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Pokémon Go: The guide that will take you from zero to hero

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This is the part where I begin by informing you that there is this game that has skyrocketed to the top of the app store. I cite some facts about the number of players all across the world, how much money the game has grossed since its release and how this big, really big. But that’s not really necessary is it? Anything as big as Pokémon Go doesn’t really need that kind of introductory justification.

Let’s just jump into this Pokémon Go guide that will take you from being a Pokémon looser to Pokémon cruiser in no time at all. The first section of this article will start with the basic premise of how to play the game. Players who are already off and running with game play can choose to skip to the second part of this article where we go through a double handful of great Pokémon tips and tricks to get you scoring with the best of them.

The basic premise of the game

Pokemon avatar

You are a trainer. Your job is to capture and train Pokémon. These Pokémon will later do battle over possession of gyms. Your avatar will advance by accumulating experience points (XP). Experience points are awarded for things like capturing and evolving Pokémon, winning battles and a number of other things. Since it is your job to get your captured Pokémon ready for battle, you need to be aware that each Pokémon has combat points (CP) and hit points (HP). Combat points allow a Pokémon to inflict more damage while hit points enable a Pokémon to take blows. You can beef up your trainee’s CP and HP by feeding them stardust and candy or evolving them. This is all part of getting them ready to do battle.

How to Catch a Pokémon

Catch a Pokemon

You can’t beef up and train any Pokémon if you haven't captured any in the first place. Here is how to bag the little fellows:

  • Once you are close to a Pokémon, throw a Pokéball at it. These Pokéballs are designed to capture your future trainee and hold it inside. To throw a ball, grab it from the bottom of your screen and flick it at the Pokémon with your finger. Be sure to check the “tips” section for ways to throw a Pokéball with a little style and scoop up additional points in the process.
  • When you capture a Pokémon, you will receive stardust and candy. The type of candy you get depends on the type of Pokémon you catch. This stardust and candy will be used to upgrade Pokémon in the future.

Beef up your Pokémon

Since it is your job to get these Pokémon ready for battle, you will want to strengthen them as much as possible. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Give your Pokémon a power up by feeding it stardust and its particular kind of candy. This will increase its CP (HP seems to increase pretty much in step as well). Note that each Pokémon will have a maximum capacity for CP. It’s better to invest your resources in Pokémon that have a high CP capacity. This kind of information can be viewed on each Pokémon’s detail page
  • Evolve your Pokémon by feeding it a large amount of its type of candy. This will often take a lot of candy. Your Pokémon will gain CP and you will gain XP when you evolve a Pokémon.

Beef up your own XP points

As a trainer, your experience points are pretty important. Higher XP will allow you to capture more powerful Pokémon. Useful items also get unlocked as you progress through higher levels in the game. For example, at level eight, Razz Berries will help you entice hard to capture Pokémon.

You can gain XP by doing a number of different things:

  • Capture a Pokémon
  • Hatch eggs
  • Discover a new Pokémon
  • Take your Pokémon into battle at a gym (This includes training battles as well as combat with rivals)
  • Visit a Pokéspot
  • Evolve a Pokémon

Items you can use

Item list

In your quest for true cosmic pokéness, there are a few items that will help you along your way:

  • As mentioned before, Pokéballs are the tool you will use to catch Pokémon. Once you get to level eleven, you will begin to acquire “great” and “ultra” Pokéballs. These are better at capturing wild or rare Pokémon that may be able to escape from normal Pokéballs.
  • Incense will coax a Pokémon out from hiding.
  • Lures will attract Pokémon much like incense, but are more effective. Keep in mind that other people can see an active lure. You will recognize an active lure by the pink petals that flutter around that spot.
  • Eggs can be obtained from Pokéstops or the online store.These are placed in an incubator. The egg will hatch once you have walked the distance listed on the incubator.
  • Lucky eggs will give you a 30 minute window to earn double XP on all of the things that you do. Plan ahead and use these wisely.
  • A “revive module” (available at level five) will allow you to revive a Pokémon who has fainted.
  • A “potion module” (also available at level five) will add HP to a Pokémon.



