20 tips and secrets Pokémon Go won’t tell you

Pokémon Go is out and its tutorial is depressingly short. There are a ton of secrets and strategies that the game simply doesn’t tell you about. We’ve compiled them all together in one location to help you get started on your own Pokemon journey.

The Target Reticle Corresponds to Pokemon Catch Rate

The circles that you see overlapping wild pokemon are more than a target. You’ll notice that they shrink and grow as you hold your pokeball. When the circle is at its smallest, that’s when your catch rate is highest. So try to throw your ball then. You’ll also notice that circles come in a variety of colors, green, yellow, orange, and red. The closer to red a circle is, the harder it is to catch that pokemon. We recommend calming down orange and red circle pokemon with items, or using special balls.

Turn Off AR for Higher Catch Rates

While it’s cool to see pokemon superimposed over reality, using the game’s AR function actually causes wild pokemon to jitter around and try to synch up with your camera. Turning off AR keeps pokemon relatively still, allowing your throws to be more accurate, and your catch rates to be higher.

Trainer Level, Location, Time, Popularity, and Weather All Affect Pokemon Appearance

There are a ton of things that can affect which pokemon show up in your area. Here are just a few:

  • Trainer Level: Higher level trainers will see higher level and rarer pokemon show up on their pokemap.
  • Location: Pokemon types tend to correspond to the location you are currently in. Bug and grass pokemon tend to be in fields. Water pokemon are near lakes and shores. Poison and Normal pokemon show up in cities. Etc.
  • Time: Certain pokemon, like ghost and dark type pokemon, like to show up primarily at night, so go pokemon hunting at a variety of times.
  • Popularity: Pokemon have higher spawn rates at places that are more frequented by people, and especially other Pokemon Go users. This is why trainers have bad luck finding pokemon in large open fields but tons of luck finding pokemon in department stores.
  • Weather: Pokemon appearance rates change with the weather just like they do location and time. Electric type pokemon like to show up during storms.

Poke Pawprints Signify Proximity

In the lower right hand corner of your screen you can see a list of nearby pokemon with pawprints underneath them. These pawprints signify how close the pokemon are to you. 0 pawprints mean that you only have to amble around your general area to find them. 3 pawprints mean you have to travel quite a distance, 100 meters or more.

The closer a pokemon is to the top of the list the closer you are to it. You can use this information with some simple geocaching skills to hunt down your Pokemon of choice.

  1. Select a pokemon
  2. Walk in any direction in a straight line. If you see the number of pawprints go up, or the pokemon slide down the proximity list, turn around.
  3. When you see the number of pawprints go down, make a note of where you were, but continue walking until you see the number of pawprints go up again.
  4. Once they do go between the halfway point between where the pawprints went down and where they went back up. Turn 90 degrees and start walking.
  5. You are now either walking directly toward or directly away from the pokemon you want. If you see them slide down the proximity list, simply turn in the opposite direction.

Animations Signify Pokemon Movement

You might have seen some random animations in the grass and on the road on your pokemap. These animations usually signify pokemon movement. Head toward them and you will likely find the closest pokemon to you.

Pokemon Don’t Appear Instantaneously

Anyone who has tried Pokemon Go in the last few days has felt the pain of its slow servers. But despite the knowledge that servers are screwing up everywhere, people still assume that pokemon will show up on their map instantaneously. This, unfortunately, is not the case. It takes time for the servers to update pokemon appearance information. Most successful trainers say that you should stop walking every 100 meters or so and wait about five minutes for the servers to catch up, especially if you can’t find pokemon with no pawprints. You’ll find a ton of pokemon popping up around you if you simply take a break once in a while.

The Arc Over Your Pokemon’s Head Corresponds to Its Comparative Level

You may have noticed the arc over your pokemon’s head and how it fills when you power them up. This roughly corresponds to your pokemon’s “level.” The further over to the right the arc is, the more powerful your pokemon. You’ll generally want this arc to be mostly filled in before you evolve your pokemon to get the biggest CP boost.

Pokestops Regenerate At Least Every 5 Minutes

If there is a Pokestop by your work or home, camp there for a while. Pokestops refresh at minimum every five minutes. So you can just hang out and continuously generate pokeballs, eggs, and revives. This is especially useful if your pokestop generates rare items.

