Pokemon GO Starter Guide for New Trainers

At the end of the day, Pokemon GO is here for your enjoyment. How you want to spend your time playing the game is up to you, but here are a few things you might want to do:

Find Other Players!

  • Pokemon GO has a huge worldwide player base, and making friends with others will help you make trades, hold gyms, and complete raids

  • Use resources such as Facebook or Discord to coordinate meetups

Explore Safely!

  • Pokemon are everywhere, but do be aware of your surroundings

  • DO NOT play Pokemon GO while operating any kind of vehicle

Should I Invest?

  • A Pokemon GO Plus and a portable power bank could facilitate easier play

  • Most premium items don’t ever need to be bought with money if you battle Gyms

  • Tickets to some special events require a cash-purchase to join

Three Part Guide

Hello New Trainer!

This guide will not assume anything about your prior experience with Pokemon GO or the Pokemon franchise. We want this tutorial to help anyone who has a compatible phone and a desire to play one of the most popular mobile phone apps around the world.

We’ll talk about getting started, catching Pokemon, trainer levels, items, gyms & raids, and how to have the most fun playing the game.

Niantic Official Tutorial

Before we get started, you should know that Pokémon GO is made by the company Niantic, and their support page has a lot of great info for new trainers.

After you read up on the basics of how to play, be sure to check out the above tips!

Getting Started

To start the game, you must first register using one of a few different options:

  1. A Google Account
  2. A Pokemon Trainer Club Account
  3. A Facebook Account
  4. A Niantic Kids Account

In general, Google and Facebook seem to be the most reliable options. Note that near the start of the game Pokemon Trainer Club Accounts were notorious for not letting players log in, though this issue has been largely fixed. Should you choose to use a Pokemon Trainer Club account or a Niantic Kids account, a Google or Facebook account can be linked for future logins.

After meeting Professor Willow for the first time and catching your first Pokemon (you can start with Pikachu), you can enjoy the Pokemon GO experience! Well, a little bit of it. To have it all, you have to get to level 5. And to do that, you’ll have to catch Pokemon.

Catching Pokemon

You’re given a short tutorial in-game that gets you your first Pokemon. After that, you’re on your own! So what do you need to know?

Some Pokemon Are Hard to Catch

  • Pokemon of a higher CP or rarer Pokemon will often break out of their Poke Ball.

  • If a Pokemon breaks out, they have a chance to run. If they don't, you can throw another ball.

  • Some Pokemon will move or attack, so be patient! Throw your ball right as they stop moving.

Increase Your Catch Success Rate

  • Upgrade catch medals through catching Pokemon of a certain type

  • Aim for curveballs and the inner catch circle for extra success rate

Wait to Power Up Your Pokemon!

  • Don't power up a Pokemon until you absolutely have to!

  • Try to find Pokemon with naturally high CP and good IVs

  • When you encounter a Pokemon in the wild, its max Level will be your level +2

  • Before lv.30, all Pokemon stats are randomized just for you. Once you hit lv.30, the pokemon that you catch in the wild will have the exact same stats as the same Pokemon caught by another player Lv.30 or over

Use Berries for Bonuses

  • Pinap Berries increase candy earned

  • Razz Berries increase catch success

  • Nanab Berries keep the Pokemon from moving and attacking

  • Golden Razz Berries are primarily earned from raids, and give a larger bonus to catch success rate than normal Razz Berries

  • Silver Pinap Berries are primarily earned from events and research, and increase both candy earned and catch success rate

Use Your Nearby Radar

  • The bottom right tab shows nearby wild Pokemon and Raids

  • Nearby Pokemon are generally connected to a specific nearby Pokestop, though if none are around it can show Pokemon in the general area, though these tend to be far harder to locate.

Hunt for Specific Pokemon at Nests

  • At a “nest” (often in parks), there will be many of the same Pokemon species spawning in one place

  • Nest species change every 2 weeks, with some exceptions

Hatching Eggs

  • Eggs are obtained randomly after spinning a PokeStop or Gym or opening a Gift

  • You have to walk 2 km, 5 km, 7 km, or 10 km to hatch an Egg in an Incubator

  • The orange Incubator is unlimited; Blue and Super Incubators break after 3 uses

  • Only certain Pokemon can be hatched from an Egg, depending on when you acquired it

Obtaining Candy

  • Wild Pokemon yield 3, 5, or 10 Candy when caught, depending on their evolution stage

  • You can double the Candy amount by using a Pinap Berry

  • Transferring a Pokemon to Professor Willow yields 1 Candy

  • Setting a Buddy Pokemon will grant 1 Candy of that species per amount of distance walked

  • Hatching an Egg produces Candy for the hatched species

Once you get enough Candy, you can evolve or power up Pokemon, or even unlock a second charged move!

