The P in Pikachu stands for pain
It would be easy, they said.
Pikachu is the surprise 7-Star challenge in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet this weekend. Similar to past 7-Star events, completing this fight awards a unique Pikachu with the Mightiest Mark title that can be obtained once per save file. Additionally, Pikachu will always sport the same moveset and Water Tera-Type, so a winning strategy should theoretically work every time. Otherwise, this encounter is a good way to obtain rare materials like Ability Patches and Bottle Caps that drop exclusively in Tera Raids. On paper, anyway.
See, when Pikachu was announced as the next 7-Star encounter, people treated it like a joke. It was assumed this would be a relatively easy event to celebrate Pokemon Day, and we’d get our real raid challenge later. Surely they wouldn’t multiply Pikachu’s max health by an even greater amount than normal to make it challenging. It would be silly for them to give Pikachu exclusive mechanics we haven’t seen in a 7-Star raid yet. Surely they wouldn’t give Pikachu a Light Ball, breaking a tradition of raid Pokemon not holding items since Pokemon Sword & Shield, right?
As a silver lining, you’ll see Pikachu’s main gimmick right away. At the beginning of the encounter, Pikachu will immediately enter the shield phase. Sorry, by shield “phase” I mean Pikachu’s entire health bar is the shield. In short, all the rules of Tera Raid shields apply for the fight’s duration. Status moves won’t work unless they’re a secondary effect, and you’ll need to Terastalize to deal significant damage.
Following this, Pikachu will immediately use Rain Dance followed by Surf. This is the only time Pikachu will use Rain Dance during the encounter, as Pikachu’s normal moveset is all about offense. For special attacks, Pikachu will use Surf and Thunder, two moves that specifically benefit from Rain Dance. Pikachu also has Play Rough and Iron Tail for physical coverage. Combined, Pikachu will deal Water, Electric, Fairy, and Steel-Type damage depending on your Pokemon’s stats. As alluded to above, Pikachu is holding a Light Ball that doubles its physical and special attack stats. In other words, these moves hurt.
This event is fortunately light on mechanics aside from that. In my testing, Pikachu will reliably drain your Pokemon of Tera Orb charge by turn four. This is typically accompanied by a cleansing of its negative debuffs. The Tera Orb drain will occur at least one more time during the encounter, and any death will trigger it as a counter. Considering you need Terastalization to deal significant damage to Pikachu’s shield, you could see why this is a pain. Fortunately, unlike past events, Pikachu will never erase your buffs. This enables some strategies that make this fight more bearable, so lets get into those.
How to counter Pikachu
First thing’s first, the rain must go. The default answer to this is Sunny Day, which will change the weather to harsh sunlight. Not only does this clear Rain Dance, it actively debuffs Pikachu’s Surf. Ideally, a support Pokemon will use this on turn one.
Grass-Type Pokemon are the key to winning this fight. While you might think Electric Pokemon would succeed here given Pikachu’s Water Tera-Type, it knows its hidden ability Lighting Rod. Electric attacks will deal no damage to Pikachu and boost its special attack, so Electric counters are out of the question. Meanwhile, Grass-Types can deal Super Effective damage while resisting or taking neutral damage from Pikachu’s other attacks.
If your group can determine a lead DPS, that player should immediately start using attack moves to earn charges towards Terastalization. Only damaging moves charge your Tera Orb, so hold off on using buffs like Growth. If everyone cooperates, your lead DPS can Terastalize right before Pikachu starts draining charges. Remember, you can pull off Terastalization later in the fight, so you shouldn’t risk a death trying to beat the buzzer. Getting Terastalization in early just helps the fight end sooner (and thereby lowers your risk of running out of time).
Ideally, because of how busted Pikachu’s shield is, you’ll want your lead DPS to be buffed and Pikachu to be debuffed to make the fight flow smoothly. Most Grass Pokemon use special attacks, so lowering Pikachu’s special defense is key. Keep in mind that Pikachu will cleanse itself of negative effects throughout the fight, so be ready to reapply debuffs as the encounter progresses.
What items should you bring?
There are a few item options in front of you this time, and many of them are universal. The most popular pick this time around is the Covert Cloak. This gives your monster immunity to secondary effects, including Thunder’s chance to paralyze you. After Rain Dance is cleared, Pikachu is likely to spam Thunder on you, so the Covert Cloak comes in clutch. That said, Healing Cheers also remove status conditions, so you’ll have to weigh the opportunity cost of using the Cloak over other options.
The Shell Bell is another typical option for DPS Pokemon to hold, and it technically works here too. For a lead DPS, this can be a decent way to provide some HP sustain as you tear into Pikachu’s shield. Shell Bell won’t help much before that, since you’ll deal almost no damage without an ample amount of buffs, debuffs and of course Terastalization. Still, it might save you a couple turns later in the fight.
Finally, let’s talk about the Assault Vest. I actually haven’t tested this, but many players are reporting success in using this item to solo the encounter. This item prevents the use of status moves but boosts your special defense by 50%. I’ll take the word of the people who endorse this item.
Now lets get into the Pokemon that will help you win this thing.
DPS MVP: Lurantis
Lurantis is not the most popular pick for this fight. However, if you intend to farm Pikachu this weekend, I absolutely recommend Lurantis to be on your team.
