Pokemon Go Starter’s Tutorial

Pokemon Go Starter’s Tutorial by kutturkuttur

This is very long so I’m going to put it in little sections–you can ctrl+f for what you care about. It’s going to be as basic as possible to avoid losing anyone since I know that the ingame tutorial doesn’t really give you much to work with.

How to play game

Install from your app store of choice. It is a mobile phone game. You can’t play it on ipads or anything like that because they don’t have GPS which is necessary.

Don’t make fun of this section, I’ve had a few friends ask me if this was a 3DS game or something else.

After that, expect to exercise. It’s Pokemon GO, as in GO outside.

Now then, the rest of the guide I’ll assume you talked to prof Willow and have grabbed your starter. The rest is information after the sucky in-game tutorial.

On Pokestops


  • You need to be within radar range of the stop to use it.
  • To use it: just tap it and then SPIN the circle in the middle. Not tap, SPIN.
  • They give 3-5 items per use, and the variety increases as you level up.
  • Unlock order: pokeballs (lv 1), eggs (lv 1), revives (lv 5), potions (lv 5), Razz Berries (Lv ~8), Lucky eggs/Lure Modules (??)
  • They reset and can be reused every 5 minutes.
  • They are generally located at landmarks (which is why they are always churches and fountains and whatnot). Here’s some more information.
  • Lure Modules will be talked about in the “Items” section.

On Finding or “Tracking” Pokemon

Basically all the tracking is done with the little “tracking” thing in the corner. Click it and it will show the nearest 9 pokemon within a certain radius.

Here’s an example: image

The number of prints indicates how far away the Pokemon is, if you have a list of Pokemon that have the same number of prints, then the more to the left top corner a Pokemon is, the closer it is. Left to right first and then up to down.

Pokemon you’ve found will appear as their sprite, unknown Pokemon will appear as silhouettes, a la, “Who’s that Pokemon?”

In order to “track” a Pokemon, you want to open up the entire tracking window with all nine Pokemon, then walk in a direction. Watch the Pokemon or silhouette you’re looking for and if they move towards the top left or start losing number of tracks then you’re going in the right direction. Vice versa if you’re going the wrong direction. When you hit 0 tracks, you can tap on the Pokemon, and it’ll appear in your radius.

AFAIK, no one knows what the leaf animations mean. There are some suggestions that perhaps it means there are more Pokemon in that area, or that the Pokemon you are tracking is in that direction, but nothing is for certain. I wouldn’t trust it.

On Catching Pokemon

This is where a lot of information is left out from the game.

There’s more to catching Pokemon than lobbing pokeball after pokeball and hoping you catch it, or using a razz berry and then lobbing a pokeball and hoping you catch it.

When you hold down the pokeball, you see a white circle and then either a green, yellow, or red circle that shrinks inside the white circle. The white circle is essentially the Pokemon’s hitbox. If you toss the ball and it lands inside the white circle, then you will have a chance of catching the Pokemon.

Meanwhile, the shrinking circle inside is for “aimed” tosses. When you toss the pokeball, the shrinking circle stops, and, if you hit inside the shrinking circle, you will get a “nice,” “great,” or “excellent” toss depending on the size of the circle. This grants bonus exp and has an increased chance of capture. Here are some pictures for how each of those tosses look like:

Nice Toss

Great Toss

Excellent Toss

Outside of aimed shots, you can also do curveballs, where the pokeball curves around after tossing it. It increases the xp you get, but is a little tricky to land. Basically you want to hold onto the pokeball and trace a small circle clockwise or counterclockwise until it sparkles, and then throw it out. If you spin it clockwise, then it will curve to the right (so throw it to the left) and vice versa for counterclockwise. It’ll look something like this while spinning it: Curveball

This grants 10 bonus XP and increases rate of capture.

Curveballs and aimed tosses can’t be stacked, aka you can’t do a curveball AND a great shot at the same time. The great shot will take precedence and you’ll only get the 50 bonus XP.

