Pokémon Sword and Shield by all accounts are selling incredibly well, with the pair of games seeing not only the biggest opening weekend sales for any switch game ever, but also the best selling opening weekend for any Pokémon game worldwide this decade. As a result, there’s likely a fair few of you out there who have picked up a copy of Sword or Shield, but have not played a Pokémon game in the past couple of years.
If you’ve been out of the loop on the past few Pokémon games, you might have noticed there is suddenly a lot of chatter on social media about Shiny Pokémon, and people going out of their way to find them. If you’ve never encountered a shiny Pokémon yourself, or are just looking on advice on how to hunt one down in these new games, this is the guide for you.
What is a Shiny Pokémon?
A shiny Pokémon is basically the same as any other Pokémon in terms of the moves it can learn, what makes it strong, and what it is weak against. The only difference with Shiny Pokémon is that they are a different colour to their regular design, feature a visual sparkle effect when encountered, and are very unlikely to appear in game.
In Sword and Shield, the base odds of finding a shiny Pokémon are 1/4096, meaning that unless you’re either very lucky, or deliberately looking for one, you’ll probably never see a shiny Pokémon while on your adventure. There are ways to improve those odds, which we will get to later.
Additionally, you might hear people talk about Ultra Shiny Pokémon in Sword and Shield, which is something new to the series. In short, depending on how you find your Shiny Pokémon, it might have a star sparkle effect, or a diamond shaped sparkle effect when encountered. Neither of these Shiny Pokémon is inherently better than the other, but you only have a 1/16 chance of getting the uncommon form of shiny in your encounter, so for some these may become an even more elusive status symbol.
Some Pokémon, such as the starter you get at the start of the game, or the legendary Pokémon at the end of the game, cannot be found as shiny forms, with the legendaries likely to be given away at a later date shiny, and starters only able to be bred shiny.
If you’re curious what a Shiny version of your favourite Pokémon looks like, and if you would want to go to the effort of tracking one down, the below video shows shiny forms of every Pokémon available in Sword and Shield.
So, how do I get a shiny Pokémon?
Depending on which Pokémon game you play, shiny Pokémon are found in different ways. For example, in the most recent Pokémon game Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee, shiny Pokémon appeared different colours and sparkly on the overworld, and you made them more likely to appear by catching the same creature over and over without breaking a chain.
While it was initially believed a chain system was involved in capturing Shiny Pokémon in Sword and Shield, this has since been debunked by official statements by Nintendo. If you see anyone telling you that you need to encounter the same Pokémon over and over in an unbroken chain to get a shiny, they are working from old, unofficial, debunked information.
So, let’s say you really want a Shiny Impadimp, there’s a few things you can do to specifically seek one out.
The Shiny Charm
Firstly, let’s talk about the Shiny Charm. This is an in game item which can be earned by completing your Pokédex, and capturing one of each of the game’s 400 species of creature. While collecting the shiny charm is not explicitly required to find a Shiny Pokémon, it will help you out immensely, as it essentially doubles your chances of finding Shiny Pokémon across the board. Every Pokémon you encounter will have a better chance of being shiny, and it also increases the odds of the deliberate shiny hunting methods working. Basically, you’ll have more luck hunting things deliberately with this charm equipped.
Of the two shiny hunting methods available in Sword and Shield, the first one we’re going to talk about is breeding. At a couple of locations in Sword and Shield you will find nurseries, where you can leave two Pokémon together in the hopes of them breeding. In order for two Pokémon to breed successfully, they need to be compatible Pokémon, sharing something called an egg group. Basically, two Sobble left together, one male and one female, will breed, but a Sobble left with a Scorbunny will not.
In order to make things easier, there is a Pokémon called Ditto which can be found late in the game, which when left with any Pokémon, male or female, will produce eggs. Finding one of these will make breeding a lot easier to accomplish.
However, if you want to breed for shiny Pokémon, you’re going to want to trade your Ditto, for a Ditto belonging to someone with a foreign language copy of the game. The easiest way to do this is go on social media such as Twitter, say which language Ditto you have for trade, and that you’re looking for a different language Ditto, they’re not too hard to find.
So, why do we want a foreign ditto? Well, this is something dubbed by fans as the Masuda breeding method. Basically, if the two Pokémon you are breeding with each other came from different language copies of the game, your odds of hatching a Shiny Pokémon from their eggs increases dramatically. Instead of the base 1/4096 odds, you can get your shiny odds down to 1/682. I know that’s still a lot of eggs to collect, then run around trying to hatch, but it’s probably the least effort intensive shiny hunting method.
Simply fill up all your Pokémon boxes with eggs, run around hatching them, and repeat the process until your shiny hatches. You’ll have a 15/16 chance of the hatched Shiny being a star shiny, and a 1/16 chance of it being a diamond effect shiny.
