Pokemon Go Beginner’s Guide

Pokemon Go Beginner’s Guide by Lesbionical

Character Creation

Your character name is unique to you, so as you may have guessed all the good ones have been taken within the first 20 minutes. Your characters look is permanent, as currently there is no way to change it after you have decided on a look.

Pokemon Go Plus

A device is coming out in late July 2016 called Pokemon Go Plus. After you connect it through bluetooth to your phone it will vibrate and light up when you come near a pokemon or pokestop as if your phone was in battery saver mode without having to keep your phone active. There are other simple actions you can perform as well. Visit the website for more details.

Tracking a pokemon


To see which pokemon are near you tap on the bar at the bottom right of your screen. The pokemon are listed by distance (closest at the top left, furthest at the bottom right). The closer you are to a pokemon the less footprints appear, and if you select one of the pokemon it will show you a footprint marker at the bottom right of your screen for that selected pokemon only. If you wish to track a different pokemon tap on the bar again. If you see an outline of the tracker extend out on your screen (like the circle that extends from your avatar) it means the tracker is updating with new information (adding or removing footprints, adding or removing pokemon from the list, or rearranging the order of the pokemon in the list).


If you have a record of the pokemon in your pokedex you will see the filled in picture, if not it will be a grey outline. Pokemon locations are based on GPS coordinates, and multiple people can encounter and catch the same pokemon within a set amount of time (what seems like 2-5 minutes).


Tufts of grass will appear randomly on your map (and disappear just as quickly). These areas have a higher chance of encountering a pokemon, but does not guarantee a pokemon will be there.


Your character has a flashing expanding circle around them. When the white circle flashes it will show you the extents of your characters range, to find a pokemon or activate a pokestop you must get it within this circle.

New Pokemon

Pokemon are area specific, for example where I live I encounter a drowsey every 2-3 pokemon. If I travel a few kilometers away (new municipality) that changes drastically. If you want to find new pokemon you’re going to have to get out there!

Catching a Pokemon

Throwing a pokeball

Hold your finger on the pokeball at the bottom of the screen. Two circles will appear, the circle that is constantly moving will be colored green (easy), yellow (medium), orange (hard), or red (expert) based on how difficult it will be to catch that pokemon. The name and CP (combat power) of a pokemon will be displayed above the pokemon, if the CP is displayed as question marks, it means the pokemon is a higher CP than any you are carrying currently.

Flick your finger up the screen to throw the pokeball towards the pokemon. You can also throw the ball in an arc on your screen, gaining a curve ball experience bonus if you catch the pokemon.

Augmented reality

If you tap the slider in the top right of your screen during the capture animation you can turn AG (augmented reality) on or off. Currently it is much more stable and easier to try to catch a pokemon with AG off (even though it’s WAY cooler with it on).

Catch difficulty

Throwing the pokeball when the colored circle is smaller gives you a better chance of catching that pokemon, but only if you hit the pokemon inside that small circle. Hitting the pokemon inside the circle while it’s big will still give you a better chance to catch the pokemon than hitting outside the circle.

Candy and stardust

When you catch a pokemon you get 3 candy for that pokemon (each evolution uses the same candy as it’s predecessor). If you trade a pokemon to the professor you get an additional candy for a maximum of 4 candy per pokemon caught. You also get stardust, and the amount is based on the difficulty of the catch with a minimum of 100 per catch. If you scroll down to the bottom of the stats page when you catch a pokemon you can transfer it to the professor without having to go into your pokemon inventory.


There is a camera icon in the bottom right of the screen, you can take pictures of the pokemon you encounter with this button. This is what you have been seeing plastered all over the front page of reddit recently.

Pokemon Stats, Evolutions, and Abilities

There are currently only the first generation of pokemon in the game, and I’m not going to go over them and their types here, as there are plenty of better guides for that.

Combat power

Pokemon combat power seems to be the most important thing in this game right now, as even a 20 CP difference can make a gym battle hard to win. A pokemon’s max combat power is based off of your trainer level, and the maximum of your currently held pokemon will increase as you level up. The higher your CP when you evolve a pokemon, the higher the CP of the evolved pokemon will be, so this can be a way to get a pokemon of higher CP than your level allows. So far there is no penalty for doing this.

Special attack

The bars beside your special attack represents how many charges of your special attack you can hold (number of bars) and their size determines how long it takes to charge up (see combat). The number beside your special and your normal attack represent their damage. It is unknown if the evolved abilities are linked to which abilities you started with.