PokeStops, Items, and Leveling Up

After you finish off the last of the Poke Balls given to you by Professor Willow, getting more is as simple as finding a PokeStop. There are tons of PokeStops, concentrated in urban and suburban areas, that will let you replenish your item stock. Tapping on a PokeStop and spinning the disc will grant you 3-5 items.

Gyms also function as PokeStops! You can spin their Photo Discs for items. As you do more activities at a Gym, you earn badge points (BP) which level up that Gym's badge. A higher level Gym badge produces more items per Photo Disc spin! Compared to regular PokeStops, Gyms yield more Revives and Potions.

The items you’ll get will vary as you level up your account. Once you hit level 30, you’ll have unlocked all the items.

Managing limited bag space can be challenge. Tailor your items on hand based on what you do in-game. If you battle or raid a lot, keep more healing items. If you're more of a catcher, keep more balls and berries. Extra bag space can be purchased in the shop; any half-serious player should invest in several of these bag upgrades. Niantic occasionally updates maximum bag space. 

Gyms, Raids, and Battling

Once you have caught enough Pokemon to reach level 5, you can join Team Valor, Mystic, or Instinct, at which point you’ll gain access to Gyms. Gyms are the only way to receive Pokecoins without spending money, so using them will greatly benefit you!

Gyms can hold six Pokemon of the same team. If a Gym is controlled by your team and doesn't have six Pokemon, you can place one there! Pokemon in a Gym possess “motivation”, represented by a heart icon above their head. A Pokemon’s CP decreases as motivation decreases, which happens over time or after a battle. Once the motivation for a Pokemon falls below 0, they’re removed from the Gym.

Until you hit level 25, you shouldn’t worry too much about Gym offense. Taking down a fully loaded Gym can be challenging until you have a solid team of 6 healthy, high-CP Pokemon. If you see a Gym with some Pokemon with very low CP, you can give it a shot. Ultimately, what matters is placing the Pokemon in a Gym and remembering to feed it berries.

A Gym Pokemon's motivation can be restored through feeding it with berries. Simply tap on a Pokemon to bring up the feeding interface. Each berry fed restores some motivation and generates 20 Stardust. You may even get a Candy of the species of Pokemon that you fed! You can feed any Pokemon in the Gym as long as your team controls that Gym. A Pokemon will only accept 10 berries every half hour.

You can view your current defenders, their motivation, their total defense time, and your current Pokecoin earned count in the Today tab, which can be accessed by tapping on the Research button in the lower right corner of the map.

Once your Pokemon is knocked out of the Gym, that Pokemon may return with PokeCoins. PokeCoins are earned at a rate of 1 coin per 10 minutes spent in a Gym, and you can get up to 50 per day.

Sometimes at a Gym you’ll see either an egg or a giant Pokemon with a timer above its head. That means a Raid is taking or will take place. Raids are accessible after level 5 and allow you to fight a high-CP Pokemon alone or with fellow trainers! Raids also grant exclusive items such as TMs that let you change your moves, Golden Razz Berries to bolster catch rate, and Rare Candies that can act as any species’s Candy.

Only a certain set of Pokemon are available at a time in Raids. Raids come in tiers: Tier 1 raids contain weaker Pokemon and grant fewer rewards, while Tier 5 raids contain legendary Pokemon and grant the most rewards.

Some advice for newbie raiders:

  • Try to arrive at a raid at least 10 minutes beforehand to coordinate

  • Use your best Pokemon and try to do as much damage as possible

  • Be nice to your fellow raiders! You’ll probably see them again.

When you enter a Gym or encounter a Raid, it's time to battle! Battling against another Pokemon is very different from other Pokemon games. Your Pokemon has two moves. One move is performed by tapping on the screen, and using it charges up the second move. The second move can be used by tapping the button when it’s charged. You can also dodge the enemy's moves by swiping to the left or right. Dodging a move greatly cuts the amount of damage taken.

Battles in Pokemon GO are mechanically simple, but when you get into type effectiveness, perfect dodging, breakpoints, bulkpoints, and more, you’ll find there’s plenty of depth to it. Check out our various articles to learn more!

Having Fun