I've been playing Pokémon Go since it launched. I've almost got enough experience points to have reached level 40 — twice. I've completed my regional Pokédex for Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn, and have beaten over 1000 Raids. Over the last couple of years, levels, events, and encounters, I've picked up a few tips and tricks that have helped me immensely. It's the stuff I know now that I wish I knew back when I started. Heck, I wish I knew some of it back when I hit level 30!
Friendship: How to increase your level fast
Friendship is a terrific new game mechanic in Pokémon Go, but you can only raise your level once a day. So, it's consistency that counts.
- Make sure you Raid, Gym, or Gift with your Friends every day. It takes 30 days to reach Ultra Friend and 90 days to reach Best Friend, status. The fewer days you miss, the faster you'll level up.
- For long distance Friends or Friends you didn't meet up with during the day, open or send a Gift. (Alternate gifts. Only one gift opening counts, so coordinate only one a day to save on resources and avoid duplication.)
- For friends you do see during the day, get in a Gym or a Raid. There's a limit of 20 gifts you can send or receive, but no limit to Gyms or Raids you can coordinate.
Field Research: How to finish faster
Field research lets you complete common tasks in Pokémon Go and earn rewards in the form of items, XP, and even encounters. There are a couple things you can do, though, to complete them faster.
Delete tasks that are hard to complete. If you get a Raid task after Raids have ended for the day, or a catch-task for a type of Pokémon that's unlikely to spawn due to location, time, or weather, you can delete it and get another, easier to complete task.
Stack tasks that are similar. If you have identical or near identical tasks, or even complementary try to complete them at the same time. For example, if you have to catch 10 Pokémon and you have to hit 3 Great Throws, go for the Great Throws on those 10 Pokémon.
Failure is an option. For Raid and Gym tasks, unless they specifically say you have to win, all you really have to do is try. So, you can do a Raid, lose, and often get credit anyone. You can even lose repeatedly to knock a bunch of Raids off your list.
Gyms: How to take them down quicker
The new Gym system is very different from the old one. Thanks to CP decay, almost anyone can destroy almost any Gym in a short amount of time. Still, you can destroy them even faster if you want to, even if defenders are feeding berries.
It typically takes three rounds to take down a fully motivated Gym in Pokémon Go. If there's only one defender, that's three battles total. If it's a full six defenders, that's 18 battles. If you attack in groups, usually you all go together and it still takes three rounds or up to 18 battles for everyone.
If you attack in waves, though, you can get that down to one round each.
- Attacker 1 enters the Gym and battles defender 1.
- When attacker 1 defeats defender 1, attacker 2 enters and starts battling defender 1.
- When attacker 1 defeats defender 2, and attacker 2 defeats defender 1, attacker 3 enters and starts battling defender 1.
- When attacker 1 defeats defender 6, they can either stop or jump in and help attacker 3 with defender 4. Either way, by the time attacker 3 is done, the Gym should be done too.
If you have more than 3 people, you can team up for the waves. Two people can do the first wave, for example. You only ever need three waves, though, because that's usually how many battles you need to take down the Gym.
You can also focus on taking out one Pokémon at a time, making it less likely other defenders will get notifications and start feeding berries as well.
- Attack the first defender.
- Drop out.
- Attack the first defender a second time.
- Drop out.
- Attack the first defender a third time.
- Drop out.
- Make sure the first defender is gone. If not (if someone is remotely feeding it), attack it again. If so, move on to the second defender.
- Repeat until all defenders are defeated and the Gym is empty.
Combine the two methods, and you can wipe out any Gym quickly and effectively.
Gyms: How to defend them longer
Sure, under the new Gym system, anyone can take down any Gym they want. So, the trick becomes making them not want to take down your Gym.
Ideally, you want to work as a team and stack a Gym with the best mix of ultra-tanks and counter-counters as possible. You want to anchor your Gyms with the Pokémon that are the toughest to take down:
If you want to optimize for intimidation, especially if you don't mind feeding Golden Razz Berry remotely, than you can go for higher CP and not worry about it. Especially with Slaking. That'll keep the Gym big and tall, further encouraging would-be attackers to keep stepping.
