Picking a team
At Trainer Level 5 you’ll be to join one of three teams. Each team uses one of the original three legendary birds as their mascot – Team Instinct (Zapdos), Team Mystic (Articuno) and Team Valor (Moltres).
There’s no benefit to joining one over another, no extra items for one or bonus XP for another. Teams exist to create competition between gyms, so pick whichever one you like.
Why gyms matter
After choosing a team you can now visit gyms and either train at them if they’re controlled by your team or try and take them over if it’s owned by a rival team. The reason gyms are so hotly contested is they’re a good source of Stardust and are the only way to earn Pokécoins for free to spend in the Shop.
Gyms are defended by trainer’s Pokémon who are left behind and only returned if the gym is taken over. The amount of Pokémon that a gym can hold is dictated by the gym’s level, which increases as it’s Prestige Points are raised.
Think of Prestige Points as HP for the gym, and the more points a gym has the more Pokémon it can hold to defend itself. Basically if your aim is to take over a rival gym you first need to deplete it’s Prestige Points, or if you want to remain in control of a gym you should raise it’s Prestige Points.
|Gym Level||Pokemon||Minimum Prestige Points|
Making your gym stronger
To raise a friendly gym’s Prestige Points trainers on the same team as the gym must battle (or ‘Train’) the Pokémon currently residing inside the gym. Knocking out friendly Pokémon increases the gym’s Prestige Points, which in turn can level up the gym and allow it to hold more Pokémon.
As mentioned before, when the gym levels up a trainer can choose to leave behind a Pokémon to add to the gym’s defense. Whoever leaves behind the strongest Pokémon becomes the Gym Leader, but everyone within the gym gets the same benefits of Stardust and Pokécoins. More on that later.
Taking over a rival gym
Unlike training at a friendly gym where you can only use one Pokémon you can use a full roster of six Pokémon when battling at a rival gym. The gym level determines how many enemies you’ll face, so Gym Level 3 will have three defending Pokémon.
Even if you manage to knock out every enemy Pokémon you don’t automatically get to take over the gym. The process must be repeated until the rival gym’s Prestige Points are fully depleted, so be prepared for a lot of fighting.
The basics of gym combat
- To attack an enemy Pokémon tap on them repeatedly. This will use your Fast Attack, which is the first attack listed on your Pokémon’s stats screen.
- Your Charge Attack meter must be glowing before it can be used. To use a Charge Attack hold your finger down on the enemy Pokémon. A text prompt such as “Snorlax used Earthquake” will let you know you have just used your Special Attack.
- To dodge attacks swipe either left or right. If you successfully dodge an enemy attack the words “Dodged!” will appear above your Pokémon. Dodging attack builds up your Charge Attack meter faster, but regular attacks do a little as well so don’t spend all your time dodging.
- Some Charge Attacks are made up of multiple Power Meters, that build up over time and used when full, while others have just one Power Meter that must be completely full before being used.
- Stats from traditional Pokémon games like Speed and Accuracy don’t come into play in Pokémon Go, just timing, swiping and tapping speed. Don’t overthink it, just go on the offensive early on and try and anticipate an enemies Charge Attack.
After battling at the gym go into the Items menu, select a Potion (regular, Super, Hyper or Max) and heal your injured Pokémon. If any of your Pokémon fainted at a rival gym you’ll have to use a Revive to wake them up before healing them. Pokémon still take damage and require healing after a friendly gym battle, but do not require Revives.
You must heal a fainted Pokémon before it can be placed in a gym. This means that if you spend too long in the menus healing your spot in the gym could be taken over by someone else nearby! So be ready to either heal quickly or select a healthy Pokémon to guard the gym.
The benefits of gym ownership
As soon as you take over a Gym head to the Shop immediately and collect your Defender Bonus of 500 Stardust and 10 Pokécoins by tapping the shield icon in the top right corner.
This bonus regenerates every 21 hours your Pokémon remains in a gym you are given. Make sure to collect it fast because if your Pokémon is kicked out of a gym the bonus disappears with it. This is the only way to earn Pokécoins without buying them for real money in the Shop.
There’s no limit to the number of gyms you can have Pokémon stationed in, but you can only get a Defender Bonus from 10 gyms maximum.
Setting up your defending Pokémon
Once you lower a Gym’s defense enough (or raise one of controlled by your team) put a Pokémon inside of it immediately. Once a Gym is no longer under control by a team anyone nearby can setup a Pokémon to defend the gym and claim the Defender Bonus. Either have a powerful Pokémon ready to go, or just throw any Pokémon in there and quickly collect your Defender Bonus from the shop. Whatever you do, do it fast!
You can see which Pokémon are still inside of a Gym by going to your Pokémon storage screen and looking for the Gym icon next to the Pokémon.
Controlling a Gym isn’t easy, especially in densely populated areas. Your best bet is to take on one gym with a group of friends on the same team and fill it up with the strong Pokémon you have, or alternatively find a nearby friendly gym and build it up.