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it means Pokemon that are effective against a number of gyms, that have good stats, and that can be caught before the first gym

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The starters
All of them are very good against quite a few Gyms, sport a decent number of coverage moves, and can hold their own in a battle. I used Rillaboom for my playthrough, but any of the three works very well.

Barraskewda
It's an amazing glass cannon. It has a gigantic movepool, including things like Liquidation, Throat Chop, Close Combat, Drill Run, and Poison Jab. It's frail, but that doesn't matter when it OHKOs most of the opponents it faces.

Excadrill
Excadrill is also fairly frail yet fast, which is excellent in a game of hyper offense. Its Ground/Steel typing means it gets STAB on amazing attacks like Earthquake, and helps it deal with a few of the Gym more easily.

Arcanine
Arcanine is a very solid Fire type, and can learn moves like Wild Charge and Crunch for coverage. It deals nicely with quite a few Trainers in the game.

Sylveon
Sylveon is probably the best of the Eeveelutions. It gets very solid attacks and a nice pure Fairy typing that allows it to dish out lots of damage.

Roserade
Roserade is one of the best Grass type attackers in the game. With moves like Sludge Bomb, Shadow Ball, and Energy Ball, it can cover a wide assortment of Trainers and perform solidly in battle.

Hope I helped!

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Yes, my little brother is playing Shield and has an Arcanine, it just is great.
The current world record holder for speedrunning Shield used an Arcanine. https://www.speedrun.com/pkmnswordshield/run/y6le91py So Arcanine is probably the best Pokemon in this list. (the world record holder for Sword used Inteleon)
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You can catch any Pokemon in a dynamax adventure before the first gym. They are all level 65 or 70 so type matchups don't matter. Just get 2 legendaries and you can sweep the game.

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