Look at the virtual reality map on your phone. If you see blue squares floating above the scenery, these are Pokéstops. You can obtain all kinds of goodies at a Pokéstop.

  • As you get close enough to interact with a Pokestop, its shape will change.
  • Touch the Pokéstop to interact with it.
  • To generate whatever goodies this Pokéstop will give you, swipe to spin it.
  • Out pops things like Pokéballs and stardust. Pick these up by tapping or swiping them.
  • Once you have collected your loot, the Pokéstop will turn a different color. It will later revert back to blue. This indicates that you could go get more items if you want.


Pokemon_ What a gym looks like

Gyms look similar to a skyscraper. They will often have a Pokémon at the top. Once you get to level five, you are then allowed to enter and join gyms. When you enter your first gym, you will be asked to become a part of one of the three teams. If a gym is grey in color, it has not been claimed by a team yet. There are three main things you can do with gyms:

  • Train your Pokémon at a friendly gym by doing training battles with Pokémon from your own team.
  • Defend the gym by leaving one of your Pokémon with the gym.
  • Attack rival gyms.

The three teams that are available for joining are:

  • “Instinct” team is yellow.
  • “Mystic” team is blue.
  • “Valor” team is red.

Prestige points

Gyms accumulate prestige points. This is how the strength of a gym is primarily measured. A gym with lots of prestige points will be hard to defeat and take over. While winning battles will give your avatar XP points, a gym receives these important prestige points when its members win battles. This even applies to training battles fought within the same team.

Taking over a rival gym requires you to successfully do battle and reduce that gym’s prestige points down to zero. Once this is accomplished, the color of the gym will revert back to grey. Place one of your own Pokémon in the gym to claim a grey colored gym.

Gym levels

Gyms also have an assigned level. This level denotes how many Pokémon are allowed to defend that gym. For example: A gym at level four can use four Pokémon to defend it. Increase your gym’s level by winning battles.

Pokemon Battle at gym

Battles take place at gyms

Engage rival Pokémon in combat to gain XP for yourself and level points for your team’s gym. When squaring off against another Pokémon, you will need to be both quick and clever.

  • One tap on your screen will execute your Pokémon’s standard move. Each Pokémon has assigned standard moves.
  • Pokémon are also capable of a special move. During combat, these special moves must be “charged up” before you can use them. Look just below your HP reading at the blue bar to see if you have enough of a charge to execute a special move. When you are ready to spring that killer move, long press on your screen.
  • Be sure to pay attention to the kinds of moves that your own Pokémon and your opponent's Pokémon are capable of. Although more CP and HP definitely will give a Pokémon the advantage in combat, some moves work better against different types of Pokémon. For example, water will work well against fire in battle. For more information on these important details, see the tips and tricks section of this article.
  • To dodge attacks, swipe side to side on your screen.
  • When a Pokémon loses all of its HP, it will faint. At this point, if there are more defenders available, the Pokémon who has fainted in battle will be replaced with another one.

Tips and tricks

After nailing the basics of the game, put these handy tricks to use and transform yourself into a Pokémaster!