If you want to optimize for longevity, especially if you're low on Golden Razz Berry, you can stick to between 1200 and 1800 CP and hope for the best.
You can also anticipate counters. All of the best defenders have one thing in common — and one weakness in common. They're all Normal-type and so are all vulnerable to Fighting-types.
To help compensate for that, you want to make sure your Pokémon have Psychic-type moves to at least damage the Fighting-types that'll be thrown against them.
- Blissey: Dazzling Gleam
- Snorlax: Zen Headbutt
- Chansey: Dazzling Gleam
- Slaking: Play Rough
Then you want to interleave them with Pokémon that do even more damage to the counters — or the generalists that less tactical players will throw at them. That'll either beat down the attackers or force compromises in the attack teams and/or switching between rounds.
If you're working with a team and go to the trouble of stacking a Gym for maximum effect, keep in touch with that team while you're defending. Whether you're using Facebook Messenger, Discord, iMessage, Whatsapp, or something else, coordinate slot filling and berry feeding to really maximize your defense.
Raids: How to run them right
Raiding has brought new challenges, new rewards, and a new sense of community to Pokémon Go. But if you're not careful, you can consume a lot of resources at best, and fail in your raid attempts at worst.
There's the simple stuff everyone already knows: Use the best counters and give them the best moves. You can get good counters by working your way up through raids. For example, get Machamp to get Tyranitar. Then use your TMs to give them the best moves. Heavy Slam Machamp or Fire Blast Tyranitar are near useless. Dynamic PUnch Machamp or Stone Edge Tyranitar are forces of nature.
It's also best to put your effort into the most efficient counters rather than niche counters. Tyranitar and Golem, for example, typically counter a bunch of Raid Bosses, so they're better investments than a Pokémon that only counters one.
If you do want to use a Gengar or some other high DPS, low toughness Pokémon, put them first in your Battle Team. That way, hopefully, they can get off a charge or two move before the Raid Boss squishes them.
If you're lucky enough to have a lot of good counters, pay attention to what Pokémon Go auto selects for you. If they're decent and you think you will have to jump back into the raid, pick other Pokémon to start. That way, when you faint, the auto-select will be good enough and you won't have to waste time healing or choosing all over again.
Also, if you notice odd auto selections, it might be an indicator of movesets you should worry about. For example, if you don't get Tyranitar for Lugia, it means Lugia has Hydro Pump, which hurts Tyranitar. Same for Gyarados for Groudon. It means Groudon has Solar Beam.
Select alternates accordingly.
Finding: Check your Nearby and Sightings
Pokémon Go now includes two distinct forms of detecting the Pokémon in your immediate vicinity. The first is Nearby, which shows you Pokémon hanging around the PokéStops in your area. The second is Sightings, which shows you the Pokémon hiding anywhere close by, ready to spawn.
The Pokémon tab at the bottom right of your travel screen shows you up to three Pokémon. Tap on it, and you'll see up to nine. Depending on what's in your area, they'll be all Nearby, all Sightings, or a mix of both.
Neither Nearby or Sightings shows you every Pokémon around you. If there are a lot of PokéStops in your area and a lot of Pokémon loitering at those Stops, Nearby will only show you a random sampling.
In a perfect world, if a Snorlax spawned close by, it would override everything else and pop straight to the top. But we live in a very, very imperfect world. So, Nearby if that Snorlax wasn't at a PokéStop, you'd have to walk within 40m or so or risk missing it.
Catch some of the Pokémon at the PokéStops, though, and you thin things out, letting Sightings back in. Then you might see that Snorlax sooner.
You can't watch Nearby and Sightings 24/7, and a person can't live by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) alone. If you do have a few moments here or there, though, tap open Pokémon Go and take a peak.
I was once out filming a video review, took a spare second to check, and found a Snorlax had spawned right on top of me. When I arrived at a friend's house for dinner, I popped it open and saw a Lapras right on the street corner. It's only happened a handful of times, and I've no doubt missed more than I've caught, but catching any super-rare Pokémon that just happen to be around is better than none.