Some quick bullet points:

  • The color of the aimed toss circle indicates the difficulty of capture. Green is easiest and it gets redder the more difficult it is.
  • Every time you fail to catch a pokemon, it has a chance of escaping. More difficult pokemon are more likely to escape.
  • If they do not escape, the generally move slightly farther away (the pokeball hitbox gets smaller) so you’ll have to adjust by tossing it a little farther.
  • You can only use one razz berry per capture attempt. If you fail to capture the Pokemon of the first capture attempt after using a razz berry, but they do not escape, then you can use another.

On Gyms

You get access to all the gym stuff at lv 5. It doesn’t take long to get to lv 5 if you’re excited about this game. Assuming you downloaded it on a day you’re free, just walking around a park with 2-3 stops for 3-4 hrs should get to you there. (but i mean… the servers have to be up for 3-4 hrs…)

Here’s a picture of a neutral gym: Image

When you tap on this gym, you’ll be able to station a Pokemon there. This will be important for later. It will then turn to the color of your team and show the Pokemon you stationed there. You can only station one Pokemon per gym.

Here’s what it looks like when you tap on a friendly gym: Image

When a gym is taken for your team, it will start at level 2, which means 2 Pokemon (including your own) can be stationed there. To increase the gym’s level, you need to increase it’s prestige, which you can think of as “health points” for the gym. To increase the prestige, you need to train at the gym. Assuming you aren’t too far away, you can tap on the bottom right button to train there. In training, you choose one of your Pokemon to fight the Pokemon stationed at the gym in order. You cannot be KO’ed in training, but your Pokemon will take damage, so you will still burn through potions. Each Pokemon defeated will net more prestige for the gym and eventually it will level up, allowing 1 more Pokemon stationed per level. If there is space at the gym and you haven’t stationed a Pokemon there, then there will be a button on the bottom left to put a Pokemon there. You won’t be able to get a Pokemon stationed a gym back until it is kicked from the gym (this means you can’t boost/evolve/transfer it).

Here is a picture of an occupied team by Team Garbage Valor: Image

Assuming you are not the same team as a gym, when you tap it, instead of a training button, there will be a challenge button (same location, different icon. I can’t seem to find a picture). When you challenge an opposing gym, you bring a team of 6 Pokemon like in the games to challenge versus the Pokemon stationed at the gym. This isn’t like training, so your Pokemon can actually be KO’d, so have some revives on hand for Pokemon you like. For each Pokemon you take out in the time frame, an amount of prestige will be taken from the gym. As prestige runs out, the gym will delevel, and Pokemon will be kicked out starting from the weakest. Eventually you will run the gym out of prestige and it will become neutral again. Since it delevels on even just one Pokemon KO, yes this does mean you can throw revives and potions at a gym until it gets fully deleveled, no matter how weak your Pokemon are in comparison, as long as all 6 can beat at least 1 Pokemon each time.

These gyms are important because it will give you something called a “defender’s bonus” every 21 hours. If you go into your shop (hit the pokeball on the map, then the shop), there will be a thing on the top left looks like a shield with a number in the middle. The number in the middle is the number of gyms you have Pokemon stationed at. When you click on it, it will grant you 10 times number-of-gyms gold and 1000 times number-of-gyms stardust. Then you won’t be able to click on it for 21 hours, so be sure to capture all the gyms you can before using it for the day.

On Pokemon and Powering Up Your Pokemon

Here’s the Pokemon page: Image

You can see the Type, Weight, and Height of your Pokemon. The type matters because, just like any other Pokemon game, there is super effective and not very effective moves between types. You can also see your two moves (if you scroll a bit down), more on that in the Battling section. There’s also a map where you found it, and a transfer button to send it away to Professor Willow.

