Pokémon Go 101: Core Concepts and Tips to Better Your Adventure

pokemon go

Posted on July 9th, 2019, 03:24 PM by Terry Kim

Updated on July 17th, 2019, 09:14 PM

A concise, single guide for newer and returning players- settle into the game faster and smoother, without having to read 50 different posts!

There's a lot of things to watch out for when getting started with, or returning to Pokémon GO after a while. Raids, PVP, daily research, special research, and more boggle the mind of such a player. This guide will attempt to explain the "more important" topics and pieces of information in an understandable manner.

General rules to go by


Do anything that is "daily": Engaging in 1 battle with your team leader + 3 battles with a friend each day gives you ~2000 stardust, and chances at rare candy, charged TM, and the precious Sinnoh stone. Make use of the free raid pass given from gyms each day. Try to spin a Pokéstop, catch a Pokémon, and do a field research every day for that streak bonus. Completed field researches can be saved to be opened at a later date, in anticipation of incoming busier days.

Stardust: The bottleneck to most players

In general terms and in most cases, Stardust is the bottleneck, not "rare Pokémon" or candies. As such, the best time to power Pokémon up would be none other time than "when you need to power up a party for a raid you will participate in soon".

How many Pokémon to train battle-ready

"One super strong Pokémon" just doesn't do the trick. If you want to do a Kyogre raid, a level 30 Magnezone will by far outclass a level 40 mewtwo. You need to build a team for each type of raid you want to do, or at least set the moves accordingly.

STAB, Type Relationships, and Weather: Things that can make a Pinsir be the better pick over Dragonite

Same-Type-Attack-Bonus, or STAB, is one of the most critical factors in damage output. A Pokémon using a move of the same type as itself gains a 1.2x multiplier to the damage. This means that a grass Pokémon will be the better grass attacker, until a competing Pokémon has 20% more attack power than the grass Pokémon. This doesn't happen very often, so it is best to leave each move to a Pokémon that has the right type for it.

A "Super effective" attacks, where the move's type is advantageous against the defender's type, does 1.625x the normal damage. A "Not very effective" attack, that occurs when the used move's type is resisted by the defender's type, does 0.625x the damage. Immunities, a concept that exists in the main game series, does not exist in Pokémon GO. Instead, these are calculated as double resistance- with a multiplier of 0.39x to the normal damage. These numbers work multiplicatively, and as such, Sableye (Dark/Ghost) takes 0.63375x the normal damage of a fighting move, as a result of 0.625 * 0.39. It is very important to note the type relationships, so that you use the right type of move and Pokémon.

Weather boosts: Each weather (changes by the hour, at the hour sharp) has its own associated type. Not only do more Pokémon of that weather spawn in the wild, but wild Pokémon (including those from raids, and the raid boss itself) spawn 5 levels higher than usual, and moves of the associated type gain 20% bonus damage. This weather system allows players to capture wild Pokémon of level 35, raid Pokémon of level 25, and utilize the weather to beat a raid boss with less difficulty, and presents more variety into the game, with examples such as Roserade being a higher DPS counter Pokémon for Groudon than Kyogre, in sunny weather.

Consider not levelling your Pokémon beyond 30, at least for now

At Pokémon level 30, a Pokémon has roughly 90% of the capacity it would at level 40, while costing only half stardust to power up from scratch. With 400,000 stardust, for example, you can power up one Kyogre to 40, or two Kyogre to 30. Each level 30 Kyogre will have about 90% of the power of a level 40 one, netting you with approximately 1.8x a level 40 Kyogre.

Eeveelutions, your best friends

Eeveelutions, especially the lure-based ones, are your best friends. While these are not the #1 spot holders, they are often very close in terms of actual performance, without the involvement of community day moves, and with MINIMAL candy cost for an evolution. Leafeon and Glaceon only require 24 candy and one lure (which can be used to evolve as many as you want) to evolve. In contrast, their slightly stronger competitors cost 123 candy + 1 Sinnoh stone (Mamoswine, Roserade, Sneasel).

