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Pokémon Go, A Beginners Guide

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Co-Founder of Time Wasters. Favourites are Couch co-ops, games that can be made into drinking games, and anything open world. Grew up on Nintendo but I have been putting considerable time into the Playstation 4. Nintendo will always have my heart.

If you’re just getting into Pokémon go, or just jumping back into it like myself, there’s a lot of things to keep in mind while playing that’ll make your experience with the game a lot more enjoyable. Knowing how to best use all the resources available to you will make the game a lot more fun to play with others or on your own. As we go through the basics that’ll benefit you, you’ll hopefully walk away with a few tricks to get the most out of Pokemon Go.

If the full article feels a little too much, there is a TLDR at the bottom with a super simplified version of how to play.

First things First

First and foremost, get yourself a referral code. A friend can send you a code within the first few days of you starting that game (some say it works within the first week for them). This also applies for an account that has been inactive for over 90 days. This code will grant you and the sender, a ton of items as you complete basic game tasks that you’d complete regardless. The bonus items that you get can make a big difference in the game. From extra experience to items, its a super nice bonus for the playing you’ll do regardless.

I would highly suggest using a friends code as it’s more fun working together with people you know. If there is no one you know that plays to give you a code, use 9Y7KMWKTC. That’s my friend code meaning I’ll be automatically added to your friends list if you it. I’ll go more into what that means and how that benefits both you and the other player you’re adding beyond just the referral bonuses.

Friends and Gifts in Pokémon Go

While friends in your friends list don’t offer any major benefits in the game, they do offer some things that make the game more enjoyable to play.
If you’ve gotten a referral code and managed to use it than you will have one friend who has a ton of tasks for you to complete under their name. Simply click on them when you see their icon in your friends list to open up what tasks they have for you. Most of them will be able to be completed without you even realizing it so pop into their screen once and a while and claim whatever rewards you have earned. This will really help you with getting more items that you’ll likely find yourself burning through as you play.
All the other friends on your list will be able to send you gifts and you can send them right back. Although these gifts often have very minimal items, opening up a bunch of them everyday can really help to replenish your item bag.

Finally the more gifts you’ve sent and received with a friend, the higher their friendship level with you will be. This will allow for discounts in the cost of stardust required when making trades as well as bonuses during and after gym/raid battles. Again small things to note but if you’re working closely with people on your friends list than you can really benefit from these things very quickly.
Finally keep an eye out for community events and look into the local forums/reddit for Pokemon Go in your area. One of the easiest ways I have found to add to the friend list is asking those people at the community events and scanning their friend code. Bonus is that since you’ve met them at the event their is a high likelihood that you’ll run into that at future events without having to coordinate. This will be your best chance to get friend bonuses without a lot of planning.

Tasks and Their benefits

The next thing to be aware of is the Tasks that you can complete to gain items, experience, and even encounters with Pokemon. These tasks are split into three categories: Field, Today, and Special. I’ve broken down each section below and the best way to approach them.

Field Tasks
Field tasks are daily tasks that you complete to gain the reward the task offers directly. They also work towards a larger goal were after completing a task on 7 different days (they do not have to be consecutive days) a large bonus is given to you. It is definitely worth the time to keep these goals in mind. It is also worth noting that while these tasks are usually rather easy to complete but you can secure your 7 day bonus very easily. Simply keep a completed task in your list for the next day if you’ve already completed one that day. Always having one on deck has gotten me to the 7 day bonus without missing a day every time.

Today Tasks:
Making things a little confusing is the “Today” section in the tasks menu. These are generally timed tasks and event related tasks. As you scroll down in this section you will read a news feed of upcoming and past events/info for Pokemon Go. Some of these things you’ll likely naturally take care of while playing while others you’ll have to focus on to get through. These are not mandatory and therefore you should not stress if you can’t complete them, especially in the beginning of your career.
Generally there is a tasks list for the Pokemon Go Battle League (which I am horrible at) that will last for 3 months. If the Battle League is something that interests you than you can really benefit from it. For most though it’ll just complete parts of it as you play if you’re lucky enough to win battles.

Otherwise the tasks are widely varied in this section and on short timers. With only a few days to sometimes only having a few hours to complete you’ll have to really be aware of how you’re playing. Keeping an eye on the upcoming events will let you know what days to be ready for. Often on Saturdays you’ll find community events exist for that day only. Knowing what the event will be ahead of time and what time period it happens in will make your chances of completing all the tasks and benefiting from it fully much more likely.

Special Tasks:
These tasks are a lot more fun to complete than the others. This is how Niantic (the creators of Pokemon Go) have added story into the game.
when you first get started there will be numerous tasks in this category that you can work towards. With no time limit on them you don’t have to worry about pushing through them as fast as you can. Instead take your time with them and enjoy the story it puts out.
Once you’ve completed all the tasks you’ll end up with only the ones that are released as new stories are told. It’s a little disappointing just having to wait for more so I wouldn’t rush through what is there if I could do it again.


Your item bag will be essential in Pokemon Go. It’s small to begin with which is a real nussance but you are able to increase the size of it. At 200 coins an upgrade for a small improvement of increasing its size by 50 items, it’ll take a while to get your bag to a good size without spending any money on the game. It is competely doable though.