Finding: Know your nests
Most Pokémon have "nests", or consistent places where one to four of the same Pokémon will spawn regularly, sometimes even hourly. Sadly, very rare Pokémon like Tyranitar, Mareep, Dragonite, Snorlax, Lapras, and even Grimer don't have any known nests, but others like Electabuzz, Magmar, Totadile, and Jinx do.
Nests currently "migrate" every two weeks. These migrations occur at 12 a.m. UTS. (4 p.m. PST / 7 p.m. EST or 5 p.m PDT / 8 p.m. PST) every second Thursday. That's good, because it gives you a couple weeks to stock up on any good Pokémon at your local nests, but also changes things up fairly quickly if you get stuck with a bad nest. So, over the course of a few months, your Charmander nest might become Slowpoke, Charmander again, Marril, Drowzee, Yanma, then Growlithe, and so on. Nest migrations are seemingly random, though, so you never really know what you'll get.
Water spawns aren't nests because they don't migrate and have multiple water-type Pokémon that spawn together. For example, Staryu, Slowpoke, Polywag, Psyduck, Chinchou, Remoraid, Magikarp, Wailmer often all spawn at the same water-side points. And if Magikarp and Wailmer are spawning hourly... Dratini and Seebas may just be spawning daily.
Same goes for a few others, like electric spawns. Find a big electric center at a university or other large structure and don't be surprised if you find Magnamite and Voltorb aplenty along with it.
Catching: Always be Curving (ABC)
Throwing a Curve Ball in Pokémon Go is believed to give you a 1.7x bonus to catch a Pokémon. (Catching means they don't break free from your Poké Ball or, worse, flee.)
The 1.7x bonus for a Curve Ball is higher than the 1.5x bonus you get for using a Razz Berry or switching to a Great Ball, and it consumes no resources. It's also cumulative, so if you do use a Razz Berry or Great or Ultra Ball, you still get a 1.7x bonus for curving. It's basically free bonus. All you have to do is get good at throwing it.
Each Pokémon has one or two types, and each type has a medal. Typically, if you catch 10 of the same type, you get a bronze medal. Catch 50, and you get a silver medal. Catch 200, and you get a gold medal. Why bother? Bronze medal earns you an extra 1.1x bonus for catching Pokémon. Silver gets you a 1.2x bonus and gold gets you 1.3x. It's not as high as a Curve Ball bonus, but it's also effortless once you have it. And any bonus you get to catching that Dragonite might matter!
Bonuses stack together, so if you use a Razz Berry then throw a Curve Ultra Ball at a Pokémon you have Gold Medal for, and hit the Excellent Bonus, you catch rate multiplies through the roof.
- Poké Ball: x1.
- Curve Poké Ball: x1.7.
- Curve Ultra Ball: x3.4.
- Curve Ultra Ball + Razz Berry: x5.1.
- Curve Ultra Ball + Razz Berry + Excellent: x10.2.
- Curve Ultra Ball + Razz Berry + Excellent + Gold Medal: x13.26.
Golden Razz Berry raises the catch rate even higher, and after a few Raids you'll have plenty. Don't be shy to use them on the Pokémon that mean the most to you.
When you a see a Pokémon on your catch screen you also see the CP (Combat Power) of that Pokémon. If the CP is low we tend to think the level is low, making it easier to catch. But CP doesn't just depend on level, it also depends on stats (IV).
So, a Pokémon with low CP could be a low-level Pokémon with good stats... or it could also be a high-level Pokémon with lousy stats that's super hard to catch.
In other words, if a low CP Pokémon has a red or orange ring around it and keeps escaping your Poké Ball, odds are it's a lousy Pokémon that just happens to be high level and may not be worth your continued time and resources to catch.
Catching: Set your circle size
Once you get the hang of hitting Great or even Excelllent throws, you can up your odds by setting the circle size so it's ready when you want to throw.
- Touch and hold the Poké Ball until the target circle shrinks down to Excellent size.
- Wait until the Pokémon starts to attack.
- Spin the Poké Ball so you can curve it.
- As the Pokémon gets to about 3/4 through its attack, throw the curve ball as close to dead center as you can.