  • At the beginning of the game, you will choose your initial companion. A lot of people think that there are just three choices here. There is actually a fourth choice. To choose a Pikachu, just ignore the three choices offered to you. After doing this four times, you will notice that a Pikachu will appear along with the other three choices.
  • Throw a curve ball to get more capture points. Instead of just flicking the Pokéball, hold the ball and swirl it in little circles before throwing it at the Pokémon.
  • Hold the ball. If you touch and hold the Pokéball, a set of rings will appear on the Pokémon to show you where you have to toss the ball to capture it.
  • Pokemon Look for the ringsWatch the ring color. Notice that one of the rings on a Pokémon will be green, yellow or red. This gives you a quick hint as to how difficult this Pokémon will be to capture. Green is the easiest while red is the hardest. Also note that the rings will be smaller on harder to catch Pokémon.
  • Get an accuracy bonus. Using the above mentioned rings, hit the Pokémon on target when the pulsating ring is the smallest to get an accuracy bonus.
  • Grab some Pokécoins by training in a gym. You can also grab coins in the online store.
  • Use your special moves wisely. You may be inclined to fire off one special move after the other during combat. This is actually a bad idea. Keep in mind that you will be vulnerable right after executing a special move. You will not be able to dodge for a few seconds after using a special.
  • Turn off augmented reality (AR). While the AR is a part of the whole experience, you may be able to hit Pokémon with a ball better if AR is turned off. This places the Pokémon at the center of your screen.
  • Use the different types of Pokémon in combat effectively. Grab a bowl of pork rinds and look over this chart showing different types of Pokémon and what types they are most effective against in battle.
    Pokemon types and effectiveness in battle
  • Watch for green fluttering leaves. They indicate that a Pokémon may spawn there shortly.
  • Parking lots seem to have a lot of Pokémon spawning in them.
  • A Razz Berry will lull a hard to capture Pokémon into sticking around. If you throw a Pokéball and miss or the Pokémon escapes, try tossing it a Razz Berry. It may stick around.
  • Use your stardust on higher level Pokémon who are worthy of the investment.
  • Timing is important when using your lucky eggs. Pop a lucky right before evolving a Pokémon and you will get buko XP.
  • Start each battle off by dodging. It will throw your opponent off.
  • Pokemon Nearby menuPoach a gym. If you are quick, you may be able to steal a gym right as one team drives the gym’s prestige points down to zero. You effectively cash in on another team’s hard won victory. Alternatively, you may be able to grab a gym that you just lost in combat if you are quicker than your opponent. Simply drop a Pokémon in there before anyone else does and gloat out loud at your craftiness.
  • Create a diverse defensive team at your gym rather than populating your force with a bunch of the same, cool Pokémon. This will prepare your gym to defend against attacks from different types of Pokémon.
  • Turn duplicate Pokémon in to Professor Willow and receive a piece of candy.
  • Contributing Pokémon to a gym pays. For every Pokémon you have in a gym, you will receive 500 stardust points and 10 Pokécoins every 24 hours. That’s pretty Pokécool if you ask me.
  • Use your “Nearby” menu to see what Pokémon are nearby. Each Pokémon displayed here will have a number of footprints under them. Three footprints means it is within 300 meters, two footprints means it is within 200 meters and one footprint means the tricky fellow is within 100 meters.
  • Your avatar’s radar will draw most Pokémon out if you are close. This means that if you notice Pokémon in a bank in the middle of the night, you don’t have to go to jail to get it. Wait, and let your radar draw it out.
  • The “Pokédex” will show you detailed information about the Pokémon you have captured and also shows what species you have yet to encounter. Access the Pokédex by tapping the Pokéball on the main screen.
  • Wield the power. Keep in mind that this game is going to suck the battery life right out of your phone faster than a greased Pikachu. Equip yourself with an external power pack to keep on playing like it ain’t no thang.

A word of caution

Now that you are equipped with the tricks and prowess needed to take over the Pokéworld, let me mention some warnings that may or may not be obvious.

  • Do not play Pokémon while driving a vehicle. I know this seems pretty obvious, but I also know that this risky behavior is going to happen anyways and some poor bloke will die in a Pokécrash. Stupid, very stupid.
  • Watch where you are walking when playing Pokémon. Gamers have already ruined their day by stepping off a ledge or into traffic while distracted.
  • Be careful about lures that have been set in secluded locations. It has been reported that some unscrupulous thieves have used lures to get unsuspecting victims isolated. It’s a lot of fun to play with a friend. Why not add to your safety and fun by bringing a friend or two along?


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