A Minute-by-Minute Guide to Pokémon UNITE Battles

Plan your strategy with this breakdown of when to attack Drednaw and Rotom, when to battle Zapdos, and more.

Pokémon UNITE's standard and ranked Unite Battles play out within a strict 10-minute time limit. If you want to be an effective member of your team, you should know exactly what happens during that period and how you can make the most of your time. To help formulate your battle strategy, we've put together this minute-by-minute breakdown of a typical match.

Before diving in, though, it's important to be aware of the three sections of the map: the top path, the central area, and the bottom path. Typically, it's best to choose a section and stick with it early in the match. When you're in the pre-battle screen before a match begins, take a moment to tell your teammates which map section you plan to cover. You can do this by choosing Battle Prep and then selecting the Set Path option. Selecting your path in this manner will alert your teammates of your decision, but you can also use the Quick Chat function to let your teammates know which section you want. If you're unsure which section of the map is best for you to take, the game will recommend one to you based on the Pokémon you've selected. Generally, two Pokémon go to the top and bottom paths while just one Pokémon heads to the central area.

Although it is good to stay in your section, to really succeed in Pokémon UNITE, you should also be flexible and ready to leave your designated area when needed. If your teammates in another section have been knocked out, for example, it could leave your goal zones unattended. Keep your eyes on the minimap, and if the situation calls for it, head over to an area where your presence would be more valuable (just make sure you return when you've finished helping).

With that in mind, let's take a look at how a match breaks down.

Ludicolo, Bouffalant, and Audino

10:00 – 09:01

Your first order of business when the match begins is to immediately start defeating wild Pokémon to earn both Exp. Points and Aeos energy. In these early moments, your objective should be to level up your Pokémon quickly so that it can learn its more powerful moves.

If the opportunity presents itself, be sure to periodically run that Aeos energy over to your opponents' goal zones to score. Aeos energy doesn't help your team if you're hanging on to it. However, don't take any unnecessary risks—you may not want to get mixed up in a battle directly against your opponents at this point. Remember, your team wins in Pokémon UNITE by scoring the most goals, not by defeating your opponents' Pokémon. If you need to momentarily retreat, do so, and don't get too close to your opponents' goal zones unless you're sure you won't be knocked out. There's no shame in dealing a little damage with your moves and backing off.

At the 09:45 mark, Ludicolo and Bouffalant will appear in the central area. These two are tougher than the usual wild Pokémon, but in addition to Exp. Points and Aeos energy, they also reward you with special effects that will make you more effective in battle. They both have strong attacks that you should do your best to avoid, but fortunately, they clearly telegraph these moves so you can move out of the way (just watch for the red bar that appears showing the direction of the attack). Ludicolo and Bouffalant will also respawn on the map one minute after they're defeated, giving you multiple opportunities to boost your abilities. These Pokémon are worth a lot of Exp. Points, so it's important that your teammate in the central area defeats them as often as possible.

Defeating Ludicolo gives your Pokémon a purple aura, and for a short time afterward, wild Pokémon you attack will take more damage when they're at low remaining HP. This makes it easier to defeat the more powerful wild Pokémon in the game, like Drednaw, Rotom, and Zapdos.

When you defeat Bouffalant, your Pokémon will receive an orange aura. As long as that aura persists, hitting a Pokémon (either wild or a member of the opposing team) with an attack will cause that Pokémon's movement speed to decrease for a short time. If you find yourself caught in a battle with the other team, this buff will give you a great advantage.

When the clock reaches 09:40, Aipom and Corphish will appear on the top path, and Audino will appear on bottom path. Audino don't provide any extra advantages like Ludicolo and Bouffalant, but they do grant more Exp. Points and Aeos energy than smaller wild Pokémon like Aipom and Corphish, making them valuable targets between bouts with the opposing team. Remember that you'll only gain Aeos energy and Exp. Points if you deal the blow that knocks out a wild Pokémon, so try to time your attacks carefully. Battles over the middle Audino on the bottom path and the middle Corphish on the top path can get especially heated, so be careful if you've selected a Pokémon that's not so hot early in the game.