The target circle will remain the same size you set, so if you hit it correctly, you'll score the Excellent throw and associated bonus.
Maxing: Catch 'em all, seriously
You may be tempted to ignore more common Pokémon, or Pokémon you already, have for rare Pokémon and the ones you still need to complete your Pokédex. Don't. If you have enough Poké Balls, there's more than enough reason to keep catching the more common or already registered Pokémon.
Pidgey, Caterpie, and Weedle only require 12 candies to evolve. So, basically, you want to catch as many as possible to get as much candy as possible, then drop a Lucky Egg and evolve them all at once to get as much XP as possible. It's called grinding and it's a huge accelerator when it comes to leveling up.
None of the Gen 2 Pokémon are at the same 12 candy level, so while you can catch Sentrat, Hoothoot, and the rest, they're more like Rattata — a slower grind. Still, grab 'em if you need 'em.
If you're swimming in Lucky Eggs, and you have a Pokemon Go Plus, you can even drop an egg and then go to place with a ton of spawns, like a big mall parking lot. Each catch will net you 300 XP, each miss 50 XP, and it'll add up fast. Almost as fast as mass-evolving.
With the new Gym system you no longer get the 500 Stardust per Gym, per day, for your Defenders Bonus. So, if that's what you were used to, you'll need to make up the difference somehow. Feeding Berries is both slow (20 stardust per better) and resource draining (you lose the berries). Catching as many Pokémon as possible, on the other hand, is faster (100 stardust per catch) and means you have as much Stardust as possible to power up.
Drop a Star Piece before you start, and you'll get 1.5x as you go. And since you're catching for XP anyway, it's a great way to double-dip.
Once upon a time you had to wish for rare hatches or chase down nests to get the candy you needed to evolve and power up your Pokémon. Now there's rare candy. Sure, you can still hatch and catch your way to a lot of candy but, rare candy can be used as any candy.
Hatch all the eggs you can, catch all the Pokémon you can, and Raid when you can, and you'll have all the candy you need.
Hatching: Eek the most out of Eggs
There are two kinds of eggs in Pokémon Go: Pokémon Eggs that hatch Pokémon and Lucky Eggs that double the XP you get for catching and hatching Pokémon and performing other in-game actions. Pokémon Eggs are free and you can only get them from spinning PokéStops. You can buy Lucky Eggs but you also get them as rewards for hitting some levels.
Regardless of the kind of egg you have, you want to get the most out of it.
Incubators are one of the very few things I'll pay for if I need to. Sure, you'll get a lot of common Pokémon, but you'll also get some rare Pokémon that would take you a long time to catch in the wild, and it's currently the only way to get the Gen 2 and Gen 3 Pokémon babies.
If you have a Lucky Egg, a bunch of Pidgey, Caterpie, Weedle, and Rattata you want to mass-evolve for leveling, and a slew of Pokémon Eggs available to hatch, start your 10 KM eggs incubating. When you get to 5 KM on them, start your 5 KM eggs incubating. When you get to 8 KM / 3 KM, start your 2 KM eggs incubating.
When they're about to hatch, drop your Lucky Egg and start your mass evolution. You can do one evolution every 20 seconds, so if you have enough Pokémon and enough candy, you can really make an XP dent. (Some people like force-quitting each evolution to speed up the process — your mileage may vary.)
If you can time your daily PokéStop spin bonus (see below) — or better, your weekly spin bonus — all the better. And if you happen to hatch something new, your Pokédex bonus will get doubled as well!
If you go to a new part of town, or a new town, you can also hit a ton of new PokéStops in a row. Each one of those will net you 250 XP — 500 XP with a Lucky egg. City centers can have dozens of PokéStops down a single street, which can mean massive XP hauls.
When everything comes together, you can not only get some new Pokémon, candy and Stardust to evolve more great Pokémon, and a huge amount of XP towards your next level.
Evolving: Measure twice, tap once
I know the feeling. You finally have the 25 candies you need to evolve Larvitar to Pupitar or Dratini to Dragonair. But then those 25 candies are gone and you need to hatch, catch, or Buddy walk another 100 candy to evolve Tyranitar or Dragonite.