IVs are not NEARLY as impactful as you think

IVs are not NEARLY as impactful as people tend to think. A 0 and 15 IV difference in Attack (the most important stat, for raids) ranges from 6% to 15% (Low attack Pokémon like Chansey having a 15% gap, while strong Pokémon like Rayquaza have a mere 6% gap). A 70% IV level 30 Machamp may not be worth powering up further, but it would undoubtedly be stronger than a 100% IV level 20 Machamp. Look into "Breakpoints" for deeper analysis, for specific situations where a certain attack IV will result in incremental extra damage against a particular raid boss.

Lay off the power-up button

Lay off that POWER-UP button. You will encounter numerous Pokémon with either really good IVs or in a naturally high level while levelling your trainer level to 30 (when wild Pokémon level peaks). It is much cheaper to evolve a Pokémon that has a high level, than it is to power up a Pokémon that is evolved, but low level. To illustrate, levelling up a Machamp you got from a raid to level 35 will have a roughly equal candy cost with evolving a naturally level 35 Machop, but come with an extra 137k stardust cost. That's enough stardust to fully power-up a lucky Pokémon from scratch! Save your dust for counters to raid bosses that you end up needing direly, or for those potent legendaries that you cannot catch in higher levels from the wild.

Some species are flat out stronger than others

Often, species matters more than level. A level 28 Kyogre, for instance, is as strong as a level 40 Gyarados for general-purpose raids. Don't invest a lot in 'underperformers' and expect to be as efficient as the top performers. Certain Pokémon are objectively better for raids than others. The top performers of each can be found at various websites, such as the ones listed below.

What Pokémon you should hold on to

Hold onto any shiny Pokémon, preferably in their unevolved forms. Often, these have much more value to other trainers than the average legendary. There will be people gladly willing to trade their Giratina for your shiny Magby.

Also, hold onto any "old" Pokémon. Trading an old Pokémon results in a higher-than-usual lucky Pokémon chance, depending on how old it is. A Pokémon from the first two months of Pokémon GO's service will result in a 100% lucky rate when traded.

Make the most out of your caught Pokémon- the lucky Pokémon lottery

There's a chance that any traded Pokémon become a 'Lucky Pokémon', getting a guaranteed minimum IV of 12 in each stat, and having halved stardust cost for power-ups. Find a friend to trade all of your "useful specie, but low IV" Pokémon; Always trade these Pokémon before sending them off to the professor. This would include Machop, Eevee, Larvitar, Dratini, and more. Not only does the process of trading give you a chance at lucky Pokémon, but also it gives an extra candy for the both of you, even if you are unlucky.

The power of having friends

You get a 3% damage bonus in Raids for having a Good Friend with you, a 5% bonus for a Great Friend, 7% for an Ultra Friend, and 10% for a Best Friend. While these bonuses do not stack - with the highest overriding the others, this number is (offensively speaking) almost the equivalent of upgrading your whole team from Level 30 to 40.

The numbers: Why you absolutely must learn to throw a good curveball

Curved ball throws are VERY, VERY important. A curved throw gives a 1.7x multiplier to catch rate. This is a better increase than upgrading your Poké ball to a Great ball, or landing a Great Throw in place of a non-worded throw. As such, curved throws are an indespensable part of catching 5 star raid Pokémon, as their base rates are extremely low, and can only be caught with premier balls.

Multiplier Reference: Curved Ball Throw 1.7x, Razz/Golden Razz Berry 1.5/2.5x, Great/Ultra Ball 1.5/2.0x, Medals 1.1/1.2/1.3x, Nice/Great/Excellent Throws 1.15/1.5/1.85x.

Advanced throwing tricks: Only throwing excellent throws, quick curve-balls, skipping the catch result screen, and even cancelling a throw mid-air

Excellent Throws: Press down on the screen. The aim circle will appear big, shrink, and repeat itself while you hold down your finger. Take your finger off the moment the inner aim circle reticle becomes the size you want it to be (excellent-size, ideally!). Now, wait for the wild/raid boss Pokémon to do its attack animation (This is the animation that prevents the aim reticle from showing up, if you pressed down on the screen). Throw in your best curve-ball, right at the time when the attack animation will finish. The ball will land on the target Pokémon with the target reticle being in the size you left it to be. A video demonstration will soon be added

Quick curve-balls: You don't have to spin the ball in place to throw a curve-ball. Simply throwing in a j-or-b shaped arc, starting from the center heading outwards, will give it a nice curve.

