Image credit: Yoshikazua TAKADA/Flickr

Pokémon Go: The Expert Guide

So you know how to catch a Pokémon, what a Pokéstop stop is and the exciting possibilities of the Pokégym. You understand that the pink petals pouring out of a Pokéstop mean someone has put a lure down and you’re aware that the more walking you do, the more ‘egg miles’ you clock up for your little incubating Poképals. It’s a fantastic start, but do you wonder how on earth people have reached level 20-something and have big, bad Pokémon you’ve never even heard of, let alone caught? 

If so, then allow me to impart what I have learned about Pokémon Go over the long summer break; partly to make me feel less bad about prioritising pokéwalks over course reading, but mostly to get you well on your way to earning that Pokémaster title!

XP, Candies and Stardust

You’ll have noticed that every time you catch a Pokémon you’re presented with a dialogue box detailing the XP (‘experience points’) that you’ve received as a result. XP is what you need to progress and level up in this game, and everything you do on the app is in the pursuit of XP; spinning Pokéstops, battling at gyms and, of course, catching Pokémon.

The more XP you get, the quicker you climb through the levels and the stronger the Pokémon you encounter will be. A standard throw when catching a Pokémon will get you 100 XP; if you throw a ‘Nice’, ‘Great’ or ‘Excellent’ shot you get even more XP and there’s more still if you catch the little chappie with a curve ball.

You’ll also notice that you receive 3 candies of that Pokémon type and a little vial of 100 Stardust after catching a Pokémon. The candies are the only way you’ll be able to evolve your Pokémon, so have a look in the Pokemon’s profile to see how many candies you’ll need to evolve it. The Stardust is exclusively for ‘powering up’ your chosen Pokémon by enhancing its CP.


Gotta get that sweet, sweet candy. Image credit: MIKI Yoshihito/Flickr

Combat Power or ‘CP’

CP is kind of a big deal. The clue is the fact that, when you spot a Pokémon in the wild, it’s the only detail shown. As you climb the levels, the CP that appears alongside Pokémon on the catch screen basically determines if it’s worth your time or not.

Every individual Pokémon has its own CP, and this is calculated by three key things; its base stats, the Pokémon’s Individual or Internal Value (IV) and its level. Base stats are fixed for every species and refer to the species’ ability to attack (deal damage in battle), defend (receive less damage in battle) and its Health Points (HP); a figure detailed on the Pokémon profile. Internal Values, contrarily, vary for all Pokémon, as do levels. A Pokémon’s level can be seen at a glance on their profile on the big ‘CP arch’ at the top. The further around the little white dot is on the arch, the higher the Pokémon’s level. Evolving a Pokémon with a ‘full arch’ ensures the strongest possible evolution… but IVs are still a big factor and there is an easy way of seeing how strong your Pokémon is as a unique individual.


Who needs CP when you’ve got legendaries? Image Credit: Happy Come/Flickr


The appraisal function is a recent update that involves a cartoon Poké-expert telling you how good you Pokémon really is. As I said, CP is made up of base stats, IV and level. You could have a Pokémon whose species has strong base stats, for example Arcanine, but the cartoon could very politely inform you that your Poképal’s IVs are basically crap and he’s going to die a grizzly death in the arena. Depending on whether you’re team Valor (red), team Mystic (blue) or team Instinct (yellow), your cartoon appraiser will have a slightly different script that informs you of the value of your Pokémon. For example, for team Valor the appraisal script means as follows:

“Your (Pokémon name) simply amazes me. It can accomplish anything!” – KEEP IT, EVOLVE IT AND NEVER LET GO OF IT.

“Your (Pokémon name) is a strong Pokémon. You should be proud!” – the Pokémon Go equivalent of a 4* review, hold onto this Pokémon.

“Your (Pokémon name) is a decent Pokémon” – meh.

“your (Pokémon name) may not be great in battle, but I still like it!” – they’re being awfully polite, but this Pokémon is utter shite.

