Pokemon Go: Learning To Optimize

By: Damien Dufresne

I spent most of yesterday playing and I think I “get it” now in most regards. It’s really weird that there’s no tutorial in this game at all, and that they just expect you to “wing it” right from the beginning.

This list may contain some dirt simple stuff but you never know what people have overlooked.

– Pokemon take Candy to level up and ALSO to Evolve. Candy is basically the entire game. When you capture ANY Pokemon you get Candy of their class. This is what you are meant to spend the most time farming.

Egg– Eggs are the chase. Hatching them yields big rewards. You get more Candy from a hatch than you would a capture and sometimes it’s a lot – I’ve gotten 10x Candy from a hatch.

– You can only have 9 eggs in your inventory at any given time. These range from 2KM to 5KM to 10KM and the higher the KM, the bigger and better your hatch. You WANT to clear these out asap and hatch as many as possible because once you hit your 9 cap, you’re screwed – they won’t even drop while you’re capped, and you can’t increase your egg capacity. If you spend any money in this game at all, your #1 purchase without question is egg incubators. Get AS MANY eggs going at the same time as possible, its the most important part of the game.

– You can drive at around 5-10 MPH and the game DOES count it as walking, but… that ISN’T PAYING THE IRON PRICE YOU WUSS

– The Lucky Eggs double your XP. They’re very valuable in the early game as discovery XP is huge. Later on in the game, less and less important as you find more and more of the species and thus have less discovery XP coming in. However, here’s a tip: if you save up a whole bunch of Candy and amass a bunch of possible Evolves, WAIT to evolve them and get a whole bunch ready. If you pop a Lucky Egg BEFORE evolving all of them manually, the evolutions COUNT for discovery XP and the Lucky Egg WILL double that discovery XP. Meaning, with just one Lucky Egg you can get a massive discovery XP bonus by using it and then evolving all of your lowbies at the same time. I realize microtransactions aren’t for everyone, but even one or two Lucky Eggs using this evolve method can be a huge swing in your favor if done right.

– Incense is good but very hit or miss. 70% of the time the incense guys that pop up are Pidgeys, Ekans or Rattatas. Sometimes, though, a pokemon you’ve never seen will pop up from it (I got my first Koffing this way) so it isn’t terrible value.

– If you “Transfer” a Pokemon (scroll down a bit in their personal menu when you click on them in your inventory) it PERMANENTLY deletes them and grants you 1 Candy. As attached as you may be to some of them, you should be doing your best to clear out the duds as often as possible.

IMG_2539– Okay, here’s the most important tip: Pokemon hold their respective gauge level meter positioning when they evolve. What this means is, you are basically spending the game hunting for the high RNG valued targets. Whenever you capture ANYTHING, evaluate it’s placement on the little semi-circle arc over it in your inventory. If it’s at 80%+, it’s probably pretty good. 90%+ and it’s a definite keeper. But if that half circle is, say, 50% or less, it’s a dud.

– ONLY BOTHER TO UPGRADE THE POKEMON THAT START OUT VERY HIGH ON THEIR LEVEL METER TO FINISH THEM. Don’t waste time grinding up their level meter from the bottom up – it takes Candy to upgrade and you’re better off spending it on Evolving. You really only want to be bothering with Upgrading when you’re bringing them from like 85-90% to 100%. That 100% will carry over to their Evolved stages, so if you get a Squirtle to 100% atk and evolve it all the way up to Blastoise, that Blastoise is now also instantly 100% atk. It’s a LOT easier to hunt for a high starting level Squirtle than it is a Blastoise so this is the best method for securing a max Blastoise.

– To better explain what i mean by those last two points: You may loot 20 Pidgeys in a day, but those Pidgeys could range anywhere from 2 CP to 250 CP. You would want to set a bar for where you start actually saving – say, 240 CP or more – and just immediately purge any of the Pidgeys under 240 CP to the yard. Any Pidgeys at 240+ CP, Evolve them and Upgrade them as needed.

– Different Pokemon have different CP Scaling. It’s not universal. One Tier 1 Pokemon might only go to 200 CP max while another goes to 300 CP. Some of the high end end game Pokemon get pretty high… much higher than others. Don’t overcommit to using your Upgrade Energy on the middle class to weak ones – just accept their inherent CP for the time being and stockpile the Upgrade juice for when you get the premiums.

– ANY Pokemon, big or small can evolve in to a pretty reasonable Gym fodder toon. Don’t feel dumb farming a million Pidgeys. I have some Pidgeots at 800 CP already from Upgrading and Evolving – it adds up quick!

– THE SAME TWO POKEMON CAN INHERENTLY START WITH DIFFERENT SKILLS. They’re not always identical. If you’re debating between two similarly leveled up Pokemon, compare their skill sets.

– The way skills work is in combat, you spam the weak attack building up energy to use the Special attack. This special attack is a blue box that fills up with each weak attack hit. Some attacks are one big blue box with a big damage whammy hit, other Special attacks are quick strike weaker damage hits but with very quick to fill up blue boxes. While us players may favor the big box whammy hits, keep in mind that when you’re using that Pokemon to defend a Gym, the AI will use that attack and as players we can actually dodge it. So while the big single attacks SEEM better on paper because WE use them appropriately and the enemy doesn’t really dodge them, always remember that the AI piloting that Pokemon may be better off using a ton of quick strike in your face attacks instead! (I’ve had plenty of success dodging the big nukes myself!)

– CONSTANTLY monitor your radar in the bottom right corner. This updates like crazy and it’s your only chance at spotting the big dudes. They seem a bit more picky in their location and I’ve had really big guys like Onix just vanish quickly after I didn’t uncover them quick enough. You really have to be on the ball adjusting your routes to the updated radar locations or miss out on the rarest ones.

– If you hold your finger down and spin the pokeball before firing it, it starts to spin and becomes a curveball. This usually breaks my game on impact and the theory is this has a higher chance for capture rate but no one really knows for sure. But it’s kinda fun!

– As you level up you start to unlock new items, like better potions, fruit and better pokeballs. Be picky over when and where you use the better pokeballs and fair warning – they toss like shit. It’s weird. They seem to intentionally go haywire ALL THE TIME upon tossing. Don’t get mad, it’s programmed to do this.

– Gyms seem to cap out at 3 trainers max. Be sure to jump on all of your faction specific Gyms asap to ensure you get in on the 3 cap before others fill it up. EDIT: Okay I’ve been corrected on this. If you train at your Gym against allies, the prestige level can go up and if you get it high enough the Gym Level will go up, meaning more trainers can be added in! So if it’s maxed, battle your allies until it levels up! My game admittedly keeps freezing when I try to win Gym matches so I’ve spent more time working on just farming and hoarding until they improve the servers.


  1. Melissa Palmer

    Gyms actually Cap out at 10 trainers/Pokemon.

    To level up a gym you need to fight at it (as long as the Gym is your own teams gym). This will give the gym XP and level it up at which point you can add your own Pokemon there.

    1. kirkbuckendorf (Post author)

      Thanks, Mellisa! We’ll update when Damien lands 🙂

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