How To Play Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is happening. A powerful brand, the right technology, and a team with expertise have all come together in a magical moment.

Let’s review the game and how it might best be played.

The goal of Pokemon is to get strong Pokemon.

Keep this goal front and center; everything else revolves around it.

In Pokemon Go, you catch stronger Pokemon as you level up.

In the game’s current form, it seems to be much easier to level up and catch stronger Pokemon than to invest  in  developing any individual Pokemon.

Therefore, the basic strategy is to level up your character.

Leveling up requires experience. Experience is acquired in one of four ways:

  1. Visiting and interacting with Pokestops
  2. Catching Pokemon
  3. Evolving Pokemon
  4. Winning in battle

Combat in Pokemon Go is in the nascent stage, so we will not focus on that here. The other categories are valued as follows:

  1. Visiting a Pokestop is 50 experience
  2. Catching a Pokemon is 100-200 experience
  3. Evolving a Pokemon is 500 experience

A player visits Pokestops and catches Pokemon by navigating through the world. Therefore, the majority of a player’s time should be spent doing this.

Catching a Pokemon yields two benefits:

  1. Experience
  2. Pokemon Candy

Pokemon Candy is important, since you need it to evolve your Pokemon.

Catching Pokemon gives you experience and helps you evolve other Pokemon, giving you more experience.

When you catch a Pokemon, you get experience and candy. When you have a Pokemon, you can “transfer it” to the Professor (using the button at the bottom of that Pokemon’s stats card). Transferring a Pokemon removes it from your roster (which helps keep the game under control), and gives you more Pokemon candy.

The optimal game flow is: (catch, transfer, and evolve Pokemon) -> level up -> catch stronger Pokemon.

Important here is the lack of attachment to individual Pokemon. Aim to keep a roster of 6-10 “strong” Pokemon to use in battle, and maybe your starter Pokemon, then transfer everything else to the Professor. It will be easier to catch stronger Pokemon than to try and strengthen the ones you’ve caught. Unlike the original Game Boy games, catching Pokemon again and again is an important part of the gameplay.

Evolve Pokemon quickly; get candy.

When consider when and how to evolve your Pokemon, you may feel conflicted between holding off to potentially evolve a strong new catch, and evolving a weaker Pokemon in order to gain the evolution experience. Given that you will continually be catching and transferring Pokemon, the advantage of leveling up sooner exceeds the advantage of developing one particularly strong Pokemon. So evolve them as soon as you have the candy.

Leverage items to accelerate experience gain.

An intermediate strategy is to leverage items like Incense and Lucky Eggs to speed up your character’s development. Incense increases the frequency with which Pokemon appear, and Lucky Eggs double the experience you get; each lasts for 30 minutes.

Here is an example strategy:

  1. Apply Incense and a Lucky Egg simultaneously.
  2. Catch Pokemon for 20-25 minutes. Since Pokemon will appear more often, and you get 2x experience per catch, you will get ~4x more experience than normal. You should be able to catch 10-20 Pokemon during this period.
  3. In the last 5-10 minutes, transfer and evolve as many Pokemon as you can. If you’ve been catching actively, you should be able to evolve 5+ Pokemon before the Lucky Egg expires, netting you 5000 experience on top of the ~2000-4000 experience you got from the catches.

The above strategy should net you 6000-10000 experience in 30 minutes, enough for a level, and even more if you’re evolving/catching Pokemon you’ve never seen before.

This should suffice as a basic strategy while the game develops over the next few weeks. Best of luck! What a time to be alive.



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