If you want to check out the appraisal scripts for the other teams, has all of the answers and stats you could possibly need! So what do you do with this information? Personally, I like to keep at least one of every Pokémon I’ve caught, but with the ones where I’ve caught more than one I work out which is the strongest overall by the three factors mentioned above and transfer the other(s) to the fictional professor. You can do this by going onto the Pokémon’s profile, clicking on the bottom right button and selecting ‘Transfer’. This ensures you always have the strongest players to hand and things are kept nice and neat. There are times when you want to hold off transferring and instead build up a collection of one species, however, and that’s when you’re in possession of a ‘Lucky Egg’…


It’s probably safe to say a Marill of this size won’t be getting a good Appraisal. Image Credit: Kai Chan Vong/Flickr


Levelling Up and Evolving

As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about XP; if you’re wanting to ‘level up’, and a great way to get a ton of XP in the space of half an hour is to use a Lucky Egg. Lucky Eggs can be found in your items list along with Revives and Potions to heal your Pokémon post-battle, Razzberrys and Pokeballs to catch them in the first place as well as Lure Modules and Incenses to coax the cool Pokés into your vicinity. You’ll probably first get a Lucky Egg when you reach Level 9, then levels 10 and 15, but when you’re in the wilderness of level 20-something and need that extra push to get to the next level they can be purchased from the Shop with 80 Pokécoins obtained from Pokébattles. Stay with me. A Lucky Egg doubles the amount of XP you get for ANYTHING for 30 minutes. The highest XP can be obtained by evolving. Put the two together and you’re winning, so follow Catherine’s 3-step plan to XP success:

  1. Catch every damn Pidgey, Rattata, Weedle and Caterpie that gets in your way (I’ve also been collecting the abundance of Drowzees and Krabbys available in Leamington).
  2. Do not transfer these bad boys. Review your collection; make sure it’s enough to do at least 30 evolutions.
  3. Drop the Lucky Egg and evolve like mad. Transfer the resulting rubbish evolutions for the extra candy to try and squeeze out one or two more evolutions before your Lucky Egg runs out.

Your XP will jump up dramatically, and so will you. For joy.


All aboard the evolution train. Image credit: Happy Come/Flickr

Nests and spawn sites

Where particular Pokémon pop up is by no means random, and die-hard fans (mainly Americans) have been doing their best to build accurate maps detailing where certain species of Pokémon either occasionally spawn or ‘nest’ (aka they’re always at a particular location).

Ever since the deletion of a Pokémap site that leaked the exact locations and times of Pokémon appearances across the globe, the nerds (I count myself proudly among them) have taken to forums to document when and where they’ve found the most highly sought after species, whilst many towns and cities have a Facebook page dedicated to local sightings. ‘Silph Road’ is a great site for finding local spawns and nests based on player reports and you can narrow down your search to specific geographical areas, particular Pokémon you’re looking for and even only the verified spawns and sightings. I personally lived near a Rhyhorn nest in the summer, making my evolution to a strong Rhydon pretty speedy, while now I’m living in the middle of a thoroughly underwhelming Jynx nest in Leamington Spa. Keep an eye out online for the top spots and enjoy a (safe and daylight) wander in a place you haven’t visited before to see what Pokémon they have to offer; remember that lakes and canals almost always have water-type Pokémon to catch!

When you hear that your Erasmus friend lives near a rare nest. Image credit: othree/Flickr

The Buddy System

One of the reasons why Pokémon Go has developed such a huge fan base is because of the intrigue surrounding the app. Creators Niantic released the app with very little information about how the game works and left it up to people like you and I to explore what can be found, how to calculate the value of what we find and its little hidden Easter Eggs. Arguably the most detailed update from Niantic was the recent introduction of the Buddy System.

Whilst we’ve largely been left to fend for ourselves in this exciting new Pokéworld, we were recently told that, from now on, we can select a Pokémon ‘buddy’ to walk around with us. Whilst the buddy does not appear on the main map page, they can be seen next to your avatar when you select your trainer profile. Much like you walk to clock up those ‘egg miles’ to hatch your incubators, you’ll also be walking to earn the candy of the species you have chosen as your buddy. As with everything this game has to offer, this is another feature that offers the potential to climb higher in the game… but it isn’t about XP. Say you found a wild Ponyta a couple of months ago but haven’t seen another one since. Before, you could safely give up hope of evolving her into a Rapidash short of driving to a far-off Ponyta nest to catch more and collect the resulting candies.

Now, however, you can ‘walk’ with her, collect candy per 1km or 3km (dependent on species) and slowly but surely build up the candies to get that evolution. There’s even a little surprise in store for Pikachu owners who walk with the little guy for more than 10km…


Mudkip longs for the day he can be someone’s buddy. Image Credit: Stefan Schubert/Flickr

Further tips

I hope you’ve found my advice and tips useful in your quest to progress through Pokémon Go and for further guidance, particularly with battling a Pokégym, training to strengthen your team’s gym and Pokémon move sets, I refer you to a fantastic vlogger called ‘Trainer Tips’ who has all of the (often crazily mathematical) answers. I should also leave the disclaimer that whilst this article may have helped you, if you are Team Mystic or Team Instinct I only helped you out of pity, and I will of course see you at the gym where I will destroy you. LONG LIVE VALOR.

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