Skipping the catch result screen / Quick catch: This can be tricky to master, but can be rewarding. Start by putting your finger on either of the berry or ball tray buttons. Nudge or drag the button to the side and hold. With a remaining finger or hand, throw the ball as you normally would, and let go of the finger on the tray button. This will open the tray. Once that is done, quickly tap anywhere outside the tray, so that the tray will minimize. You will now see the "RUN" icon on your screen, despite the ball still being thrown. Tapping this button will skip the "wait for ball to stop jiggling, and close the catch result screen" ordeal. A successful throw(RNG as usual, not 100%!) will result in the Pokémon being caught, while an unsuccessful throw will result in the Pokémon still being available in the overworld. This is a tricky technique to master, but can be fruitful in speed-requiring situations such as Community Day events. Note: The nudge-hold can also be performed while the ball is in trajectory, as an alternate method.

Cancelling a throw mid-air / Calling the ball back: This is an advanced technique that builds upon the quick catch technique. Nudge & hold the tray, throw, and if the throw is unsatisfactory, quickly tap on the ball tray again before your throw connects. This will result in a cancelled throw. Note: As this requires the ability to either feed berries or switch balls, this technique is ill-suited to raid boss Pokémon, and would be better for practicing throws or throwing against rare wild Pokémon, such as Gible and its evolutions.

NEW quick catch - Android only: This method makes the former quick catch method close to obsolete for android operating systems. Simply hit the backspace key after throwing the ball. This effectively skips all the unnecessary scenes, without having to go through the hassle of nudging and holding the tray.This trick was patched out mid-July, and no longer works.

More personal tips from Terry

Catch all Machops and Larvitars

Catch all Machops and Larvitars possible; These are your two best, most accessible all-rounders to get you started as a raider. Machamp counters ice, rock, steel, normal and dark, while Tyranitar counters psychic, ghost, flying&ice(to a lesser degree). A lot of raid or gym targets fall within this range. To top it off, both of these Pokémon are very strong, offering a very high DPS, while coming with a nice bulk to help you save revives and lop off seconds on your rejoin timer. Do their raids, and use Pinap berries for the ones with low IVs for more candy. Larvitars can be found time to time, and Machops by the dozen in the wild on cloudy days, so take care to catch every one of these possible. Evolve these high-level Pokémon captured in the wild. IV matters relatively little; Start by building yourself a deck or two of each of these, level 30-35 each. These will take you a long way, and odds are, you won't need a guide to follow by the time you've got yourself a nice team of them.

Friendship overview

Friendship has many benefits in Pokémon GO. Each tier unlocks better benefits. You gain 3000/10000/50000/1000000 EXP for advancing each tier of friendship per friend. You also deal 3%/5%/7%/10% extra damage and gain 0/1/2/4 extra premier balls to throw at raids, for having one or more friend with you. Your trading stardust cost decreases by 0%/20%/92%/96%, and each friend interaction once you become best friends with someone gives a chance to become "lucky friends" with that player. Becoming a lucky friend with a player guarantees the next Pokémon to be traded between the two players to become lucky Pokémon. Each day, your first interaction(PVP battle, trade, raid, gift, gym battle) with your friend counts toward the number of days, advancing the friendship to Good Friends at 1 day, Great Friends at 7, Ultra Friends at 30, and Best Friends at 90 days.

Starting at Ultra Friends, you can battle your friend remotely, and can invite them to join you on an EX raid you earned a pass for.

When you want a legendary you don't have

Low IV legendaries are often worth very little to players that have played through that raid season. People will be glad to give you a couple of legendaries for a random shiny Pokémon, or even for nothing at all, if they're generous. Add seasoned players that you run into a lot to your friend list, and try asking them nicely once you're ultra friends or above (remember, trading cost incurs on both ends!)

Squeeze more out of all rewards

All 'extra' rewards can be lucky-egged and star-pieced for more gain (even Adventure Sync Rewards and Research Breakthroughs!). Coordinate in advance, and try to trigger Friendship level rewards, research rewards (field & special), raid rewards, and possibly PvP / Pokémon Evolution rewards while the egg is active, for an optimized use of the lucky egg / star piece.