The main strategy here is using Leaf Storm. This is a powerful 130 base power Grass-Type special attack, but it lowers the user’s special attack by two stages per use. However, Lurantis’ Hidden Ability Contrary turns debuffs into buffs, making Leaf Storm exponentially powerful. If Lurantis can stay alive, it will get to early Terastalization with +6 special attack. From here, you can start dealing significant damage to Pikachu.
To round out Lurantis’ kit, Sunny Day and Synthesis come highly recommended. As mentioned above, Sunny Day is crucial for this fight. If no one else uses it at the encounter’s beginning, Lurantis can cover that base as well. Additionally, Synthesis gives Lurantis strong HP recovery in harsh sunlight. Lurantis’ fourth move is up to you. You can opt for a move like Giga Drain or Ingrain for further sustain options. Grassy Terrain is often recommended, though ideally you’d be pairing Lurantis with the next monster on this list.
Support/DPS MVP: Arboliva
Arboliva is well-rounded and requires relatively low investment, so this is a popular pick online. Arboliva will immediately prove its worth on Turn 1 by triggering its ability Seed Sower. This will set Grassy Terrain on the field, boosting the power of Grass-Type moves and providing light HP recovery for the team. Arboliva will passively keep Grassy Terrain active throughout the fight.
Typically, Arboliva will run Sunny Day and Growth. Sunny Day’s value is established by now, and Growth will sharply boost Arboliva’s attack stats as long as harsh sunlight is active. Giga Drain is typically used if Arboliva is going for early Terastalization, though in my experience the HP recovery is miniscule at best. For a main DPS move, you have a few options. Terrain Pulse synergizes with Grassy Terrain and effectively deals 100 base power Grass damage. You might also opt for Solar Beam, which needs no buildup in sunlight. Energy Ball can also be used to deal unconditional damage, so pick whichever sounds appealing to you.
Because Arboliva needs more turns to set up with Growth and thereby requires keeping harsh sunlight up, I ultimately find this olive tree less than ideal as a pure DPS option. It gets the job done, but I found I was brushing the end of the timer more often than Lurantis would. Because of that, you could opt to use Arboliva as a pure support option. It has access to both Reflect and Light Screen to provide valuable utility for the party, and Helping Hand can boost an ally’s damage. Either way, you absolutely want at least one Arboliva on your team.
Support MVP: Goodra
If you’ve read my previous raid guides, you know I’m always trying healer builds. I picked Goodra this time around, and this dragon’s frankly being underutilized for this encounter.
Despite weakness to Pikachu’s Play Rough, a Goodra with an HP/Defense build can easily take its hits after two uses of Curse. Remember, Pikachu never clears buffs, so you’re good as gold after this point. From here, Goodra has a few support options. Sunny Day needs no introduction, and Life Dew can be learned as an Egg Move. If your teammates are going for early Terastalization, extra healing can be immensely helpful. That said, possibly Goodra’s best contribution to the fight is Acid Spray. This lower’s the target’s special defense by two stages, and I cannot stress enough how much this helps. Even if Pikachu cleanses itself of debuffs, reapply Acid Spray over and over to dramatically help your friends.
Also, as a fun gimmick, a Goodra that knows its Hidden Ability Gooey will drop Pikachu’s speed by goading it to use Play Rough. This doesn’t change the fight significantly, but it is very funny. Look, I’ll take all the joy I can get, alright?
Support/Solo MVP: Clodsire
Clodsire is another user of Acid Spray that requires less setup than Goodra. Between its Water/Ground Type and its ability Water Absorb, Clodsire handily shuts down both of Pikachu’s Special Attacks. Any damage it does take can be restored with Recover, which it can learn as an Egg Move. I have seen reports that Clodsire can solo the fight by buffing its stats to max with Curse and proceeding to spam Earthquake, but I haven’t verified this myself.
For added utility, I’d highly recommend giving Clodsire Mud Slap. This is a basic move that lowers accuracy, but it’s nice to get Pikachu missing attacks left and right. This is especially true if Pikachu’s AI locks it into using Thunder on your teammates, which already has mediocre accuracy. Whether you use it for offense or support, Clodsire is a great pick.
Find your niche, but only if you want to
I’ll quickly go over honorable mentions because there are quite a few. Appletun can use Iron Defense to tank Pikachu’s Play Rough while also using Apple Acid to deal damage and lower special defense. Meowscarada can reportedly use Knock Off to remove Pikachu’s Light Ball. Leafeon and Gastrodon also routinely appeared in my online parties to varying degrees of success. If I went over every possible option, I’d be here all day.
It’s not that this fight is impossible, it’s just annoying. Tera Raids are buggy on a good day, and designing an entire encounter around an endless shield phase routinely glitched my game and buried me in text boxes that slowed the fight down. Additionally, getting knocked out after Terastalization as a lead DPS is functionally a game over since you can’t Terastalize again. Combined with Pikachu’s constant charge draining, this fight is seriously tedious. With a perfect party of Lurantis, Arboliva, and supporters that can lower special defense, you can get quick kills on par with the previous 7-Star raids. That said, good luck setting that up in online lobbies without any means to communicate with other players.
The drops are especially good this time around. I was getting 20+ Water Tera Shards per clear, which honestly should be the default for Shards to begin with. At the same time, your major reward is just a Pikachu, which is already plentiful in the main game. Perhaps as tactics solidify over this weekend, you’ll be able to manage consistent clears. Otherwise, if you wanted to skip this one, I wouldn’t blame you. Perhaps that strategy does make this an easy encounter.