What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location based game on Android and iOS devices where players must find and collect Pokémon using Poké Balls. Using your device’s GPS tracking the game relies on you moving about the world (in real life) to find Pokémon. Check PokemonGo.com for a very basic rundown.
Trainer Levels vs Pokémon CP
It’s important to note that in Pokémon Go your Pokémon don’t level up the way they do in traditional Pokémon games (i.e. Red, Blue, etc) through battling each other and instead rely on Candy and Stardust to gain Combat Power (or CP).
However, your trainer avatar does level up, and in doing so unlocks new items and abilities. So even when your Pokémon battles another trainer’s Pokémon at Gyms it’s the trainer who gains XP, never the Pokémon. (see Trainer Level unlocks)
Choosing a starter (and why it’s not a big deal)
When you start the game theres’ a brief introduction and the ability to capture either a Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle. You can choose to wander off (as in walk away in the real world) and reject these starters four times to then choose a Pikachu instead. Either way it doesn’t matter, all of these four Pokémon can be caught in the wild.
Understanding your Pokémon’s stats screen
So you’ve got a Pokémon sitting in storage, let’s look at what it’s various stats are and what they mean.
Favorite star: Up in the top right corner, used to mark a Pokémon as a favorite, after which you cannot Transfer it until it is unfavorited.
CP: Short for Combat Power, this is your Pokémon’s attack power which comes into play during gym battles. The half-circle over your Pokémon indicates it’s potential, as in how far off it is from it’s maximum CP at it’s current evolutionary state. You can raise it’s CP by tapping Power Up and spending Stardust and Candy (see Teams, gyms and battling).
Pokémon name: Tap the Pokémon’s name to change it, 12 characters maximum. You can also tap the Pokémon to hear it’s cry.
HP: How much damage your Pokémon can take during battles at gyms. (see Teams, gyms and battling)
Type: Pokémon can either one or two types which have their own weaknesses and strengths. For examples, Growlithe is a Fire-type and is weak to Water-type attacks, but can cause extra damaged to Grass-type Pokémon. (see Teams, gyms and battling)
Weight/Height: There’s some debate as to what these stats actually mean, but the general consensus is they mean nothing and are just there to give Pokémon some individuality.
Stardust: This is used in combination with your Candy to increase a Pokémon’s CP level, which is a measure of it’s overall strength. Stardust can be used on any Pokémon. You collect Stardust by catching wild Pokémon, hatching eggs and and defending gyms. (see Stardust and catching Pokémon)
Candy: Unlike Stardust, Candy can only be used on the corresponding Pokémon. So Growlithe Candy can only be used on Growlithe and it’s evolution Arcanine. Candy is required for both evolving a Pokémon and for increasing a Pokémon’s CP level. (see How to gain XP quickly)
Power Up: Tap this button to use Stardust and Candy on a Pokémon to raise it’s CP (Combat Power) level. As mentioned above, all Pokémon use the same Stardust, but Candy is species specific.
Evolve: Spend Candy to evolve your Pokémon into it’s next form. An evolved Pokémon has more potential CP gain and higher HP levels. You also gain XP from every evolution. This option will be greyed out or not present on Pokémon who cannot evolve any further. (see How to gain XP quickly)
Attacks: Each Pokémon has two attacks they can only use during gym battles; a Fast Attack and a Charge Attack. When in battle Fast Attacks can be used simply by tapping while Charge Attacks can only be used when at least one of the power meters is full. For example, Growlithe’s Body Slam has two power meters so at least one must be full before the attack can be used. Others attacks may have more or less power meters. Underneath each attack is the attack type, so for example Ember is a Fire-type (i.e. ‘Super Effective’ against Grass-type Pokémon), while Body Slam is a Normal-type attack (i.e. ‘Not Very Effective’ against Ghost-type Pokémon). (see Teams, gyms and battling)
Date: When you caught the Pokémon.
Three lines button (Menu button): Press the Menu button to reveals ability to Transfer and Favorite a Pokémon. Favoriting here is the same as the star at the top of the stats screen, while the Transfer options sends a Pokémon to Professor Willow in exchange for one Candy. This is an essential part of the game and and ties in with boosting you XP and leveling up through evolving. (see How to gain XP quickly)
PokéStops are represented on the map as blue boxes that become Poké Ball icons when you’re in proximity to them. Tap on them and spin the image on the disc in the center to dispense a random assortment of items that may include Poké Balls, healing items, Razz Berries or Eggs for incubation. (see Eggs and incubating)
PokéStops can be visited once every five minutes and will also give you 50XP per visit. You don’t have to tap on the items to collect them, just press the X at the bottom and they’ll be added to your backpack automatically.
If you see a PokéStop that look like it’s raining confetti it means a trainer has put a Lure Module on the PokéStop. All nearby trainers will see an increase in nearby wild Pokémon for the next 30 minutes.
When in range of a PokéStops you can also place a Lure there, provided one isn’t already in place. In the image above you can see a Lure is in use as indicated by the icon between the PokéStop image disc and the description text.
Incense is like a personal Lure and lasts for 30 minutes, but it only aides you and no other trainers. When using Incense, you can continue to walk around as Pokémon will be attracted to your location, plus you’ll still encounter regular Pokémon that everyone else can see.
Keep an eye out for Pokémon with a haze of smoke circling them, those Pokémon are ones only you can see. To get the most out of Incense you must be moving. It still works when standing still, but walking or riding greatly increases your chance of spawning Pokémon.