You’ve tossed a few PokéBalls, caught a few Caterpies, and spun your way to a few items at the PokéStop, but it’s time to take things to the next level. These tips and tricks will help you go from novice trainer to unbeatable gym leader faster than you can spit out the PokéRap.
Swipe the PokéBall Button for Quick Menu Access
The PokéBall icon at the bottom of your screen is used to access most of the in-game menus, like your Pokédex, Items, captured pokémon, and the Shop. You can tap the PokéBall icon and navigate to these menus, or you can look like a pro and get to them with a single swipe. Swipe the PokéBall left to instantly access the Pokémon menu, swipe right to go right into your items, and swipe up to access the shop.
See at a Glance Why a Wild Pokémon Appeared
When a wild pokémon pops up out of the bushes, look at the tiny rings surrounding it. If the rings are white, the pokémon was there naturally. If the rings are a purple-y pink color, it showed up because of a nearby lure module. If the rings are replaced by a pink cloud circling the pokémon, that means it was attracted to your Incense item and only you can see it.
Noticing the different rings will help you develop a feel for finding more pokémon in your area, and it’s nice for when you’re playing with friends. You’ll know not to shout “Squirtle!” when you see the incense ring and start an unnecessary stampede.
Increase Your Chances of Catching Pokémon, and Earn More XP
It might seem easy at first, but catching pokémon gets harder as you level up. You start running into stronger pokémon, and your once-massive stash of PokéBalls will start to dwindle if you don’t learn the ins and outs of the perfect throw. When you see a pokémon appear, tap it on your screen, then move to a spot where you’re safe and out of the way. Once you’ve started an encounter, the pokémon will stay on your screen until you either catch it or runs away because of too many failed attempts.
When the encounter starts, you’ll notice a white circle around it. That’s the target you have to hit for your PokéBall to work at all. Inside the white circle, however, is a constantly-shrinking, colored circle (more on that later) that tells you how difficult it will be to catch the pokémon. Your goal is to toss your PokéBall and hit the inside of the shrinking, colored circle. Doing so will grant you more experience points (XP) depending on the size of said circle:
- A “Nice!” toss happens when you get it inside the colored circle while it’s fairly large, and will grant you an additional 10 XP if you make the catch.
- A “Great!” toss happens when the colored circle is about half the size of the white circle, and will grant you an additional 50 XP.
- An “Excellent!” toss happens when the colored circle is very small, and will grant you an additional 100 XP.
Not only do good throws give you some extra XP, some resourceful redditors who have datamined the Pokémon Go app suggest good throws may also increase the chances of catching the pokémon. They also suggest throwing a curveball increases your chances as well, in addition to the 10 XP bonus it provides. To throw a curveball, you just hold your finger on the PokéBall, spin it around, then toss. If you’re having a hard time hitting the pokémon, turn off the AR so it stays still in one place. This also helps you save a ton of battery.
Those XP bonuses may not seem like much on their own, but they make a huge difference over time, especially if you have an item like the Lucky Egg activated, which doubles XP gained for 30 minutes. A good toss and Lucky Egg can turn an encounter with a common pokémon like Pidgey—which would normally only net you 100 XP—into a much more profitable catch. Not only would you get 200 XP for the catch, but an “Excellent!” toss and curveball bonus would add another 220 XP, making that little Pidgey worth 420 XP. It’s almost as much as the bonus for catching it for the first time.
As mentioned earlier, though, some pokémon are much harder to catch, and it all depends on the color of their shrinking circle. Red means very hard, orange means hard, yellow means moderate, and green means easy. For red, orange, and yellow pokémon, a few items will help ensure you make your catch. Razzberrys will lower the difficulty of catching a pokémon by one color, but they are only good for one attempt. If the pokémon breaks free, you’ll need to use another. Using GreatBalls or UltraBalls will increase your chances as well, but you have a much more limited supply, so save them for the really tough pokémon.
