Sunday, July 30, 2017

Become a Pokemon-Go Demigod in Three Weeks by Spending One Hour a Day

After hitting level 26 with my family Pokemon gang (the Wild Eevees) in 3 weeks, I thought I would write a jump-start guide for newbies. Disclaimer: this is my experience only; your mileage may vary.


A few ground rules to begin with:
1. Realize that Pokemon Go is the glitchiest piece of software I've ever seen. As a programmer for 37 years, that's saying something. If it freezes, white screens, or generates a random error, just close the app and start it back up again. If it happens during a raid battle, you may have just been screwed out of your 99 cents purchase price for the battle pass. They don't fix bugs or satisfy customers. What do you expect from a free app? Be prepared to write off any time or money you invest in it. In the best case scenario, avoid spending any real-world money.
2. Pokemon will KILL your phone at the rate of about a percent a minute. On settings, turn off sounds/music and turn on battery saver. Always have a wall or car charger handy, preferably with a splitter so your navigator has power too.
3. Only log in as you on one device at a time, or the game will give you strange errors like "no more room in gym."
4. Pokemon Go is not a solo venture but a gang activity.
5. The game ostensibly is to cultivate walking/physical fitness in players, but you can bike or ride in a slow car (under 20 mph) through town. Every device registers distance incorrectly and differently. Sometimes the game checks its distance routines at odd times, and you'll have several eggs hatch at once. If you're driving, give your phone to a passenger to spin, etc. If they shout "Abra!", don't drive off the road or hit anyone. This sort of Tourette's is common among players. When a special event ends, they often zero all your distance counters (see rule 1 and more random vocabulary is shouted).
6. Everything increases arbitrarily with your level, from the CP value of Pokemon you find to the range of your Pokestop detector. Therefore, you don't want to evolve hard-to-find pokemon until you reach at least level 10, or you will regret it.
7. If your school/business has a cell-phone blocker, you can connect temporarily using WiFi, but walking your buddy, eggs, and lucky eggs all require your exact GPS location. The only thing you can do reliably with WiFi is weed your bag or catch local Pokemon you spotted before the GPS was blocked.
8. It's incredibly addictive, so limit your time to something reasonable like an hour a day.
9. If you're a child or a woman alone, don't accept rides to the next raid battle. They person behind the wheel may be trolling for more than pokemon, and you don't want to be the one caught.
10. Find some websites you trust for more tips. I like Silph Road.


You won't know what any of this means until you've played for a while, but by then it will be too late. Trust me.
1. Before starting, you need to find a mentor, someone who has played it for a while over level 10, the higher the better.
2. Install Pokemon Go on your phone (with GPS) and attempt to start it. If it crashes repeatedly, your device might not have the proper OS level. Make sure the clock is set properly and the GPS works, or weird errors will occur. Find another device if it doesn't start reliably.
3. Pick the same color as your mentor (Red, Blue, Yellow). Color is your team alliance, and it's permanent. They will help you with silly questions.
4. When asked to pick a starting Pokemon, walk away three times. The choices they give you (bulbasaur, charizard, and squirtle) are so rare, you'll never see another one, and your buddy will stay CP 10 forever. After the third rejection, you'll get a chance to catch Pikachu. You'll see lots of those later.
5. Make pikachu your buddy to start collecting candy.
6. Settings/sign out, and then sign in as 1 to 5 more people from your team so the password are on your phone. Why? If *anyone* finds something rare or a gym with too few people in it, everyone benefits.
7. If you can, start near an event period like Easter or the one-year game anniversary when rewards are doubled.


In addition to catching everything that moves in balls, you'll learn all the game basics today.
1. Ask your mentor where in town you can find four pokestops in close proximity, with at least one of them being a gym of your color.
2. Walk/bike/drive from one to the next, spinning, and catching everything that moves for an hour. You should get about 2 balls and 2 pokemon at each stop, plus one from the gym of your color. Most of this will be "everywhere" pokemon like pidgeys, rats, spineraks, weedles, caterpies, etc. I call this a garbage run. Don't transfer anything yet. Don't bother to catch any Murkrows/Standlers or other non-evolvers beyond the first.
3. If a pokecenter gives you an egg, immediately put it into your incubator.
At the end of the hour, you will have spun up to 48 times and caught 12 to 50 pokemon. We'll average this at 28, 8 of them pidgeys and 4 weedles. Typically you'll catch 9 different types, and earn about 12000 XP. You'll be half way through level 6!
4. For 12 candy (cheap) evolutions (pidgeys, weedles, caterpies) transfer all but your top 3 to the professor (candy of type /11). For others, transfer all but the best pokemon of that type to the Professor.
5. Starting with the highest CP pidgeot (weedle,caterpie) evolve that pokemon and immediately transfer it. You should be about to do about 3 of these. For evolving and adding to your pokedex, you should earn about 2500 more. Catch one more pidgey do the evolution trick again, bumping you to level 7. Keep your biggest pidgeot around for tomorrow.
6. If you have any eggs, put them in incubators (you should have two) immediately. Put the longest distance egg you can in the 3-use incubator, but put 2km eggs into the infinite incubator for now to get you hatching and pokedex bonuses.