There are so many items that you store in your items bag that it can be confusing at first. In the beginning the most important thing for you to have are pokeballs. everything else can be tossed or used up to create more inventory space. It is nearly impossible to progress in the game without pokeballs so make sure that you collect as many as you can.

The only other thing that I would suggest to make sure you keep are rare candies. They’ll make leveling up certain Pokemon significantly easier so do not toss them and only use them on a Pokemon you really want.

Depending on your play style as you advance you’ll learn what you want to keep and what is of no use to you personally. As you do managing your inventory is a lot quicker and easier.

The Shop

The Shop won’t be of much use to you in the beginning unless you want to spend real money to advance your game. There are a lot of items in the shop that are useful but in order to earn coins you’re going to have to take placement in a gym which we’ll explain in a bit. Otherwise you just won’t have the coin to get anything.

The one thing the shop will have for you each day is a free gift. The items within the gift are different each day but regardless they are useful in early stages. Remember to grab that gift even if it’s the only time you open the app that day.

Catching Pokémon

Now we arrive at the main point of the whole game, Catching Pokemon.

The mechanics behind catching Pokemon is very straightforward. Hit them with a pokeball, hope they don’t get out. But there is a lot more to making sure that second step works in your favour.

First, the shrinking circle around the Pokemon is your main target. As it gets smaller your chances of catching that Pokemon are increased if you manage to throw inside it. You can get the Nice! Great! or Excellent! bonus added to your throw dependent on how small the inner ring is. You are able to catch a Pokemon without landing in that inner ring but it can be tougher.

Second, Giving the pokeball a little spin before throwing it greats a curveball throw. This can be harder to land especially at first but does increase your chances of a successful catch. If you have the pokeballs to spare, I would practice this with one hand. Took me a long time to get the one handed curveball down which made playing a lot tougher.

Third, the type of pokeball you use makes a big difference as well. You have either a regular pokeball, greatball or ultra ball. Again your chances of having a successful catch are increased when using a higher rated ball but you don’t want to waste all your ultra balls and then come up against something really tough.

Finally, berries are another great bonus to catching. Not all berries make catching easier though so be aware what you are throwing. Razz berries and golden Razz berries give you an increased chance of succeeding in your catch.

Choosing Pokémon In Pokémon Go

Now that you’ve caught Pokemon there are some things that help decide whether you want to keep it or transfer it.

First and foremost, do you like it? There are a few Pokemon, especially in the beginning, that I kept just because I like them. They weren’t strong or highly rated, I just think execute is cool.

Next is having them appraised. This will show you how they rank compared to the other possible versions of them that are out there. Personally I now try and keep only 3 star Pokemon. (There are later game strategies to do better at battles. These require Pokemon who aren’t 3 star but have specific stats. Not worth concerning yourself with early game).

Finally, Keeping Pokemon with a high CP. Even if they aren’t well appraised and a Pokemon you hate, they still have value. Leaving Pokemon in a gym removes them from your usable Pokemon list until they are kicked out of a gym. This can be minutes or months. Therefore having Pokemon that are high level and that you don’t care about makes it easy to send them away with he hopes they’ll earn some coin.

A “Perfect” appraisal

“Training” Your Pokemon

Unlike Pokemon games of old, training and grinding to level up your Pokemon isn’t really a thing in Pokemon Go. Instead the way you upgrade your Pokemon is with a combination of their specific candy and stardust. There are a few ways to get candy for a Pokemon as well as different ways to get stardust but the most straightforward way to collect both is by catching Pokemon. Once you have enough of both you can “power up” a Pokemon in their details page. This is also where you can evolve eligible Pokemon if you wish with enough candies to do so.

Poke stops and Gyms in Pokémon Go

The last thing that is important to know about are the Poke stops and Gyms. These places are the main way you will be able to collect supplies such as Pokeballs, potions, gifts to send to friends, and more. The only deterrent to being able to collect from these areas is if your bag is full.

Poke Stops

These are simple. Simply click on it and spin the icon. Items will come out and be added to your inventory. You can add modules to a Poke stop in order to attract more Pokemon to that location as well if you’re going to be hanging around it for a while.


Gyms are still very easy to collect items from. Click on the gym and then in the top left hand corner you’ll see a small circular icon. Click that and you’ll be taken to the page that you can spin the icon to get items. It’s really only one more step than a Poke stop. If you are able to, try and get your own pokemon into the gym at the same time to earn some coins.

That’s a detailed guide of all the basic elements of getting into Pokemon Go! It is not nearly as overwhelming as it may seen. For a more simplified version check out the TLDR below.

TLDR For Pokémon Go

Pokemon Go! I a nice excuse to go out and explore while learning some new areas of your city. All the while you can be building up your pokedex and taking over gyms. There are a few simple steps to get you into playing right away:

  • Catching pokemon is the main element of the game.
  • Walking around and collecting items from poke stops will make catching pokemon easier.
  • Get your pokemon into gyms if you are able in order to earn coins for the shop.
  • Power up your pokemon as you play to make taking things over easier.

That’s the basics of what you need to do to be successful at Pokemon Go! Read the full article for more indepth information on how to do each thing.

Find Pokemon Go! on the play store or the App Store for your free download.

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