Optimize Your Pokémon Training and Evolving
The value of an individual pokémon depends on a few things: your trainer level, its combat power (CP) when you found it, and its move set. Generally, you only want to keep the pokémon with the highest CP and transfer the rest to Professor Willow in exchange for candies you can use to evolve your best pokémon (here’s a breakdown of how many candies each type of pokémon needs to evolve). Once they’re evolved, you can worry about powering them up with stardust. Here’s an example:
You find two Charmanders, one with a CP of 230, and another with a CP of 450. You keep the Charmander with 450 CP (maybe tag it with a favorite star so you know it’s your best), then transfer the other Charmander to the Professor to get a Charmander candy. You don’t power up the Charmander you kept, but wait until you have enough candies to evolve it into a Charmeleon. Again, you don’t power it up, but wait until you have enough candies to evolve it into its final form, Charizard. Only then do you begin to use the stardust you saved to power up your Charizard.
If you want to find pokémon with higher CPs, you need to increase your trainer level. Niantic, Pokémon Go’s developers, have been very quiet about how CP works, so here are a few more things you might want to know about it:
- All pokémon of a certain type have the same maximum CP, regardless of what their CP was when you caught them. Basically, a 100 CP Charmander and 450 CP Charmander have the same maximum potential, and that is determined by your trainer level. It’s still best to keep the higher CP one, though, because you’ll save yourself resources powering it up in the long run.
- Some species of pokémon have a higher maximum CP than others.
- If your trainer level increases, the maximum CP of all your pokémon increases. That means the pokémon that belong to a trainer at level 20 all have a higher CP cap than those that belong to a trainer at level 10.
- Evolving a pokémon will raise their current and maximum CP, but the percentage trained will remain the same. For example, a 20 CP Pidgey with a max of 100 might evolve into a 40 CP Pidgeotto with a max of 200—it stays at 20%.
A good rule of thumb to follow is don’t evolve a pokémon that didn’t have a red ring when you caught it. But say you have two Charmanders that both have high CPs. Which do you evolve? If you’re planning on battling with one of them, look at their move sets. It’s best to have a pokémon with two different types of attacks. In Charmander’s case, a version with Scratch (Normal type) and Flamethrower (Fire type) is more ideal than a Charmander that has two Fire type moves. That said, if you want to train some seriously strong pokémon, the best thing you can do is raise your trainer level as fast as possible. It’s better if you don’t waste your resources on powering up the pokémon you find early on in the game. This is especially important with stardust, as it becomes a much rarer resource the longer you play. Be stingy with your resources and focus on building your trainer level first.
Boost Your Trainer Level Quickly With the Lucky Egg Trick
You can level up a lot faster by saving a ton of weak pokémon to evolve when you have a Lucky Egg activated and doubling your XP gain. So, catch a bunch of Pidgeys, Rattatas, etc., and build up a stash of candies. Now activate a Lucky Egg, then start evolving them all. You’ll get 1000 XP for every evolution instead of the standard 500 XP.
Pro tip: don’t evolve Pidgeottos into Pidgeots while you do this! Evolving four Pidgeys into Pidgeottos will cost you 48 candies and net you 4000 XP with a Lucky Egg activated, but just one Pidgeot will cost you 50 candies and only get you 1000 XP with a Lucky Egg. Do the math before you undo all your hard work. Also, Nick Steinberg at Goliath points out that you can battle with pokémon and wear them out before you evolve them. Go fight at an enemy gym with some pokémon and they’ll be returned to full health once they’re evolved.
Track Pokémon and Use Tools to Find the Ones You Don’t Have
Tracking pokémon isn’t an exact science, so there’s no way to guarantee the finding and capturing of anything. Still, the video above from the GameXplain YouTube channel recommends a few tips that make it a little easier:
- Three paw prints means the pokémon is within a kilometer of your location. Two paw prints means the pokémon is 100 meters away, and one paw print means the pokémon is just 10 meters away (these distances are not yet confirmed, but highly likely). If you see no paw prints, you’re practically on top of that pokémon’s location.
- Don’t select a single pokémon to track. Keep the entire tracking tab open so you can see pokémon change order based on their location nearby. Pokémon in the top left are the closest to you, and the ones in the bottom right are the farthest away.
- Choose a pokémon you want to track on the list, then pick a direction. Watch to see if it’s position or paw prints change. If it moves down the list or gets more paw prints, you went the wrong way.