Power up and evolve

You need stardust to power up your pokemon (raise its CP) and at least 1 candy, but you only need candy to evolve a pokemon. If the pokemon has 3 evolutions the first evolution will be anywhere from 15 to 25 candy, otherwise each evolution will cost 50 to 100 candy (other than magikarp, which costs 400).

When your pokemon evolves the attacks it has will change with it, and you gain one candy of its type. It is important to note that you can not power up and evolve a pokemon while it is guarding a gym. The cost of raising a pokemons CP through powering it up will not change if you evolve the pokemon, the cost is based on how far along the semi circle the pokemons power is.


This will show you where you caught the pokemon you are looking at, and the date it was caught on.


This will permanently transfer your current pokemon to the professor for 1 candy of its type.

Clock icon (bottom right of screen)

While looking through your pokemon you can select this icon to change the way they are sorted. You can choose between recent, favorite, number, health points, name, and combat power.


Pokestops will reset about every 5 minutes (maximum). Each pokestop appears as a blue icon on your map (or purple if you’ve used it and it has not reset yet), and when you get close enough you can click on it and spin the disc by flicking your finger from one side of your screen to the other. You get free items at random every time you do this.


You do not need to wait for all the items to appear to make sure you get them all, you can exit out as soon as they start dispensing and still receive all the items from that stop. If you try to spin the disc while it’s purple it will give you a message saying “try again later”, and you will need to wait until it resets to get more items.


You can attach a module to a pokestop that lasts 30 minutes and attracts pokemon to the pokestop. This affects every player near the pokestop, and only one module can be placed in any pokestop at one time.


To view the eggs you currently have (received at random from leveling up and pokestops) go to your pokemon list and slide the screen over to the eggs pannel.


You start out with an incubator that can hold one egg and can be used an infinite amount of times. You can gain more incubators that have 3 uses and you can use as many at once as you would like.


You gain a very large amount of candy and stardust by hatching eggs compared to catching pokemon, and how much depends on the pokemon and size of the egg. Eggs come in 2km, 5km, and 10km sizes. They track how much walking you do (if you are moving too fast it will not register) and hatch when you have reached a certain distance. You must have the app active for it to track how much walking you are doing.

The Map

Control your map like you would google maps. Tap the north arrow to have it cycle through following the direction you are facing and facing directly north. You can click and drag to rotate the map around you as well, and use two fingers to zoom in and out by spreading them apart on the screen or bringing them together. If you can see an icon on the map you can click on it and load information about it, but you can only interact with it if it is within your circle. If you see a spinning pokeball at the top left of your screen it means the app is in the process of loading something.



You can choose between yellow (instinct), blue (mystic), and red (valor) once you hit level 5. Each gym is represented by their colors legendary bird and a team slogan. Choosing your team will determine which gyms you train at and which you fight at. If a gym is your color that means your team owns it, and you can help level it up and defend it. If a gym is one of the other team’s colors you can fight the pokemon guarding the gym to take control of it for your team. There is currently no advantage or disadvantage to joining one team or another, and changing teams requires a request to the game developers on their website.


When your team owns a gym it will have a certain number of slots available for defending pokemon. You can choose any pokemon in your inventory to defend the gym with, and for every day that the pokemon stays defending that gym you gain star dust and pokecoins. You can collect these rewards by clicking on the shield at the top right of the shop. You can collect your rewards as soon as you start defending a gym, and every time you do a 21 hour timer lets you know when you can collect again. You can only leave one pokemon per person per gym, and when that pokemon is defeated it will be returned to your inventory. There is currently no way to swap a pokemon you have left at a gym for another pokemon.


When you attack a gym you attack every pokemon defending it at once in order of difficulty. If you defeat a pokemon (even if you don’t defeat all of them) that pokemon is removed from the defending slot. If you defeat all of them you take over the gym. You choose up to 6 pokemon to attack a gym with at a time, and they come out in order from top left to bottom right.


When your team owns a gym you can train your pokemon at it. Training at a gym does not give you or your pokemon any benefits, but increases the gyms level to allow more pokemon to be stored in it for defense. When training you choose one pokemon defending the gym and one pokemon you own to battle each other. The gym only levels up if you win your training matches, and the closer the CP of the pokemon you’re fighting the more the gym levels up.


Combat works like a mini game. Your main attack is used by taping on the screen. You can dodge left and right by swiping in each direction, and you can use your special attack by holding your finger on the screen. There is another blue bar under your special attack meter that charges as you hold the screen to let you know when you can release for your special attack. You must use your basic attack to charge up your special attack (the bars at the top left of the screen), and each special attack uses up one bar. An attack will finish if you faint in the middle of it, so it is possible to knock each other out at the same time.


Remember, a lucky egg doubles ALL of these experience gains.

