depth and more of a need to coordinate, but sadly it’s in a series that mostly has had very little challenging PvE for decades, outside a few situations where the game gave NPCs increased odds for broken moves to work.

If your pokemon is looking hurt, don’t be afraid to use a heal, drain, or damage reduction/evasion/prevention move. Heck, some of those can be used on ally pokemon, in case the poké-Rambos in your group are just zerging to their own deaths. And if you lack those options, consider cheering.

Cheer, man!

Do not overlook the cheers. Like Pokemon GO raids, Tera Raids are a DPS race, except that you literally lose time when allies die. If you notice others need a heal, use the heal cheer!

Now, there’s also the defense cheer if your team is taking too much damage, or the attack one if you need to deal damage faster, but keep in mind that the raid boss can clear buffs. Pay attention to this. If the buffs were recently cleared, you can probably use a cheer buff. If they haven’t been, consider whether you need the cheer for this turn or should save it for later. You get only three cheers, but at the same time, you can’t cheer if you’re out of time.

One thing to consider: If you see pokemon like Azumarill or Iron Hands, start with the “Hang Tough!” and possibly follow-up with the “Heal up!” cheer. The above pokemon will often use Belly Drum, maxing their attack but reducing their HP by half. That’s going to help your DPS a lot, but at the risk of fainting. Don’t let them faint! Most of these pokemon are defensive anyway and should be able to take a hit, but that’s often at full health. Your cheer could be what keeps them up. Alternatively, if you’re in a pick-up-group, even if you’re running the above pokemon, you may want to start with the Defense cheer just to make sure your Belly-Drum doesn’t lead to your own immediate death.

Play support

The single-player pokemon games, like many MMOs, spend far too much time giving you a bloated sense of your skill. Between low skill, poor AI, and being able to blast levels above the competition, Pokemon games aren’t hard. That’s mostly OK until we hit co-op, and much as in an MMO, sometimes you need a smart support player so the Leeroys of the world don’t take you down with them.

An easy one is Blissey with Helping Hand, Light Screen, Heal Pulse, and Thunder Wave. If you can get the hidden ability Healer on it, even better. Light Screen helps with damage mitigation against Special Attackers, Thunder Wave’s Paralysis effect can prevent entire attacks, Helping Hand boosts damage for another player’s attacker, and Heal Pulse is hopefully obvious from the name.

Gallade can use this same set, and others can do something similar. For Mightiest Mark Charizard, I used a Sylveon with Helping Hand, Light Screen, Draining Kiss, and Moonblast, as Sylveon is immune to Dragon attacks, lots of people had Azumarills to support (which is doubly resisted to Charizard’s main attacks), Draining Kiss gives a self-heal, and Moonblast can help lower damage. And I’ve lost track of the amount of Charizards I helped slay with this, all from building up a Sylveon I simply caught from a lower-level raid.

12/17 Update: In the second round of the Unrivaled Charizard event, people have been using Sylveon offensively. While it can work better than Azumarill, a good offensive pick all-around, it requires more finesse. Assuming you get perfect stats, Azumarill just needs Huge Power (change this with an Ability Capsule), Shell Bell as a held item (bought at the Delibird Presents store n Levincia, under “Battle Items”), and then in combat, Belly Drum (or cheer to boost defenses first, if there’s no support), and then just Play Rough until you can terastilize and… continue to Play Rough, heal cheering as needed. You can grab Light Screen too if you’re worried about the lack of support players.

Sylveon requires the Pixilate ability (a hidden ability, so raid for a good breeder or use the rare Ability Patch to change it). I’d advise to start with Calm Mind a couple times (or, again, cheer for your defense), or if there are many Sylveons, Fake Tears (you may want both abilities though, as Calm Mind raises your Special Attack and Defensewhile Fake Tears lowers the enemy’s Special Defense). If you’re soloing, you’ll need to do both, but keep in mind that stats can’t be lowered once the enemy raises its shield, which is often when it’ll start nullifying your buffs and its own debuffs. After that, assuming the shields are still down and the debuffs are on, you can Hyper Beam to take off a huge chunk of damage (though at the cost of a turn), or use Hyper Voice. Keep Drain Kiss as your final move so you can get back some health. Assault Vest can help minimize damage, or use Covert Cloak so you don’t get confused or burned by some of Charizard’s move’s side effects.

Technically, Sylveon can wipe up Mighty Charizard in just a few hits after the long setup, but poor coordination can screw everyone over, and as you can see, it’s harder and longer to set up than Azumarill. Azumarill also resists more of ‘Zards moves, so as a support player, it’s far easier to keep the Azumarills going, and randoms seem to have a better grasp of how its strat goes. Sylveons can still get the job done, no doubt, but during the event, I had to switch from a support Sylveon, who could keep Azumarills up with Light Screen and cheers while assisting them with Helping Hand, to Chansey with Eviolite, a dedicated healer that would take a bit of time to explain why I use this instead of a fully evolved pokemon (TLDR: Eviolite gives it better defense stats). The choice is yours, but in my own circles, dedicated and solo players do better with offensive Pixilate Sylveon, while casuals would be wise to go with Azumarill. Support Sylveon is still very workable.

If you have the time to fully build a pokemon, you probably wouldn’t need to read this guide in the first place, which is why I made sure this route would work. Now, with that out of the way, I can get back to breeding weird, magical chaos-cats.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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