And during that long, long span of time, you might just hatch or catch a better Larvitar or Dragonair. Or get one from a Raid Battle!
If all you care about is finishing your Pokédex, it may not matter to you. But if you care about getting the best Pokémon possible, ones with the highest stats (IV) and HP (Hit Points) to attack in Raids or defend Gyms — or just show off! — then you'll need the best base levels to evolve from.
Hard as it may be, wait until you have the full 125 candies to evolve completely before doing any evolutions at all. Then, if you get a higher IV base Pokémon, you can evolve that one instead. Or, if you get a third evolution by capturing a Raid Boss, and it's perfect or near perfect, you can save yourself evolving and spend those 125 Candies powering up.
Remember how you could evolve your first Flareon, Jolteon, or Vaporeon by naming your choice Eevee after the original cartoon trainers, Pyro, Sparky, or Rainer respectively?
Well, the same trick works for the Gen 2 Umbreon and Espeon. Just use:
- Sakura for Espeon
- Tamao for Umbreon
If you want more Espeon or Umbreon, you have to make an Eevee your Buddy, walk 10 KM with it, then evolve during the day (Espeon) or at night (Umbreon) while it's still your Buddy.
Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee have a new base form in Pokémon Go Gen 2 named Tyrogue. If you had Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan before, their Candy has now been merged into Tyrogue Candy and you can use it to evolve any future Tyrogue you catch or hatch into any of the Hitmon.
The type of Hitmon you get from evolving Tyrogue depends on your Tyrogue's stats:
- Hitmonlee when Attack is the highest stat.
- Himonchan when Defense is the highest stat.
- Hitmontops when HP is the highest stat.
Evolution Items are items that trigger new or newly split evolutions. You collect them from PokéStops, like you do Pokémon Eggs, and use them to unlock the new Gen 2 evolutions and splits.
- Sun Stone: Evolve Gloom to Bellossum (and Gen 2 Sunkern into Sunflora).
- Kings Rock: Evolve Poliwhirl to Politoed, Slowpoke to Slowking
- Metal Coat: Evolve Onix to Steelix, Scyther to Scizor
- Dragon Scale: Evolve Seadra to Kingdra
- Up Grade: Evolve Porygon to Porygon 2
They're less common than Pokémon Eggs so you'll have to hit a lot of PokéStops to get them. They're also single-use only, which means you'll need to get one for each evolution you want to perform. Yeah.
Right now, you get one — and very rarely more than one — during your 7-day streak spin. You can get them randomly from other spins at any time but the odds seem to be around 1/300. So spin. A lot.
Evolving Wurple into Silcoon or Cascoon is completely up to chance. No trick or easter egg has yet been found to force the evolution one way or another.
In order to evolve a Feebas into a Milotic, you need to make it your Buddy Pokémon and walk it for 20 KM. Oh, and you need 100 Feebas candy as well.
Looping: PokéStops and Bonus Streaks
Pokémon Go encourages you to play regularly by giving you daily and weekly bonuses not just for catching Pokémon but for spinning PokéStops. They're called "streaks". Your first spin of the day will get you extra items and XP. Spin every day and you get an even bigger weekly bonus on the seventh day — including an evolution item.
Also, if you spin ten PokéStops in a row, with no more than ten minutes between each one, you also get extra items. So...
Spin as often as you can. Once you get comfortable with the PokéStops near where you live, work, learn, and play, and along your regular travel routes, spin them whenever possible. It costs you nothing but can significantly boost your stock of Pokémon Eggs (so you can hatch more Pokémon), Poké Balls, Great Balls, Ultra Balls, Razz Berries, Potions, Super Potions, Hyper Potions, Max Potions, Revives, and Max Revives.
To really stock up on items, get a Pokémon Go Plus, put it in PokéStop only mode, and then go somewhere with high-density stops, like downtown. You'll be overflowing in no time.
With the big Gym update, Pokémon Go has added Photo Discs to Gyms. So, now, you can spin those as well. If your team controls the Gym, you get a bonus time. You can also earn Gym badges, from basic to bronze, silver, and gold. The higher you go, the more bonus items you get.
