Recently, I caught my first honest Shiny Pokémon. I say “honest”, because the actual first was a Magikarp that spawned while I was fishing and it was only the seventh I’d ever encountered. By the actual time commitment of catching a Shiny Pokemon, it felt like a fluke, maybe even fraud. My Shiny Machop however was earned the old fashioned way, through hours of patient grinding. With this key experience under my belt, I can now speak from a place of authority. I know all the tricks on how to make the process as quick and painless as possible. If you’re in search of a Shiny Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield and don’t know where to begin, here’s what you do.
First things first, you shouldn’t even begin to pursue a Shiny Pokémon unless you’ve completed the full Pokédex. Doing so will award the Shiny Charm, which increases your chances of finding a Shiny Pokémon from 1/4096 to approximately 3/4096 or roughly 1/1365, according to Bulbapedia. Once you’re awarded this item, it will provide the bonus passively from your inventory. It is awarded by the Game Freak director in Hotel Ionia in Circester, so check every room and talk to every character once you’ve collected all 400 Pokemon.
Seasoned Pokémon fans will already know the best way to get a Shiny Pokémon is through chaining. Battling (not catching) several Pokémon will dramatically increase your catch rate, especially once you’ve caught a few hundred in a row. At 50, Shiny Pokémon have 2x the likelihood of appearing. At 100, the likelihood increases to 3x. At 200, it increases to 4x. At 300, to 5x. And at 500, it tops out at a 6x likelihood of appearing.
The key to making this process tolerable is making each Pokémon battle go as fast as possible. Change the text speed in the options to Fast and the battles will go slightly faster. By the time you’re ready to grind for a Shiny, the Pokémon you’re encountering in the Wild Area will be level 60. Lead your party with a level 100 Pokémon and aim for one-hit kills. You should also try to pad out the Pokémon’s moves with high PP attacks, and keep track of how many times your Pokémon can move before you have to swap them out for another Pokémon—it’s an easy way to keep track of how many Pokémon you’ve battled and it allows you to mentally check out as the repetition sets in. My Boltund has about 81 PP across all four attacks, which means it will take about three full runs with her before I find a Shiny. With the improved Shiny spawn rates afforded by chaining plus the Shiny Charm, a Shiny appears to pop up around the 200-250 mark, but your mileage will vary. I’ve seen some Shinies not pop up until 500 or more.
Another way to make sure the process goes quickly is to choose a high spawn rate area for the Pokémon of your choice. This won’t be possible with all of them—some have very limited habitats and only appear during one weather pattern. But some are so widely available that you won’t have much of a problem getting the numbers you need: Machop, Drifloon, Ghastly and others are abundant and available in multiple patches and under almost universal conditions. You should also stock up on lots of diverse berries so that you can make curries while you camp, earning at least a Copperrajah level, so you don’t need to travel back to the Pokémon Center to restore PP; this too will cut back on time commitments significantly.
You may be wondering: “if I encounter another Pokémon, will it break the chain?” So far, the answer seems to be no, provided you don’t actually battle the Pokémon. Use the Run command if you accidentally drift into a Pokémon you don’t want to battle. It appears that chaining Pokémon in multiple sessions still contributes to increased Shiny spawn rates.
Of course, one of the neatest Shiny spawning tricks is to use the Masuda Method, named for Game Freak director Junichi Masuda, who programmed the trick into Pokémon Diamond and Pearl and first described the process on his blog. The idea is to use a foreign language Ditto in the Pokémon Nursery with a Pokemon of your choice in order to breed a Shiny. As Bulbapedia explains, “If the game recognizes the two Pokémon in the daycare as having different languages, then when an Egg is generated, the game will generate extra personality values in an attempt to find one that results in a Shiny Pokémon.” It also stacks with the Shiny Charm’s effect.
Your Ditto must also have a high IV (Individual Value) to encourage higher Shiny spawn rates. To determine what your Ditto’s IV is, you’ll need to have completed at least five battles in the Battle Tower. This will give you the ability to assess each Pokémon, which will tell you their IV level. The highest level of IV will give the best results, but be aware they may be hard to come by through trading, as most wild Ditto will not naturally have a high IV, and you will not be able to breed one and still retain its status as a foreign Pokémon. Hyper Training, which gives you the chance to increase the stats of a level 100 Pokémon and increase its IV, has no effect on breeding.
A Ditto from another country and language can be obtained through trade, but the Japanese ones seem to be the most effective. To make it a little easier to get one and ensure your trade partner is from Japan, take the advice from Redditor TheSippyCup (from a Reddit thread that has since been pulled). Go either here or here for direct Pokémon trading boards, and copy paste this phrase (seen here) to request a trade, substituting the hashtags for your room number:
I was able to obtain two Japanese Ditto this way, one of whom was assessed as “Amazing,” an ideal quality level for breeding Shinies.
Be sure that your Pokémon at the nursery are holding beneficial items: Destiny Knot transfers IVs and an Everstone transfers Nature.
So about how long does it take to chain a Shiny Pokémon? That will depend on if you’ve gained the Shiny Charm, but generally it will take at least five or six hours, depending on how fast you can find more Pokemon to battle, and of course, whether or not you get a stroke of good luck. My Machop spawned at 304 catches and a streak of 266, my Tympole spawned at 204 with a streak of 202, and my Magikarp spawned after only a handful of encounters and no chain streak at all. Just hang in there! They’ll show up if you persevere, and if nothing else, it’s a great chance to level up different Pokémon in your party. Just remember that your total will still count towards the improved spawn rates, even if break it up into a few separate chain sessions.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.