Join a local chatroom

Join a local discord or chatroom. These are the people you will need to coordinate with, especially when doing higher difficulty raids, or as a newcomer to the game. They can also help you greatly in getting settled into the game.

Are "Tier 1" Pokémon worth dying for? No. Not really.

"Tier 1" is undoubtedly the best for a given purpose, but other Pokémon often offer similar capabilities. Don't stress yourself over not having a Raikou - a Magnezone does the job almost as well, and may even have an edge in certain situations (i.e. Blizzard Kyogre). Look for readily accessible alternatives, such as the Eevelutions. It's certainly much better to have a complete team of "Tier 2 counters", than an incomplete party of "Tier 1's".

Don't forget about Adventure Sync; That 50km reward..

Walk that 50km a week. It's candy, egg hatch, and bonus items & stardust, in a sizable amount! And don't forget to use a star piece at 8:59 am Monday, or as soon as you log in!

Note: Your game turns off Adventure Sync each time the account is logged off, for whatever reasons. If you had to log in again, check your Adventure Sync status.

Random, seemingly worthless Pokémon that you will need later

Keep your Grimer, and Pinap the Magikarp, Oddish, Sunkern(and all of their evolutions) that you run into. They will come up in your field research at some point as an evolution task.

Value of Trainer Levels beyond 30: VERY LOW

Trainer level means very little past 30, provided that you don't power up Pokémon past that point yet. If you ever face a situation where you have to make a choice between lucky eggs and anything else, it's usually the better choice to forego the EXP. After all, a level 40 Pokémon is only about 10% stronger than a level 30 one.

A take on Friendships as a means to gain experience points

Optimizing Friendship level Exp gain is a very cheap and relatively fast form of levelling; Getting a group of 20 accounts to gift each other every day will yield a total of 2 million Exp in one month, and an extra 4 million Exp two months after that. Add a lucky egg, and the numbers are doubled. There are ways to increase the number of friends you can do this with each day- by interacting with them directly in raids, gyms, or trades, but this method can definitely feel like "arduous work", rather than gameplay.

How to win in PVP against your friends: a basic guide

There are a few easy tips.

  • Let go of the notion that your strong raiders or gym attackers will be good in PVP. PVE and PVP performance have no correlation.
  • Attack holds the lowest value in terms of IV, behind Defense and HP(stamina). A perfect Azumarill will have 8/15/15, not 15/x/x, for example.
  • You will want to optimize your Pokémon for the league / rule you compete under. A lucky Lucario will have its place in the Hyper League, but not the Great League.
  • Leads, Walls, and Closers. You will likely want to start with a Pokémon that can pressure the enemy to use shields (capable of putting out charge moves quickly, with a decent coverage), and close with one that wrecks unshielded opponents. As defensive Pokémon often prevail against more offensive Pokémon, a wall will often be useful to stall and eliminate enemy Pokémon of type advantage.
  • Refer to PVP websites. They can offer quick info on what's currently considered meta.
  • Grant your baby(hatched) Pokémon that extra new move before you evolve it: costs skyrocket after evolution
  • Note though: PVP is fairly expensive in stardust, costing rougly 300k (75k move + 225k power up) per maxed-out mons. Alternatives are using mons that are effective, but max out on the CP at a lower Pokémon level, like Altaria or Lucario.

Useful Links

Calcy IV (Android)

Offers most functions that a trainer will need, ranging from simple IV scans and storage, optimal move calculation, to Raid party recommendations / outcome projections.

PokeGenie(Android, IOS)

Offers less functions than Calcy IV, but is available on more platforms.

Pokébattler (Web)

Provides optimal counters for each Raid boss, based on each condition set by the user. Very informative, and a great tool in preparing for an upcoming (or recurring) raid.

Thesilphroad (Web)

A research-oriented site that brings quite a bit of insight to unaware readers.

Discord / Local Chat app

Pokémon GO is a community game. There's a clear limit to what you can do alone. You will undoubtedly benefit greatly from interacting with your neighbors. These are the people that will call out that 100% IV Gible in the neighborhood park, and the ones that will help fill spots in EX raids. The community, in most cases, is more helpful an entity than all the other tools combined.