10 Things I Wish I Knew About Pokémon Go Before Starting

Are you as lost in Pokémon Go as I was? If you feel like you don't know what you're doing, this article is for you!

It took me a while to jump onto the Pokémon Go bandwagon. I didn’t download the game until it had been out for over a week, so I’m a bit behind most other players.

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That said, I have been able to put a lot of time into the game over the last week. There were a lot of things I learned the hard way during that time, so I wanted to put together a few Pokémon Go tips to help everyone else struggling with the same questions.

Pokémon Go Tip #1: Use All Those Items!

I got to the point where I had more items than I knew what to do with… mainly because I just wasn’t paying attention to their descriptions. A bad habit I’ve fallen into after playing countless RPGs.

The key to catching higher level Pokémon is to use the right items. Pokémon love Razz Berries, so throwing one out there helps prevent the Pokémon from jumping out of the ball. Likewise, higher-level balls (like the Great Ball) are a huge help.

So to maximize your changes, use both. If you’re like me and are constantly hitting up Pokéstops, you have the items to spare!

Tip #2:  How to Use the Tracker

There’s been a lot of confusion about the tracker. While most people understand some aspects (like the fact that just 1 paw print means you’re almost on top of it), there’s been confusion regarding how to use it well.

To use the tracker, open it up and KEEP IT OPEN. Then decide which Pokémon you want to capture and start walking in a direction. If it starts moving to the left and up on your grid, you’re getting closer. If not, try switching directions. Once it gets to the top left corner, you’re almost on top of it.

While the tracker isn’t perfect, this method does work. I used it to track down a Venomoth today, which is now my strongest Pokémon. I also used it to track down a few others yesterday, but (I think) they were on top of a parking deck that I couldn’t access.

I was sad.

Note: The tracker currently is not working in-game. This hopefully will be working as intended soon!

Pokémon Go Tip #3: How to Control How Eevee Evolves

One thing to note is that this doesn’t work 100% of the time. Many players claim it only works once, so be careful! Here’s how I used it: I first evolved an Eevee randomly, and ended up with a Jolteon. Huzzah!

Then for my next Eevee evolution, I tried this trick to get a Flareon. It worked, so I’m happy now that I have two different types rather than leaving it to chance. 

Essentially, you can choose how your Eevee evolves. You don’t necessarily have to make it the strongest possible, but Vaporeon is considered the strongest, so you may want to go with that.

To make it turn into Flareon, change the nickname to Pyro. For Jolteon, name it Sparky. And for Vaporeon, name it Rainer.

Tip #4: Incubators = Pwnage

When I first started playing, I (unfortunately) invested a few bucks into buying Incense. While I did catch a few things from bumming around my house, in general I learned that it’s not worth it.

Instead, Egg Incubators are the best thing to buy. You get tons of eggs from Pokéstops, so being able to rapidly hatch them is a great way to get both XP and higher-level Pokémon .

Plus, you tend to get more candy with the Pokémon that hatches! Getting that extra candy is no joke, and will help you evolve and power up Pokémon like crazy. 

Pokémon Go Tip #5: Use that Lucky Egg Wisely

Lucky eggs are awesome.

They double the XP you get from everything- catching Pokémon , evolving Pokémon , hatching eggs, etc. A great way to use them is to save up Pidgeys (since they’re everywhere) until you have enough candy and Pidgeys (or other Pokémon with a low evolve cost). Then pop a Lucky Egg and evolve all of them at once.

But you can make it even better. If you have multiple Egg Incubators, time the Lucky Egg to be on right before you hatch all of your eggs.

You can thank me later.  

Tip #6: Turn Off AR and How to Use the Circles

I know, I know. It’s kinda fun to see that Squirtle standing right next to your favorite lake, or have a Magikarp sitting on your kitchen table while trying to eat dinner.

But AR tends to make catching Pokémon more difficult. While that’s not a big deal for lower-level Pokémon that are pretty easy to catch, it makes a big difference when going up against the monsters with hundreds of CP.

Turning off the AR making catching Pokémon a lot easier because it locks them in the middle of your screen. When throwing the ball, try to get it in the contracting circle. If it’s towards the outer edge and it lands inside, you get a “Nice” throw. If it’s getting small-ish, you’ll get a “Great.” If there’s a very small inner circle and you get it inside, you get “Excellent.

The only problem is that if you go up against a harder Pokémon, you may not want the circle to get too small because landing between the outer and inner circles may let the Pokémon escape.

Pokémon Go Tip #7: Pay Close Attention to Type

In general, the type of Pokémon you use to defeat defenders is one of the most important factors in your battles.

In fact, every gym I’ve conquered had me going up against stronger Pokémon than mine if you just compare CPs. 

Note that the multipliers aren’t as strong as they were in the original Pokémon games. HP and CP are still important- hence why Vaporeon’s abnormally large stats make him one of the strongest Pokémon  in the game. 

But type definitely makes a difference. As I said, I’ve beaten numerous opponents, including Vaporeon, with higher CP than my Pokémon as long as mine was the right type.

Before tackling a gym, change your lineup to accommodate. So for example, if a gym has a few fire Pokémon guarding it, use water, rock or ground Pokémon to smash it! 

If it’s being defended by electric Pokémon, avoid pulling out your water Pokémon unless you want to be embarrassed. 

That’s why building up multiple Pokémon is better than just making a few really strong. It’s better to have 1-2 strong ones of each type rather than have all of your strongest Pokémon be the same. 

To help you with the various strengths/weaknesses, I put together a quick reference chart: 

Type Strong Against Weak Against
Fire Steel, Bug, Ice, Grass Rock, Water, Ground
Water Fire, Ground, Rock Electric, Grass
Grass Water, Ground, Rock Fire, Ice, Poison, Flying, Bug
Electric Water, Flying Ground
Normal None Fighting
Ground Fire, Electric, Poison, Rock, Steel Water, Grass, Ice
Rock Fire, Ice, Flying, Bug Water, Grass, Fighting, Ground, Steel
Fighting Normal, Ice, Rock, Dark, Steel Flying, Psychic, Fariy
Ice Grass, Ground, Flying, Dragon Fire, Fighting, Rock, Steel
Poison Grass, Fairy Ground, Psychic
Pyschic Fighting, Poison Bug, Ghost, Dark
Bug Grass, Psychic, Dark Fire, Flying, Rock
Flying Grass, Fighting, Bug Electric, Ice, Rock
Dragon Dragon Ice, Dragon, Fairy
Fairy Fighting, Dragon, Dark Poison, Steel
Ghost Psychic, Ghost Ghost, Dark
Dark Psychic, Ghost Fighting, Ghost, Fairy

Tip #8: Gyms Are Worth Fighting For!

When I first started playing, I didn’t really understand how gyms worked. But they’re worth learning about and fighting for. You get free coins daily, which basically helps you level up faster. It’s the game’s way of rewarding you for taking the time to battle and keep Pokémon at a gym.

I say this because most players I’ve talked to haven’t even attempted to take over a gym yet. If they have, they tried it once, got their butts kicked, and walked away in defeat. 

It takes a little practice and time, but it’s something that almost anyone with a decent number of Pokémon (especially of varying types) and healing items can do. 

Pokémon Go Tip #9: How to Take Over a Gym

When trying to take over a gym, you’ll likely need to battle over and over again to knock down all of the prestige. That means you’ll want to come equipped with lots of potions and revives to heal up your Pokémon between battles.

Here are a few tips to help, especially if you’re new to gyms:

  • Pay close attention to the types of the defenders (as already discussed.) Build your team around the first one. 
  • After defeating the first Pokémon, RUN! Some prestige will still be knocked off the gym. 
  • Revive/heal up and repeat. 
  • After knocking out the first defender a few times, the gym prestige will be lowered enough that the first defender gets kicked out. Now, you’ll be going against a new defender.
  • Rinse and repeat. 

By just focusing on taking out one defender at a time, you can optimize your team better. Sure, it takes going into the gym more often, but it’s the easiest way to do it without having to build a team that’s effective against multiple defenders.

Bonus tip – attack gyms with a friend. This will help knock down the prestige much faster. 

Tip #10: How to Battle in Gyms

My very first battle, I ended up doing zero damage to the enemy.

Why? Because I didn’t know what to do. I figured my Jolteon would just go to town without me doing anything.

While the fighting system isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, it did take me a few tries to figure it out. 

Regular Attack: Tap the screen- it seems to work whether you tap on your Pokémon or the enemy. 

Dodge: Swipe to the left or right. Sometimes it appears you can avoid all damage, but usually I ended up taking some damage. Still, it can make a big difference in the fight- especially useful when the enemy uses a big special!

Special Attack: As the battle progresses, you’ll see the light blue bar(s) under your Pokémon’s name light up. When it gets full, you can release your special attack by putting your finger on the screen and holding down (rather than the tap for Normal Attack.)


So there you have it- some of the best Pokémon Go tips I’ve learned so far. Good luck!

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I've probably put more hours into video games than my kid has been alive. Call of Duty, MOBAs and Skyrim are to blame!