To Power up a Pokemon, you spend stardust and candies. Candies are specific to each Pokemon’s evolution chain and are gotten by catching that specific Pokemon or anything in it’s chain (awards you 3 Candies), transfering Pokemon of that chain to Professor Willow (awards you 1 candy), or hatching that Pokemon from an egg (awards you 10+ candies). Stardust is obtained via many means, such as training, challenging gyms, finding Pokemon, your defender’s bonus, etc. etc. Powering up a Pokemon increases it’s CP (Combat points) by a random amount, depending on trainer level and which part of the evolution chain the Pokemon is on. For example, a Pidgey power up will be ~8-10 cp, but a Pidgeot power up might be 20 or 30 cp.

To evolve it, you just spend candies. AFAIK, the most difficult to evolve Pokemon is Magikarp at 400 candies. Evolving multiplies the cp of the pokemon by some arbitrary number depending on the evolution. For example, Pidgeotto to Pidgeot might go from 163 to 343 cp, but for a Magikarp to Gyrados it could be from 63 to 700ish. For example….

There are some assorted theories on CP and HP, I’ll bullet point them:

  • CP of Pokemon you can capture increases as you Level Up.
  • Similarly, the Maximum CP you can increase a Pokemon to is linked directly to your level.
  • The minimum CP a pokemon can be is 10.
  • There seems to be no hard maximum overall yet, but no one has reached max level yet.
  • HP seems to be related to the weight of the Pokemon. A few people are reporting that XS Pokemon have lower overall HP than XL Pokemon.
  • It is unsure if there are any trade offs, but a few have reported it’s harder to dodge in battling with XL Pokemon? Could be confirmation bias though.

On Battling

A shorter section, hopefully.

The battling system is NOT turn based. Each Pokemon has 2 moves, viewable from the Pokemon’s page. The first move is their quick move which is done by tapping when in battle. The second is their “power move” which is done by holding down when in battle. You can dodge by swiping left to right. When you or the opponent uses a power move, it will state that you are using x move.

EDIT: You may want to take the following section with a grain of salt because someone has brought to my attention a more server friendly approach. Check this post out for details.

The best general strategy seems to be spamming quick moves and dodging when your opponent uses a power move. Using a power move seems to be a poor plan in general because it stops you from dodging and you can usually fit 3-4 quick moves in the time it takes to use a power move. My personal rule of thumb is only use the power move if it meets the all of the following 3 conditions:

  1. Your Power move is super effective or your quick move is not very effective.
  2. Your Power move is at least 3x the BP (Base Power) of your quick move.
  3. Your Pokemon will not die to 2 of your Opponent’s quicks or 1 of your Opponent’s power moves.

If these conditions are met, then the power move is more effective than the quick.

Here’s a type chart for noobies. Do note that there are no dark Pokemon in this game.

On Eggs (not to be confused with Lucky Eggs)

  • Given at Pokestops.
  • You have 1 egg incubator with infinite uses. You can buy temporary use ones from the store for 150 gold. (some are given as you level up)
  • To hatch an egg, it must be in an egg incubator.
  • They come in 3 rarities: 2 km, 5km, and 10km. The longer distance ones are rarer.
  • You must travel that distance with the egg in an incubator while Pokemon Go is open to hatch the egg.
  • Hatching an egg grants you a Pokemon with generally higher CP than your usual Pokemon and a minimum of 10 candies for that Pokemon (my friends and I have gotten anywhere from 10 to 25).
  • There is a speed limit on your movement. My estimation is ~15-20 mph, so slower than most cars but faster than most bikes.

On Items and the Shop

Quick bullet points on each item. Hopefully easy to read.


  • Used when catching Pokemon.
  • Worth? If you have NO stops in your area, this is the only way so unfortunately yes. Otherwise, just go to stops.


  • Activated in your bag.
  • Increases Pokemon spawn near the player for 30 min. (I get around 4-5 Pokemon per Incense use.)
  • Only works for the player that used it.
  • Seems to only get Pokemon that you would normally find in that area.
  • Worth? I don’t think so, unless you don’t plan on moving for a while. Could be useful if you are at work and want to catch Pokemon but can’t leave.