Corphish, Vespiquen, and Combee

09:00 – 08:01

Moving into the second minute of the game, you should still be focusing on building up your Pokémon's level, and new opportunities begin to arise that will accelerate that progress. Right at the 09:00 mark, Corphish will begin to spawn near the walls and grass of the top and bottom paths. Ten seconds later, Vespiquen and their swarms of Combee will appear on the top and bottom paths at 08:50. Like Audino, these Pokémon don't provide any extra effects when defeated, but they do give more Exp. Points and Aeos energy than Aipom and Corphish, so make them a priority when going after wild Pokémon. Players in the central area may sometimes want to join their teammates on the top or bottom paths to help them secure these defeats.

All three of these Pokémon eventually respawn after they've been defeated, so pay attention to the minimap to see when they return. Be aware, however, that wild Pokémon may not always respawn in the same location. Vespiquen and Combee, for instance, initially appear at the midpoint of their respective paths, but as you destroy your opponent's goal zones, they'll start to respawn closer to where those goal zones once stood.

Continue Scoring Goals

08:00 – 07:01

At this point in the battle, you should be comfortably in your groove, defeating wild Pokémon, leveling up via Exp. Points, collecting Aeos energy, and scoring goals. Be careful about unnecessary altercations with the opposing team when you can. If you find yourself overwhelmed, don't be afraid to retreat to your side of the map and grab a Sitrus Berry to restore your HP or chill out in one of your goal zones—especially if it's been a while since you last saw the opposing team's Pokémon that started in their central area. It's better to make a tactical retreat than to be knocked out, as that causes you to drop some of the Aeos energy you're carrying (which can then be collected by your opponents) and removes you from the action for a while as you wait to revive back at your base.

When it's time to make another run at the opposing goal zones, it might be smart to request backup from a teammate or check the minimap for an opposing goal zone that may be less well-defended.

Drednaw and Rotom

07:00 – 06:01

Both Drednaw and Rotom will appear on the map at the 07:00 mark. These Pokémon can drastically affect the course of the game, so it's smart to have a coordinated plan for how to deal with them. They both appear at the midpoint between the two teams' bases, so start expecting some more direct confrontation with your opponents as you assail these Pokémon.

Drednaw appears at the center of the bottom path, while Rotom awaits at the center of the top path. Of the two, Drednaw should be your primary target—so much so that it can be worthwhile for all teammates to converge on it. Defeating Drednaw provides everyone on your team with a shield that will absorb damage for a while. Perhaps more importantly, it also grants your team a significant amount of Exp. Points that go a long way toward making your team more powerful, which can turn the tide in your favor as the match continues.

Once Drednaw has been defeated, a couple members of your team will probably want to move up the map and focus on Rotom. When you defeat Rotom, it will begin moving toward the opposing goal zone. If it reaches the goal safely, your team gets a quick 20 points. The goal zone will also become defenseless for a short period of time, allowing you to score goals instantly.

These Pokémon will both reappear on the map two minutes after they've been defeated, giving your team another chance to improve its standing. Be aware that they'll leave the map at the 02:00 mark, when Zapdos arrives on the battlefield.

It cannot be stressed enough how important Drednaw can be to the final outcome. The Exp. Points it provides can give your team a huge level advantage that will continue to benefit you for the remainder of the match. Remember that the team that lands the final attack on Drednaw and Rotom gains the benefit, so don't let your opponents sneak in and steal your hard work. Saving your moves until these wild Pokémon are low on HP is a good way to make sure your team delivers the finishing blow.

Setting Yourself Up for Victory

06:00 - 02:01

Once Drednaw and Rotom begin spawning on the battlefield, not much else “new” happens in a match until Zapdos appears at the 02:00 mark. That doesn't mean you can relax, though. Your actions during these few minutes can prove pivotal to the match result. Spend this time setting yourself up for victory before the big encounter with the Legendary Pokémon. This means building up your level, scoring as many points as you can, and making sure your Pokémon is at full health, ideally armed with a Unite Move, and ready to battle when Zapdos appears.

