An Introduction to Pokemon GO Speed Raiding

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(DownWithTTP started speed raiding early in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. He holds a handful of world records, some level 30 only records, a myriad of top 5 times, and was among the first in the world to duo Walrein and Poliwrath without weather boost).

You’re able to solo most 3s and duo most 4s. You’ve even beaten legendaries in small groups. Now you are looking for a  new challenge. Allow me to introduce you to the world of speed raiding.

I feel the biggest thing lacking in Pokémon Go is competition. The game offers no direct battling or ranking system. Sure, you can find leaderboards to see where you rank in XP and various badges, but the reality is a suburban player like me is never truly in contention. But speed raiding is different. Anyone can compete. Maybe you and your friend don’t have 12 maxed Kyogre to get the world’s fastest Golem Duo time, but there are other categories like “Level 30s only”, “6 unique Pokémon” or “1v1” that have a low barrier to entry. There is something for everyone.

Speed raiders think differently. Their goal usually isn’t to just survive and beat the boss. They want to crush it as quickly as possible. Everyone talks about Tyranitar as a supreme counter vs Mewtwo and Lugia. My best lineups for speed trios of those bosses don’t include a single Ttar. A soloist aiming for a good raid time really needs to think hard about whether a dodge helps or hurts their pace. Duoists try to use as many similar Pokémon as possible in order to normalize energy gain. They’ll try to sync charged moves to overcharge a boss and make it waste energy.  Speed raiders don’t just focus on fast moves... we want those extra points of damage, and that makes charged move breakpoints very important. It’s a different game.

Who Are You Competing With?

So I talk about competition above, and I don’t want that to seem like I am just talking about record books or leaderboards. Sure, that’s part of it. And “World’s fastest Machamp time” is a very tangible goal. But it’s more than that. Hopefully, you gave the Venomoth Challenge a try. Sure, you could be going for the best time, but the true competition is with the Exeggutor and yourself. You need to dodge correctly, understand weather, know which movesets to target, and very much stay on your game.

The joy of breaking a record is pretty hard to describe, but there’s quite a bit of enjoyment in just beating your own best time. And it’s pretty cool to do something different like defeat a Machamp with only Machamp.

How Do I Get Started?

First things first, an understanding of type advantages and optimal movesets is a must. If you aren’t knowledgeable here, check out this and this.

You need to as much damage as quickly as possible without fainting out. Learn how to use simulators. Pokebattler is great for solos and identifying top counters, and it’s very useful for a high-level picture of whether or not a boss can be soloed. Go Battle Sim takes it a step further... a power user can figure out how to optimize not just the Pokémon used but the best order.

You’re going to want a good phone. In general, iPhone is better than Android, but there are exceptions. Newer phones obviously will run faster. Internet connectivity matters too. Rubber banding of your energy and the boss’s health is a frustrating problem. And any delay beyond the standard 3 seconds to start a battle can be crippling.

Now you have your knowledge, a good phone, and know your best lineups. Identify the boss or challenge you want to attack and go for it!

Embrace the Variance

In cloudy weather with no dodges, a team of maxed C/DP Machamp will beat a Piloswine with somewhere between 81 and 92 seconds left. That’s an absurd difference in such a quick battle. What’s causing that?

First of all, the boss’s moveset can be the whole difference.  A sunny Kyogre Trio isn’t unreasonable with good grass types, but Blizzard makes it impossible to do without Raikou. Same logic applies for solos, though it’s less extreme.

In a speed run, you obviously have to consider survival. Re-entry will wreck your time in a solo or duo. But given that you are going to survive, sometimes you want the opposing moveset to do as much damage as possible. More damage done to you is more energy gained.

Another cause of variance is the timing of charged moves. Sometimes the boss will spam a 3 bar charge throughout the battle. Other times it fires rarely. This will change your final time. In addition, your energy management matters. If your Exeggutor faints with a full bar of energy before that Solar beam gets off, your time gets much worse.

Don’t get frustrated… this is the game we choose. Your time may not look good, and variance may be the only reason. Don’t be afraid to back out of a battle early either. Against Jynx, I would commonly back out and restart if my Moltres died with a full charge ready to go.

Logging Your Time

There are two main methods to determine when you are victorious in a raid:

  • The time when confetti appears

  • The time when the button that allows you to leave the battle vanishes

Almost all standards start from 180/300 seconds and count entry lag against you. Some use the amount of time to win as a benchmark. Others use the time remaining.

We highly advise screen recording your raids. This allows you to see the exact moment you beat the boss. It also gives you something to put on YouTube when you break a record (nearly all record books require video verification).

More Info/Conclusion

The GamePress Solo, Duo, and Small Group guides focus more on winning the raid than maximizing speed. The answers are there if you read between the lines, but honestly it’s just a starting point. While the Silph Road’s Reddit is great for so many Pokémon Go related info, there is rarely discussion on speed, challenges, or 1v1s. However, r/pogoraids is a great place to go to improve your raid game. You can participate in challenges, talk about raid theory, and watch videos from many of the world’s best soloists. As you find elite soloists you like, try to follow them on YouTube and especially Twitter. I’ve picked up some great tips from many of them, like @KaitoNolan, @PoGoKieng, and the folks over at r/pogoraids

Finally, I mentioned it above briefly, but the best way to really understand raid mechanics is to mess around with Go Battle Sim. My times improved significantly as started using it. Don’t just sim once or take the average results. Use the enumerate tool to see a range of times and understand what’s truly possible. Use the batch function to see performance vs various movesets. On paper, I wasn’t strong enough to duo Poliwrath. But I was able to mess with the sims and find a moveset where me and my partner had a 40% chance to win.