It has not yet been out for a month, yet Pokemon Sword and Shield is already is establishing its competitive scene. It is a Pokemon game after all. But there's an unexpected top tier Pokemon emerging as one of the best in the game. That Pokemon is Galarian Darmanitan.
All the early favorites for Pokemon Sword and Shield are starting to be revealed as competitive play is about to begin. Sword and Shield's first competition, The Galar Beginnings, is starting this Friday. This Single Battle competition will let players use any Pokemon they have from the Galar Pokedex, with the exceptions of for the legendaries Mew, Zacian, Zamazenta, and Eternatus.
Darmanitan is a Pokemon introduced in Pokemon Black and White. This typically fire-type Pokemon is the evolved form of Darumaka. In Pokemon Sword and Shield both Pokemon have a Galarian Ice-type variant. To get a Galarian Darmanitan players need to catch a Galarian Darumaka and give it an ice stone in order for it to evolve.
What makes this Pokemon so special is that Darmanitan has the ability to change forms during battle. Darmanitan can transform into Zen Mode depending on its Ability and current HP. When the Pokemon enters Zen Mode, it is Fire/Psychic-type. This gives it a whole new look and changes its stats. The Galarain variant is Ice/Psychic type when it is in Zen Mode.
Galarian Darmanitan has a unique ability that puts it above the rest of the pack, though. Gorilla Tactics is an interesting passive trade-off move. It acts as an innate Choice Band, increasing Darmanitan's Attack stat by 30% but only allowing it to use one move for an entire battle. Players are giving Darmanitan a Choice Band or Choice Scarf as its held item, which gives it another 50% boost to Attack without any drawback. By stacking a Gorilla Tactics Darmanitan with a Choice Band, players have found a way to boost Darmanitan's Attack by 195%, making them nearly unstoppable if players have the right moves.
Pokemon Sword and Shield is going to be relevant for a long time, between competitive play and updates to the Wild Area. For an entry that was not taking huge risks in terms of breaking the Pokemon formula, where these games may shine is in the post-game support that comes.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch.