Pokemon Go is a lot of fun, but some things about it are really non-obvious. Below we’ve compiled the 10 most important things we wish we’d learned sooner. Read up on these things and you’ll get a jump start as a new Pokemon Go Trainer on your way to catch them all.
1. How Pokemon Spawn
One of the most impenetrable aspects of Pokemon Go is also one of the most fundamental. The whole game is about catching Pokemon, and yet when you first play it it can be incredibly non-obvious how to do that. Past the first few days, the tracker system delivered by Niantec has been garbage – but even beyond tracking it is important to understand where an how Pokemon spawn. Pokemon only spawn at certain exact locations. If you are not near one of these locations, you can literally run a marathon and never see a single Pokemon. For more on tracking Pokemon, check out our guide.
2. Pokestop respawn time
Pokestops are a huge part of Pokemon Go, because its going to take a lot of Pokeballs to “catch ’em all”. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Pokestops are on an extremely short five minute timer. This means there is no need to make a long loop through a group of them. In fact, you can often fill your backpack by just sitting in a spot with two Pokestops close together and spamming them for 20-30 minutes. Pokestops near a restaurant you like are a great fit for this type of Pokestop-spamming.
Pro Tip You don’t need to pop the “bubble” around items you get at a Pokestop. If you hit the “X”, all of those items will automatically go into your backpack.
3. Trainer level effects Pokemon max CP
If you’ve looked around a bit, you’ve probably heard from other sources that the initial Pokemon you find in Pokemon Go are crap. I can not emphasize just how much this is the case. As your Trainer level goes up, the CP of Pokemon you find goes up substantially. Before about level 18 you’ll likely have a pretty hard time getting a Pokemon above 1000 CP even with plenty of expensive Power Ups and Evolutions. After about level 18, you will just find Pokemon that strong. While this obviously means that you shouldn’t go crazy upgrading your early mons, it also means that 2nd and 3rd evo Pokemon (as well as Pokemon with few or no evolutions) can be worth tracking down at higher Trainer levels even if you already have them.
Pro Tip It is even possible to increase the CP of a Pokemon you engage by running away and leveling up and then re-engaging them.
4. Special rules for “walking” credit
In Pokemon Go it is necessary to do a lot of walking. That’s just the nature of the beast if you want to hunt down all those mons, but it is also a requirement for “incubating” Pokemon eggs. You might think that it would be as simple as say… walking, but in fact just like most things in Niantec’s curious implementation of this game concept, the truth is a bit more abstract. The Pokemon Go game client regularly pings back to the Niantec servers every few seconds to establish your position. This position is used to fetch data for things that are near you like Pokemon, Pokestops, and Gyms, but it is also the way Niantec defines movement for egg incubation. This causes a bunch of weird side effects. First of all, if you walk slowly in a path that crosses back on itself, the game will interpret you as standing still and give you no credit towards incubation. To prevent “hyper-incubating”, Niantec also implements a speed check that will eliminate credit for distance traveled if you are moving faster than a certain rate. This can cause a second artifact where poor GPS signal causes your avatar to bounce around at what the game determines to be “too fast”, causing you to accrue no credit for incubation. It also means that if you are riding a bike, or even running at a decent clip you may not be getting credit for incubation. Your best bet is to turn on WiFi for optimum location detection, and then walk at a reasonable pace in a straight line.
Pro Tip Sometimes when you are inside a building, the game won’t register any movement when you walk. Turning off WiFi in this case can sometimes cause some random motion that gives you at least some credit for movement. Some lazy Poke-hackers have even devised ways to spin or vibrate their device in poor GPS environments to gain slow incremental credit towards egg incubation.
Pro Tip You won’t find us recommending playing Pokemon Go while driving, but playing as a passenger can be fairly doable. Besides just hitting Pokestops, grabbing Pokemon, and even tossing defenders in passing Gyms you can also usually get some walking credit if you are going through parking lots, especially if the route is curvy enough that your straight line speed is pretty slow. Please Trainers, do everyone a solid and double fist with the drivers phone rather than letting them drive distracted.
5. Catching Common Pokemon helps level up later
After playing Pokemon Go for a week or two, you might be pretty damn tired of Ratattas and Pidgeys. These are very common Pokemon, and in truth even the best of them will usually not stand out once you have more rare and powerful alternatives when it comes to Gym battles – but they can be very useful for leveling up. Unwanted Pokemon can be “transferred” to the Professor via the lower left menu on the info screen you see when you tap on them. Doing so will award you 1 candy, to add to the 3 you get for catching them. These candies add up, and for some common Pokemon evolution costs as little as 12 candies. As you climb the levels you’ll occasionally get a “Lucky Egg” which gives you bonus experience for 30 minutes. If you horde the candies you acquire, you can go on an evolution spree for common Pokemon and rack up a ton of experience in a short period of time – without spending precious Stardust.
Pro Tip When you are getting ready to use a Lucky Egg, count out the number of common Pokemon you have and make sure it is enough to match the number of evolutions you have candies for. If you are like me and purge unwanted acquisitions quickly, you might need to stock up on a few before you pop the Egg.
Pro Tip I haven’t crunched the numbers on every mon, but the general wisdom when evo-spamming is to only perform the first evolution. The second evolution tends to cost a lot more candy, without generating an equivalent amount of experience.