Strategy guide and photos created by Ryan Pijai
The purpose of Pokemon GO is to catch all of the different types of Pokemon in the game (147 as of the time of this writing).
Catching a Pokemon involves walking around in real life until they pop up on your map and then capturing them with your Poke Balls. Different types of Pokemon tend to hang around different types of areas (i.e. parks, beaches, shopping malls, etc.), so be prepared to travel.
When you capture a Pokemon, there are 3 things you can do with it:
- Power it up level by level to make it incrementally stronger.
- Evolve it into a stronger Pokemon type that is a lot more powerful.
- Fight other Pokemon with it at a Pokemon Gym (after you are at least Level 5).
Although it may be tempting to do these things, you should NOT be doing anything with your Pokemon until you are Level 20 unless you have to. You also should not get too attached to any of your early Pokemon, regardless of how cute they are (hard, I know!). I’ll explain why in the next section.
From Level 1 to Level 20, you should focus purely on leveling up your character.
The reason Powering Up, Evolving, or Fighting at gyms with your Pokemon is not useful early in the game is that your early Pokemon quickly become obsolete. Don’t waste your time or resources on them.
The higher your level, the better the Pokemon you can find and capture are. These Pokemon will be MUCH better than your early ones. In fact, they will be so much better that you shouldn’t worry about powering up any of your Pokemon until you are at least Level 20.
The most important thing for you to do from Level 1 to Level 20 is gain XP as fast as possible.
Useful XP Info:
Here is a breakdown of the main ways you gain XP from lowest to highest:
- Activating a PokeStop gives you 50 XP.
- Catching any Pokemon gives you 100 XP.
- Catching a new type of Pokemon you didn’t have before gives you 500 XP.
- Evolving any Pokemon gives you 500 XP.
- Hatching a Pokemon egg gives you 1000 XP. (more on this later)
There is also an item you can use called a Lucky Egg that doubles your XP gain for 30 minutes. You gain your first Lucky Egg at Level 9, and you will be given 3 more over the course of leveling up before you reach Level 20. Save your Lucky Eggs! I will tell you the best time to use them below.
XP Gaining Strategy from Level 1 to Level 9:
From Level 1 to Level 9, you level up simply by walking around and catching Pokemon.
The way to level up fast during this phase is to catch new Pokemon you have never caught before so that you get 500 XP for each of them. Try to go to 2 or 3 different geographic areas and catch new Pokemon there. Walk around until you notice you are not seeing many new Pokemon in those areas and then move on. I would recommend going to at least one grassy area and one area by the water.
Also be on the lookout for the following common Pokemon, and ALWAYS capture these when you see them regardless of what level you are (I still capture these guys even after reaching Level 20, and I’ll explain why later):
XP Gaining Strategy from Level 9 to Level 20:
After Level 9, you will receive your first Lucky Egg, the item that doubles your XP gain for 30 minutes. You will also start to have trouble finding new Pokemon since you have caught most of them already in the previous phase.
From Level 9 to Level 20, you level up primarily by evolving Pokemon. Every time you evolve a Pokemon, you gain 500 XP regardless of whether or not you have done it before. Repeatedly evolve all of your common Pokemon when you have a Lucky Egg active for massive XP boosts. If you evolve a Pokemon while your Lucky Egg is active, you gain 1000 XP each!
So why did I ask you to always capture Pidgeys, Rattatas, Weedles, and Caterpies in the previous section? The reason is that those types are the easiest to evolve!
Every time you capture a Pokemon, you receive 3 candies that can only be used on that Pokemon type. Most of the Pokemon creatures require 50 candies in order to evolve them. Rattatas, however, only require 25 candies. Pidgeys, Weedles, and Caterpies only require 12 candies! Those 3 are the most efficient Pokemon to evolve.
You can also trade in the Pokemon you evolved for 1 extra candy.
Let’s check out the math!
(Feel free to skip this section if you would rather just take my word for it that Pidgeys are amazing.)
You get 3 candies when you capture a Pidgey. You get 1 candy for trading in the Pidgey after you’ve evolved it. So each Pidgey is effectively worth 4 candies.
It takes 12 candies to evolve a Pidgey. Since each Pidgey is worth 4 candies, you only need to capture 3 Pidgeys in order to have an evolution ready.
An evolution is worth 500 XP, but if you only perform your evolutions when a Lucky Egg is activated, you get double that: 1000 XP.