If you happen to get knocked out or forced to retreat, note that at the 05:00 mark, a superjump springboard appears right outside your base. Stepping on this lets you quickly get your Pokémon back into the fray by launching it to a target area of your choosing. If your opponents are approaching one of your goal zones, the superjump springboard can toss you right into the middle of the action, giving you an opportunity to disrupt their scoring. Seconds count in Pokémon UNITE, so if you find yourself back at base, take advantage of this tool.

As you battle during this timeframe, remember to be flexible with your actions. Use creative thinking to determine what you can be doing to best benefit your team and set yourself up to be in an advantageous position during the final two minutes of the match. The best players take note of the minimap so they can be aware of what their teammates and their opponents are doing at all times, adjusting their strategy to react to the current situation.


02:00 – 00:00

When the countdown timer reaches 02:00, be prepared for two dramatic twists to the match. First, all goals scored from this point on will be worth double the points. Second, Zapdos appears in the center of the map. Combined, these two events can fill the final moments of every match with frenzied action and threaten even the biggest leads. This is also when you see the work you put in the previous eight minutes pay off—if your team built a lead, they'll have a much better shot of winning the crucial fight over Zapdos.

Defeating Zapdos is a difficult task that will usually require multiple teammates to accomplish. If your team happens to be trailing behind toward the end of the match, though, it can be worth the effort. Just be aware of the positioning of your opponents—if you know your opponents are close by, they're sure to attack you while you're trying to defeat Zapdos, so it may be wiser to engage them first. When Zapdos is defeated, the player that landed the final attack gets 30 Aeos energy, and their teammates get 20 Aeos energy each.

These points will still need to be scored in one of the opponents' goal zones, but you'll be aided by a 30-second window during which your opponents' goal zones are defenseless, allowing your team to instantly score goals. When you combine this with the fact that scored goals are worth double the points during the final two minutes of a match, securing a victory over Zapdos can really turn a match around.

Perhaps counterintuitively, if your team is in the lead when Zapdos appears, it may be beneficial to not attack it. After all, your opponents will be the ones who most need the points offered by Zapdos, forcing them to abandon their primary routines to go after the Legendary Pokémon. This will draw them to Zapdos's enclosure in the central area of the map, where your team can lie in wait to ambush them. And if they don't go after Zapdos—or if you think your team is ahead and Zapdos has already been defeated—you may want to fall back on playing defensively instead. By standing your ground near your base's superjump springboard, you can easily leap across the map to reach the opposing team's goal zones when the opportunity presents itself.

While your opponents are preoccupied with battling Zapdos and some of your teammates, your other teammates can continue to score points on the opponents' now unguarded goal zones. If your opponents happen to defeat Zapdos, you should focus on knocking them out before they reach your goal zones or holding them off for 30 seconds until your goals are no longer defenseless. Remember, all that work to defeat Zapdos only pays off if the winning team can score their points in a goal zone.

Like with Drednaw and Rotom, the team that lands the final attack on Zapdos gains the benefits, so take advantage of that fact to steal the moment from the opposition. Saving a Unite Move until Zapdos is nearly out of HP is a good way to get that last hit in.

If your team is struggling during the last few minutes of the game, make Zapdos your top priority. It's the kind of gambit necessary to get back on top. Just be aware that all these previously mentioned strategies will now likely be used against you. Take note of where the opposing team is, and get your hits in on Zapdos. You will, of course, have a much easier time of things if you've spent the rest of the match raising your levels.

Pokémon UNITE's battles may follow a clock, but the actions of you, your teammates, and your opponents will make each battle a unique experience. There's always something to learn that will help you out in the next round. It's important to understand the flow of a match, but know that being able to properly react to the current situation will greatly help you and your team achieve victory.

For more information, please visit the Pokémon UNITE official site.

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