Shiny Hunting in The Overworld
The other method of Shiny hunting, and the one you’re more likely to see people doing on Twitch or social media, can give you better shiny odds, but is also a little more involved. Basically, we’re going to capture or knock out a specific species of Pokémon over and over again.
A few important things to note for those used to Shiny hunting in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, Shiny Pokémon do not appear shiny on the overworld any more, so you’ll have to physically encounter them and start a fight to see if their colours are altered. The yellow aura you’ll see on some Overworld Pokémon means they have unique moves and better stats, not that they’re going to be shiny. Additionally, this new Shiny hunting method is something which can be worked on over time, and does not need to be done all at once over time.
So, let’s once again say we’re looking for a shiny Impadimp, you’ll want to start by Opening your Pokédex and looking up the Pokémon you want to shiny hunt. In its Pokédex entry, you’ll see an entry for Number Encountered, a track of the lifetime number of this species you have either captured, or knocked out in battle. This number is what we want to increase to get better shiny odds for this one specific species of Pokémon.
If you find an Impadimp in the wild, knocking it out or capturing it will increase this number, while running away will not increase the number. Hatching one from an egg will also not increase the number, only knock outs and captures. Knock outs in battles with other trainers will increase this number.
So, how many Impadimp do you have to knock out to get better shiny odds? Well, Nintendo released some official information about that recently.
50 = 2x shiny rate
100 = 3x shiny rate
200 = 4x shiny rate
300 = 5x shiny rate
500 = 6x shiny rate
To be crystal clear, you don’t need to do all of these encounters consecutively, and you can go away and do other things, chipping away at this task over time. If you kncok out 50 Impadimp, then continue with the story, that 2X shiny rate for Impadimp will remain forever in your copy of the game, and you can continue to build that number from where you left off later.
While these numbers from Nintendo are a little bit oversimplified and averaged out for easy consumption, based on datamining of the game we know the exact ratios or rarity this brings Shiny encounters down to in the wild for a specific species you’re hunting. Without the Shiny charm you’ll have a 1/682 chance of finding a Shiny after knocking out or catching 500 of a species of Pokémon, with that increasing to 1/512 with the shiny charm. This means at the top end this method does have slightly better shiny rates than the egg method, but it is a bit more involved too.
On average, you’d need to encounter around 1,000 of a Pokémon to find a shiny this way. Once you have got that number of encounters above 500 you’re welcome to run from future encounters bif doing so is faster, the only advantage really to continuing to knock out or catch is keeping better track of how many encounters deep you are in the hunt.
Shiny Pokémon found this way currently have a 15/16 change of being Diamond shinys, with a 1/16 chance of being star shinys.
Pitfalls to Avoid
So, if you’ve read all this and are eager to get out there and start on your very first Shiny hunt, these are some things you aught to know before committing to your quest. These tips come from a LOT of personal experience shiny hunting, and are designed to help you set your expectations correctly.
Hunting for a Shiny Pokémon is often long and slow work, sometimes depressingly or frustratingly so. You’ve quite possibly seen a lot of stories of People finding Shiny Pokémon by pure luck, or only a few encounters into their quest, but that luck is in no way guaranteed.
When Pokémon Sword and Shield roll that 4096 sided dice to see if a creature will be shiny, and it isn’t, that number that failed isn’t taken off the dice roll. You’re not guaranteed to find a shiny, even if you do the specified number of encounters that lines up with your current odds.
Sometimes you will catch a Shiny just 50 encounters into looking, sometimes you’ll get 6,000 encounters deep without seeing a shiny appear. Your odds of one showing up are not increasing inherently as you encounter non shiny Pokémon, and sometimes the dice rolls won’t be in your favor.
I am currently 1,400 Yampers into a hunting quest, and I have not found a Shiny yet, while others who were not even trying have found multiple. That’s just the way RNG goes, and no matter the method you choose, you have to be prepared for that scenario going in.
Because this shiny hunting method isn’t reliant on you sticking in one spot and doing nothing but shiny hunting, use that to your advantage. Shiny hunt in short bursts, and take breaks to do other things, or play other games, without shame when needed. If you burn yourself out hunting that one elusive Shiny, you’ll probably have lost a lot of your passion to actually use it, or hunt for other shiny monsters, once you complete it.
Have fun, don’t let anyone tell you your shiny isn’t good enough or was achieved the wrong way, and enjoy the ride. Some people will tell you using methods to increase shiny odds isn’t doing it correctly, or trading for a shiny is bad, or hatching them is too easy, or that you have the wrong sparkle effect when yours comes out. Ignore the elitists, and have fun going on your own adventure, your own way, to find as many or as few Shiny Pokémon as your heart desires.