If your team controls a Gym, you have a gold badge, and you spin it for a streak, the number of items you get can really add up. Like 30+ for a 7-day streak.
With the new items, your backpack can run out of space. Rather than trashing items to make space for additional Pokémon and spins, you can use it. More than that, you can let your items lead you and help you to decide what to do while you're out playing.
Have an excess of Balls? Go hunting for Pokémon to catch. (And walk off those extra Pokémon Eggs at the same time!). Too many Potions and Revives weighing you down? Go battle at some Gyms.
Not only is it a great strategy for getting as much free stuff as possible, it helps keep storage open so you never lose out on a Pokémon Egg or anything else you desperately need just because your bag is full of stuff you don't.
General: Play smarter not harder
Pokémon Go has really helped me get out and go. Going for hikes of 5KM or more is a lot more fun when I'm catching and hatching Pokémon along the way. That said, sometimes my schedule or the weather makes it hard to get all those KM in. So, I play smart.
You can leave Pokémon Go on while you're doing housework, shopping, walking the dog, even riding in slow-moving transports like ski lifts, trams, ferries, buses in traffic, and more. Around 10KM is the sweet spot for hatching eggs and walking Buddies, but stop and go can still add up.
If you have an Apple Watch, the Pokémon Go extension can make all of the above even more efficient. It counts steps and can credit you for distance the phone app sometimes misses.
Get a Pokémon Go Plus. Seriously. You can set it to catch Pokémon and/or spin PokéStops. Either or both ways, it can greatly speed up the Pokémon you catch and the items you collect.
Stuck at home or in the office? GPS drift — where your trainer runs around because Pokémon Go can't get an exact fix — can add up to extra KM for hatching eggs or walking your Buddy as well. Even if there's no PokéStop where you are, there might be a spawn point that'll still bring you ample Pokémon to Catch. And you can always drop an Incense, which will bring you a bunch of common Pokémon every few minutes and maybe even one or two more exciting Pokémons.
Gyms are easier to take down now than the use to be. As a result, Gyms are getting taken down more often. So, if you're out and about, it's always worth checking a Gym to see if it has a free slot, or has lost motivation and make for an easy takedown.
Traveling fits right into this as well. I've built up series KM walking through airports, being stuck in cabs and Ubers on the way to hotels, and having my trainer run around while I'm in the hotel. Many big city hotels have multiple PokéStops within range as well, perfect for Lures if you have them. (Likewise coffee shops — warm, safe, and PokéStopped!)
Gen 4: An ounce of preparation...
Pokémon Go Gen 2 has just arrived but it's never too early to start preparing for Gen 4! These are the Pokémon that will be getting new evolutions in the not-so-distant — we hope! — future. Catch more so you're ready when they arrive!
- Magnemite to evolve Magneton into Magnazone.
- Lickitung to evolve into Lickilicky.
- Rhynhorn to evolve into Rhyperior.
- Tangela to evolve into Tangrowth.
- Elekid to evolve Electabuzz into Electivire.
- Magby to evolve Magmar into Magmortar.
- Eevee to evolve into Leafeon and Glaceon (Split).
- Porygon to evolve Porygon2 into Porygon-Z.
- Aipom to evolve into Ambipom.
- Yanma to evolve into Yanmega.
- Murkrow to evolve into Honchkrow.
- Misdreavus to evolve into Mismagius.
- Gligar to evolve into Gliscor.
- Sneasel to evolve into Weavile.
- Swinub to evolve Piloswine into Mamoswine.
- Togetic to evolve into Togekiss
- Ralts to evolve Kirlia into Galade (split)
- Nosepass to evolve into Probopass.
- Roselia to evolve into Roserade.
- Duskull and Duskclops to evolve into Dusknoir.
- Snorut to evolve into Froslass.
So, get those high-stat 'mon and all the candy you can!
Your best Pokémon Go tips and tricks?
These are my Pokémon Go tips and tricks. Others have their tips but these ones are mine. I'd love to learn yours, so if you have any — or you have any questions! — drop them in the comments below!