10 XP – Curve ball (arc as you throw your pokeball)

10 XP – Nice throw (hit inside a large circle)

50 XP – Activating in at a pokestop

50 XP – Beat a pokemon in training at a gym already your team’s color

50 XP – Great Throw (hit inside a small circle)

100 XP – Battling an opposing team’s pokemon trainer at a gym

100 XP – Excellent throw (hit inside a tiny circle)

100 XP – Pokemon caught

150 XP – Beating an opposing team’s Pokemon trainer at a gym

200 XP – Hatch a pokemon

500 XP – Evolve a pokemon

500 XP – New pokemon



These are used to catch pokemon, if you make sure to hit up your local pokestops you shouldn’t ever have a problem having enough pokeballs. You may only use these items when attempting to catch a pokemon.


Have a greater chance of catching a pokemon, gained from pokestops at and after level 12. You may only use these items when attempting to catch a pokemon. To switch to a greatball, tap the bag icon in the bottom right of the screen while catching a pokemon.


This lures pokemon to your location for 30 minutes. It only works for you and not anyone around you, and works best if you are moving around. It still seems to work if you are sitting still but not very well. To use this item select it from your item inventory.

Lucky Egg

This increases the experience you gain from everything for the next 30 minutes. To use this item select it from your item inventory.

Lure Module

This attaches to a pokestop and lures pokemon to its location for 30 minutes. It works for everyone close enough to interact with the pokestop, and will stick around even if you leave or log off. To use this item select the pokestop you want to use it on and click on the empty module bar just above the picture.

Egg Incubator

This is an extra incubator for the eggs you pick up in the game. They have 3 uses each, and allow multiple incubations at once. To use this item select an egg from your pokemon inventory and select incubate.


Heals 20 hit points on one pokemon. Unable to use on a fainted pokemon. To use this item select it from your item inventory for a list of pokemon below full health.

Super Potion

Heals 50 hit points on one pokemon. Unable to use on a fainted pokemon. To use this item select it from your item inventory for a list of pokemon below full health.


Revives a fainted pokemon. Unable to use on a conscious pokemon. To use this item select it from your item inventory for a list of fainted pokemon.


The game settings are found by tapping the pokeball at the bottom of the screen and then the settings button at the top right of the screen.

Battery Saver

There is a setting that isn’t explained very well called Battery Saver. When active, turn your phone upside down to dim the screen and put the app into “battery saver mode”. It will keep your app open, alert you if you run into a pokemon, and track your steps. This does not keep your phone from going to sleep from inactivity, but is a good tool if you don’t want to be constantly looking at your phone while walking around.

Known Issues

Battery life

The game drains your battery at an alarming rate. While plugged in you are usually keeping the charge even to put it in perspective. This is a known issue and is being worked on by the developers.

Server issues

The servers are overloaded by a significant amount. They know it, and it’s really not that surprising. Try restarting the app if you encounter a server issue and it might fix itself. If you need to log in when you open the app that means the server went down recently.


The game freezes quite often, but it isn’t the end of the world. If you were catching a pokemon it allows you to try to catch it again if you restart the app.

Impossible battles

Sometimes a battle is impossible to win, in this case restart the app and your pokemon should be back at the health they were before you started the battle and you can try again.

Level up lag

When you level up, sometimes the game will lag considerably and not apply your bonuses right away. Keep playing the game, they will come eventually.

Failed purchase

Sometimes if you purchase an item from the shop it will give you an error message saying “you have already purchased this item.” Power your phone off and on to correct this issue.

Upcoming features

Most of these features have been quotes from John Hanke, the CEO of Niantic.


John has said “it’s kind of a core element” and revealed the feature will be released in a later patch. What that looks like has yet to be detailed.

Pokestops and gym improvements

Right now the gyms and pokestops are in their “very most basic versions” according to John, and we should see some hefty feature updates coming. No details yet other than the ability to “customize their functions” as a possibility.

Global Leaderboard

How the ranking system will work and what it will look like is still a mystery, but a global leaderboard is coming soon.

Augmented reality improvements

The current augmented reality is a “great first step” according to John, which means we can expect some improvements to be made over the course of the updates to come.

Augmented reality device support

John has said “that might be a fun thing to take advantage of” in response to a gamespot interview, but no solid yes or no yet.

Bi weekly updates

Game informer has quoted John saying that we can expect bi weekly updates for the game.


New server iterations are coming, which means less lag and less dropped games.

Other countries launch dates

“Short term plan is to keep the servers up and to launch in the rest of the countries that we ‘re not in yet,” John said, no word on if the expected July release will hold with the user base already reaching more daily users than twitter.

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