10 things to know if you’re just getting started with Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Cover]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Not everything is obvious to new players

I wouldn’t have loaded Pokémon Go on my cellphone if I had known more about how it works. My intention was to kill some time while I was traveling and help my children out by catching some Pokémon in places they couldn’t go. Killing time was no problem; I’m now on Level 24. But I later learned that you can’t trade Pokémon (at least not yet). Hours of game time later, I am still picking up things that would have been useful to know much sooner. If you’re just starting out, read on and avoid some of my own frustration.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 1]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Be safe

The Pokémon Go app wants a lot of your data; you can’t play if you aren’t willing to share PII. If you do play, beware of fake apps whose purposes are to funnel your PII to cybercrooks or take over your phone. Don’t download the game from anything but a legitimate app store. Be cautious too if you decide to download any helper or cheat apps, since there are many malicious apps out there taking advantage of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. (Best way to avoid trouble: Skip the cheats; I haven’t seen any that are truly useful.) And take care of your physical security, always being alert to your whereabouts. Put down the phone when you’re driving, and look up frequently when you’re walking.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 2]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Catch all the Pokémon you can

Yes, even though the game is marketed with the phrase “Catch ’em all,” I didn’t understand that you want to catch as many Pokémon as you can. I thought “Catch ’em all” referred to the various types of Pokémon and that I was wasting Poké Balls on Pokémon I already had. No; the more Pokémon you catch, the more Candy and Stardust you have, and they are needed to evolve the Pokémon. But I also was not aware the Pokémon evolved or how to do it. Those Pidgeys and Rattatas can add up quickly, and evolving them to get more points can help you to level up quicker. But strategy does come into play. If you are low on Poké Balls, you might want to forgo a Pidgey with Combat Power (CP) of 250, since it can take a lot of Poké Balls to catch them.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 3]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Don’t be embarrassed

An adult playing Pokémon may feel some stigma. Just get over it; you will be surprised at the diversity of people you will see playing the game at airports, on buses, in parks and on the street. It is a wonderful way to get out, see new areas and meet some great new people. With millions of downloads, the weird people are the ones not playing. On the other hand, don’t become obsessive about the game. It’s easy to fall into that, but it’s best to set limits for yourself. I was going to recommend that you carry a portable charger with you, since your phone must be on and unlocked all the time while you are wandering around and playing, but a dead battery does provide a limit if you find it difficult to stick to one that you impose yourself.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 4]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Find PokéStop clusters as soon as possible

PokéStops are places for restocking supplies and getting Eggs and even some points. Unless you find a cluster of nearby PokéStops, where you can quickly restock dozens of Poké Balls, you will have a difficult time progressing in the game. While knowing of a few isolated PokéStops is helpful, clusters are the only real way to support a habit. PokéStops tend to be in well-trafficked areas such as shopping centers and tourist destinations.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 5]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Location matters

Magikarps and Psyducks will be found near water. I didn’t see many in Phoenix, but there were plenty of Growlithes, which in turn seem to be rare on the East Coast. Look for ghost-type Pokémon near hospitals and churches and fighting Pokémon near arenas. Hard-to-find monsters such as Squirtles are often clustered in nests, and you can often find nest locations online. At one nest near me, I found five Squirtles within 20 minutes.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 6]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Choose your team wisely

When you approach a Gym (a place where the Pokémon of rival teams battle) for the first time, you are asked to choose a team: Red, Yellow or Blue. In my area, the Red and Blue teams seem to be more popular than Yellow, so Yellow team members are likely to have more people battling them than supporting them. You’ll probably want to coordinate team choice with your friends. Friends in other teams can help each other, but there will come a day when you are battling your own friends if you’re on different teams. By the way, battles and taking control of a Gym can help you earn some substantial Experience Points (XP), as well as PokéCoins and Stardust. To battle, you tap on your Pokémon for the weak attack, and when the power bar goes to full, you hold your finger on your Pokémon to launch the strong attack. You swipe right or left to dodge your opponent’s attacks.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 7]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Know about Eggs and evolution

Swipe left on the Pokémon screen to see your Eggs and to put them into your incubators so they will hatch. When Eggs hatch, you usually get one of the more powerful Pokémon of that species, and sometimes Pokémon that are more difficult to find in the wild — plus Candy and Stardust, which you use to evolve and power-up your Pokémon, and XP. When you evolve your Pokémon, I generally choose those with the highest CP, although Hit Points (HP) are also important if you intend to battle. Also think about evolution levels. For example, a small amount of Candy will evolve a Caterpie into a Metapod, but more Candy will evolve a Metapod into a Butterfree. A good strategy is to time evolving Pokémon around the hatching of eggs, especially if you combine it with using a Lucky Egg, since a hatched egg might provide you with the very Pokémon you were planning to evolve to and will certainly give you more Candy and Stardust.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 8]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Be smart about Lucky Eggs

Lucky Eggs double the XP that you earn for 30 minutes. If you learn to use them properly, you can significantly accelerate your leveling up. For example, if you time the hatching of eggs so that as many as possible hatch at once and apply a Lucky Egg when they are about to hatch, you can earn up to 18,000 points during a single hatching. Then, before the 30 minutes are up, use the Stardust and Candy you get in the hatchings to evolve Pokémon into types you have not previously captured, and you can add thousands of additional points.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 9]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Decide how much money you want to spend

Advancing is easy at first. Initially, you need points totaling about 1,000 times the level you want to reach. Naturally, it gets harder the higher you go. For example, you need 100,000 points to go from Level 22 to 23. Once you pass Level 20, you can slow down by quite a bit, and to keep up the pace, you can find yourself spending real money. For example, the game always allots you what’s known as the infinite incubator, but it lets you hatch only one Pokémon at a time. I was given two incubators that accommodate up to three Egg hatchings each, and those incubators need to be replaced. You may also find yourself using up Lucky Eggs faster than you can replenish them in normal play. To keep moving, you might want to purchase Lucky Eggs and incubators. Try to live within a budget by deciding how much you can afford per week or month. Of course, Pokémon Go creator Niantic is interested in making money, so the higher you go, the more difficult it is to move along at the same pace. The wild Pokémon you encounter will be more powerful types and therefore more difficult to catch, and even the less powerful Pokémon become more feisty. One way to save money: Learn how to throw curveballs, which makes capturing Pokémon easier.

Pokémon Go  /  10 Things to know if you're just getting started  [Slide 10]
Credit: Niantic / Pokémon
Manage your limited storage

You are limited to 250 Pokémon and 350 items. If your bag is full, PokéStops will not give you more items, including Eggs. But if you don’t have the items you really need, you can delete some you do have to make room, and you can transfer Pokémon and receive an extra piece of Candy in return. Potions are useful only when you’re in battle; if you don’t expect to be in one soon, delete some of your potions (or engage in battle for the sole purpose of using up potion, while earning points). If an upcoming battle seems likely, delete extra Poké Balls, since catching Pokémon won’t be a current priority. You might also want to delete regular Poké Balls to make room for Great Balls or Ultra Balls.