Lure Modules

  • Placed on a Pokestop.
  • Activated on Pokestop screen. Tap the little bar near the middle top.
  • It is notable that they call it a “Module slot” and not a “Lure Module slot.” Probably means there will be more than one type down the line.
  • Increases Pokemon spawn near that stop for 30 min.
  • Seems to only get Pokemon that you would normally find in that area.
  • Activates for ALL players, anyone can benefit.
  • Worth? Probably. Get your friends/team over and have a field day.

Lucky Eggs

  • Activated in your bag.
  • Doubles experience gain for 30 min.
  • Worth? I… am not sure. If you want to compete, it probably is, because level is so heavily tied to CP that leveling up gives you a massive advantage against other players.

Egg Incubator

  • Used in the Egg screen.
  • Is a temporary use incubator that has 3 uses.
  • Worth? Meh, if you have a lot of eggs but not a lot of time, maybe.

Bag Upgrade

  • “Increases the number of items you can carry by 50.″
  • Worth? Probably not, but it’s better than the Poke storage upgrade. It’s at least more permanent than the rest of the stuff on this list. If you have too much stuff, I would just start throwing out Pokeballs. Revives and Potions are much more valuable.

Pokemon Storage Upgrade

  • “Increases the max number of Pokemon you can carry by 50.”
  • Worth? Probably not, but at least it’s more permanent than the other stuff. There only exist a max of 151 Pokemon in this game right now (gen 1 only) so unless you are keeping lots of duplicates, you shouldn’t have a problem.

I’ll let you decide on your own about purchasing the micro-transactions, but honestly, the micro-transaction system they have is pretty fair. You never feel pressured into it unless you are obscenely behind your friends. There are no ads on the game. It’s basically completely free outside of spending money to “speed up” play. I personally think it’s really humane design.

On Server Issues

A little section on servers. The reason the servers are constantly crapped out is because when you release a game, you don’t buy enough servers to cover the initial hype. This sounds counter intuitive, but it’s because there are going to be players who download your game and play it for a week because it’s the fad thing to do and then drop it entirely. If you cater to those players, then you will waste money in the long run, so what Niantic is doing is waiting for the numbers to normalize before dedicating servers to reach that amount.

You can check on this website to see if the servers are up or not. Please vote yourself if you are able.

Short FAQ

  • “Help my screen is frozen on x!!!”

You’re best bet is to close and reopen. Sorry about those pokeballs you wasted or incense that was used for no reason or the hp your Pokemon lost. It’s a general issue with a new release game, especially of the mobile variety.

  • “Help this gym can’t be beaten! They’re stuck at 1 hp and I’m losing! This is BS!”

There’s nothing to do about this now, your best bet is to dodge until your connection to their servers improve.

  • “Help I can’t connect to this Pokestop/Gym even though I’m literally standing on top of it!”

Close and reset. It’s like a computer. Servers are finicky and app is buggy, not much else you can do about it.

  • “Help my battery keeps dying!”

Yeeaaaaa, this is gunna happen a lot. Pokemon Go is basically the perfect storm of battery usage. It uses GPS and Data simultaneously. It renders the entire map in 3D. It places additional points on the map that can be interacted with. It is generally used in the daytime, leading to higher brightness levels. It occasionally uses the camera. You’re just going to have to deal with it. I suggest buying a power pack on Amazon for 20 bucks or a spare battery if you use Android.


  • Eevee evolutions are either based on the location or just completely random. I don’t have enough information and there’s nothing conclusive online yet.
  • Magikarp seems to be the most difficult Pokemon to evolve.
  • Pokemon are tied to locations. Areas with water have more water types, etc. Though it is a loose-ish tie.
  • Pokemon are also tied to time (day/night). At least, in my experience. It seems that vulpix come out at night for me. Though there are conflicting reports.
  • This game is much more fun with friends, try to bring some in.
  • There is a secret way to have a Pikachu starter: if you start the game and walk away from the 3 starter Pokemon, then a Pikachu will spawn on your screen. I’ve seen several reports on this.

Alright I think that’s all. If I forgot anything I’ll edit this, but this looks pretty good to me. Thanks for reading!

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