A beginner’s guide to competitive breeding in ‘Pokemon Sun’ and ‘Moon’

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Casual Pokemon players have wondered for years what the point of the daycare in every Pokemon game is. Yes, if you leave two Pokemon there they might make an egg; everyone knows that (besides the daycare attendants, who somehow seem confused every single time).

But why? Is there a benefit to hatching Pokemon rather than catching them in the wild? And is there any reason to take advantage of this system?

More: Pokemon Sun, Moon could be making their way to Nintendo Switch

If you ever want to crack into Pokemon’s deeper levels — the realm of competitive battling, which we cover in detail right here — the answer to those questions is “You bet your Pikachu there is.”

Breeding is how you get Pokemon with the best stats, by taking advantage of several semi-hidden systems within the Pokemon games. And if you’re getting into competitive battling, you’d better believe that everyone else has Pokemon with the best possible stats, so if you want to compete you need to as well.

Although it can be a time-consuming and frustratingly random process, strategically breeding Pokemon is necessary for success. And it can feel deliciously rewarding when you finally breed the perfect Pokemon. It makes you wonder if Brock knew what he was getting himself into?

Why you need to breed

Breeding is necessary for competitive players because of that old nugget of Pokemon knowledge. Every Pokemon, even if they’re the same species, level, gender, and nature, will have different stats from its peers. That’s due to a feature called Individual Values, or “IVs.”

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IVs are like a Pokemon’s DNA. They range from 0 to 31 and there’s one for each stat. IVs determine what a Pokemon’s stats look like, high or low. Once you’ve hatched any 20 eggs you can speak to a character in the lobby of the Battle Tree on Poni Island to gain the ability to easily check any Pokemon’s IVs, a feature new to Sun and Moon.

Pokemon caught in the wild usually have random IVs, but those hatched from eggs inherit some IVs from their parents, like genetics. And that’s why you must breed to get perfect competitive Pokemon. By selectively breeding across multiple generations, you can get the highest possible stats for your Pokemon.

This doesn’t matter at all when playing through a Pokemon game’s story, up to and beyond defeating the Elite Four. That’s because in-game, you can simply level your Pokemon above your opponents’ levels, and gain an unbeatable advantage (not to mention most players are smarter than the game-controlled opponents). But in competitive and online battling all Pokemon are the same level, and Pokemon without perfect IVs are at a serious disadvantage.

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