With the basics mastered, we learn to work the system like a pro.
1. Make your initial pass at yesterday's four pokestops and catch the pokemon there (est 8)
2. Choose a NEW place with two overlapping pokestops or ranges a few feet apart. Spin at both and catch everything in sight, say 5 cheap pokemon. Catholic churchs are excellent for this because they are gyms and have a statue of Mary or Jesus nearby that merits a stop. Sports complexes with multiple ball fields and playgrounds also work for people who feel wrong about spinning Mary during church services.
3. drop your incense. For the next thirty minutes, spin at both stops and catch everything that shows up, say 15 more common pokemon.
4. At the end of the incense, weed your bag and evolve the same as yesterday.
5. Ask your mentor to show you how to take down a gym. Find a weak gym of another color, spin first, and then battle. Tap until you win. Place your strongest pokemon in the gym (not your buddy). As pokemon return each day, you get up to 50 poke coins. Buy a new incubator as soon as you can and fill it with eggs.
6. Spin at the gym after taking it for a bonus, and then hit your usual four on the way home. Catch a few new pokemon.
You are now level 8.


Repeat yesterday's exercises, but today, you and your friend put lure modules at the two nearby pokestops. When you clean out your bag, you should be able to evolve your first rattata and ledyba. Don't transfer them yet, but use them for the gym. You should have hatched a new pokemon and registered it to your pokedex about now, too. You should be hovering on the edge, almost to level 10.


Now we mix things up a little in preparation for your key to world domination--the lucky egg.
Visit a nearby town or another part of your town and hit as many stops as possible (say 12). If you find a gym of your color with space (under 6 guards), put one of yours in. Catch whatever you find at the stops or in the road on the way. (say 36 total) Don't transfer ANYTHING until your bag fills up. Then keep one more than the number you need for evolving with the candy you need, two more for sentrets, rats, spineraks, and cheap evolutions.
Each day, you'll be making about 8K in XPs, not much compared to earlier rates, but be patient. You have about 22 evolutions built up by now. Resist the urge, unless you can evolve a Tediursa into Ursarang--they are awesome for gym battles. You can also evolve ONE eevee for gyms. You should be almost level 13 by now. When you put things in gyms, get in the habit of picking your 7th strongest so you have your six best guys for taking gyms.
As you weed your bag, take notes about things you need that you're just shy of for an evolution.
At night, when pokemon come back from gyms, revive them and heal them so you can send your little money-makers back out tomorrow, Fagin.


By now, you're progress seems glacial by comparison. Hold the line. No evolutions, even if you can. You may run out of balls at this point. A good tactic is to only catch one at each pokestop (where you get 2+ on average) until you build up a surplus. For cheap pokemon, don't catch anything over your level times 10. Why do you need a 350 CP pidgey? He'll only bust your balls and waste them.
Make sure the target pokemon are your current largest.
Do the insence trick again as you troll your stops.


Do the two-stop lure trick again for half an hour. Maybe you can loosen up on that hour a day thing. It's the weekend, right?


Catch them all. At the end of this period, you'll be about 5K into level 15, and you have about 60 evolutions queued up. Write down every evolution you're planning to do. Put the cheap evolutions/rats/sentrets at the start of the list, and battle monsters like Tediursas/Eevees the end of the list. Name the biggest two "Tamao" and "Sakura" so they will evolve into rare eevees.
At this level, you are given (as a leveling up bonus and from pokestops) a new berry called a pinap. It doubles the candy get from each successful capture. Here we have a philosophical debate. I try to only use them for rare pokemon. My son laughs at that. "Now you only need 67 magicarps to level up." His strategy during the last event was to pineapp every pidgey. Why? Because then EVERY pidgey you catch can evolve! But be sure to only catch the ones under 150 CP or you're wasting ammo and berries. My daughter pineaps eevies, ponytas, and oddishes for bellossom. In short, cute but deadly things. The kids swayed me to use a *few* on weaker Teddyusrsas and Eevees to speed building my second line of gym bullies.


At home, with GPS on, drop your luck egg, and do all the evolutions. You may need to drop a second if it takes longer than 30 minutes. With 40 new evolutions you'll earn about 100K XPs. This should carry you to level 20. Spend the rest of your hour weeding duplicate furrets, etc. Then order the list by CP and power up your top 6 fighting pokemon with stardust. Flareons get the biggest bang for the buck. You should have purchased and burned through about four incubators by now.


Now you have a serious front line and can begin the next level of operation--raid battle. These give you rare candy and attack power ups. Practice on two-star bosses with your friend. Collect rare pokemon you need from places they've been spotted around the city.  Raid battles give your rare candy to evolve a few of your rarest pokemon and new attacks to teach your front line. When you run out of rare candy, walk the rarest ones as your buddy. My daughter walks Jigglypuff because he only costs a km per candy. My wife walks Pupitar because she needs 100 candies before it can evolve again. Here I am walking my legendary to be able to pump it up more.

Regardless, you decide your course now. You're the one with the ultra balls. On the second day, use your excess coin to buy a premium pass for a five-star boss. You may have to join a Facebook group to track the group battles with 10 people or more. You're gathering evolutions for another lucky egg.


After trolling for a few odds and ends, you drop another egg and hit level 23. You've just caught your first legendary at 2000 CP, and it takes the lead for battles. Only now it takes 100K a level, many days of effort, and raid battles take precedence over work. After beating Lugia five times, you still don't catch him. If only your boss hadn't buzzed in during your final attempt and ruined the throw! Someone tells you about a stretch of highway in North Minneapolis called Victory Memorial with over 20 pokestops and roving gangs you can join in with.


The 13-year-old who mentored you worries that you've become obsessed. She's just whining because you're already a level above her, and she has to go to school. They have one of those cell-phone blockers there, and she can't compete. She's just holding you back now. A level-35 player teaches you to buy raid passes in bulk. You hear rumors of a level 40 master who's Blastoise rides into battle on Articuno, and you must have one. Your kid will have another birthday next year, but this legendary will only be available for another 24 hours. That's what she gets for telling mom about my "disturbing addicted behavior" just because she missed her swim class at the Y.

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