Since it takes 3 Pidgeys to evolve and you get 1000 XP for evolving each one, each Pidgey is worth approximately 333 XP (1000 XP divided by 3).
You receive 100 XP for capturing any Pokemon. So capturing a Pidgey is effectively worth 100 XP + 333 XP, which is 433 XP!! That’s more than 4 times as much XP as you get for capturing most of other Pokemon creatures out there.
That’s why Pidgeys are the best, and why they are key to rushing you to Level 20!
When should you use your Lucky Eggs?
As a general guideline, you should activate a Lucky Egg only when you have approximately 30 Pokemon ready to evolve. (Before activating a Lucky Egg, I usually mark all of the ones I plan on evolving by favoriting them. This saves me from having to find them later.)
You need about 160K total XP in order to level yourself up from Level 9 to Level 20. There are 4 Lucky Eggs given to you in this stretch, so you need each Lucky Egg to bring in around 40K XP.
Each Pokemon creature evolution is worth 1K XP. If you have 30 evolutions ready before you activate a Lucky Egg, you will gain at least 30K XP during the duration of a Lucky Egg activation. The other 10K XP you need can be gained by doing other things during the 30 minute window.
You should use your Lucky Egg in a location with an active Pokemon Lure, an item that pulls Pokemon to a particular Poke Stop. It’s even better if you can stand within range of multiple Poke Stops with Pokemon Lures on them at the same time. My personal best was finding a location where I could stand within Pokemon-spawning range of 3 lured Poke Stops.
You can also use your Lucky Egg in locations with large concentrations of Poke Stops, and quickly get double XP by walking around and activating each of them in-between catching Pokemon and evolving Pokemon.
The last thing you can do for lots of XP is hatch Pokemon during the Lucky Egg window. In order to hatch a Pokemon, you need to first get eggs by activating Poke Stops (there’s a random chance eggs will drop from each one). Next, you place them inside of Egg Incubators which are given to you as you level up. Then you need to walk around until they are about to hatch. When they are close to hatching, activate your Lucky Egg and walk a bit more to hatch them. You will get at least 2000 XP for each egg you hatch.
What happens after Level 20?
After Level 20, it gets a lot harder to level up. Each new level increases the XP requirements by a significant amount, even though everything in the game still gives you the same amount of XP it was giving you before. So during this phase of the game, the emphasis is no longer on leveling.
For Level 20+, you should focus on hatching eggs. Here’s why:
1. Since you already captured many of the Pokemon types around you, it’s hard to find new Pokemon. You would need to travel to other parts of the country to find them. But with egg hatching, you can randomly get Pokemon creatures that don’t exist anywhere near you!
2. When you find a new Pokemon in the wild, you only get 3 candies with it. Even if you find an awesome rare Pokemon, you won’t be able to Power Up (upgrade it) much since you don’t have enough candies. But when you hatch a 10km egg, you get LOTS of candies and LOTS of Stardust (the other ingredient needed to upgrade Pokemon).
So at Level 20+, your focus should be on catching all the Pokemon. You can do so by being very active and walking around hatching eggs and hoping to get rare ones.
Save up your Stardust and only use it on when you hatch something awesome.
How to speed up egg hatching?
One limiting factor to hatching lots of eggs is that you do not have enough egg incubators. The only way to get additional egg incubators is by spending 150 Poke Coins on them. The only way to get Poke Coins without spending money is by defending gyms.
At level 20, and with rare Pokemon creatures hatching, you should definitely be powerful enough to takeover and defend gyms. For every gym that you have a Pokemon stationed at, you get 500 Stardust and 10 Poke Coins. At max, you can defend up to 10 gyms at once, giving a max daily reward of 5K Stardust and 100 Poke Coins.
The way the gym system works is is that it doesn’t matter how long you hold a gym for. There is a button at the top right of your Shop screen that allows you to cash in your rewards for defending gyms. After you cash out, you have to wait 21 hours before cashing out again.
What you want to do is capture as many gyms in a short period time as possible, cash in the reward, and then forget about them until the next day. Your Pokemon will most likely be dead by the time you are able to cash in rewards again the next day but that’s perfectly fine. Just heal them up with potions and take over gyms all over again.
Use your strongest Pokemon to fight enemy gyms or to raise the prestige of your own gyms, but leave your weaker Pokemons to be stationed there so that you still have Pokemon to fight with at other gyms. I usually leave my 3rd strongest and down to defend.
That’s all the tips I have for Pokemon GO for now. Good luck getting to Level 20 and hatching rare Pokemon!