Landmark Pokestops Give Better Items

Pokestops are generated based on points of interest in the real world. The more significant the point of interest, the better the pokestop’s items. If you are looking for rare or powerful items, you should be scoping out status and town halls, rather than post offices and local diners.

Look for Moduled Pokestops

If you see purple sparkles around a pokestop that means someone used a module on it. This not only causes the stop to generate more and better items, it also attracts wild pokemon to it. If one is nearby, you should check it out right away.

(Note: News stories have broken about people using modules for nefarious means, such as luring people into muggings. Please be aware of your surroundings at all times and when you can, catch pokemon with a group.

In the lighter side of the news, many stores are using modules on themselves to spur foot traffic. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a new favorite ice-cream place!)

Pokemon Can Be Caught On the Run

I want to note that you should never, ever, ever play Pokemon Go and drive. However, if you are a passenger in a car, or if you are riding on public transit, go nuts. Pokestops need you to be within their area of effect to collect their items. You’ll either need to be stopped, or you’ll need to tap the pokestop just as you enter its range, collect its items quickly, and get out. Pokemon, on the other hand, will stick around as long as you are attempting to catch them, even if you drive past. So throw as many balls as you like and hope it doesn’t try to flee.

The Pedometer Can Be Cheated, and We Suggest You Do It

To hatch eggs in Pokemon Go you need to walk, and some eggs need you to walk a whopping 10 kilometers to hatch them. Surely there must be a way to hatch eggs without actually having to stoop to physical activity! Luckily, there is!

While most people have already figured out that driving in a car will not count toward your egg hatching distance, riding a bike or skating will! Any method of slow transportation works, even if you aren’t “stepping.” So a slow car ride will also help you hatch eggs.

But there are even easier ways to go about hatching eggs. As long as your GPS is sensing some form of motion, it will count the distance traveled. Intrepid Pokemon Go users have found tons of interesting ways to fool the pedometer into thinking you are traveling. Some have tied their phone to their dog’s collar. Some have taped their phone to turntables. I haven’t tried these out specifically, but I can personally note that taping your phone to a Roomba as it cleans your house will count toward your eggs hatching. Heck, even closing and opening the app so that the GPS has to find you again will count toward egg distance.

The GPS Can Be Spoofed, and We Suggest Against It

If you are a power-user, here is a way you can “cheat” Pokemon Go. By downloading a GPS spoofing app, you can set your coordinates to wherever you want. Using this, and altering your phone’s clock, will make it easy to capture any pokemon you like. However, Niantic and The Pokemon Company have said that they will be taking strict action against GPS spoofers, including temporary and lifetime bans. Not to mention, using GPS spoofers might require rooting your phone, depending on the OS you are using, and that could void your warranty, go against your carrier’s Terms of Service, and cause a whole lot of other problems. Sometimes it’s not worth it just to catch em all.

Server Desynchs Can Be Used To Clone Pokemon

Aspiring Team Rocket members may have been upset to realize that you can’t steal pokemon from other players. In fact, it seems like everyone in the general area can catch a wild pokemon once it appears.

This is partially true. Pokemon do disappear once you catch them, but only once the server updates. As was said before, this isn’t instant. So anyone pokemon hunting as a group can catch a wild pokemon. In fact, each wild pokemon that you find will be randomly generated on the spot, leading to vastly differing CP ratings. When Niantic introduces trading, it might be worth it to go hunting as a group so that you can evenly distribute the best CP pokemon to the people who need them most.

Throw Curveballs for Extra XP

While tapping and holding a pokeball, you can spin your finger in a circle to turn it into a “curveball.” Curveballs are exactly what they sound like, a ball that curves through the air and is harder to hit pokemon with. Curveballs greatly increase your XP when you catch pokemon with them. There is also a rumor that curveballs increase your capture rate, but that is not yet confirmed. Regardless, if you can hit with curveballs there is no reason not to use them at all times.

Spend Pokecoins on Lucky Eggs and Incense

Pokecoins are currency you can get by either spending real money on the game, or by successfully defending a gym. They are rare, so you should spend them sparingly. One of the best ways to spend them, however, is the combo of Lucky Eggs and Incense. Lucky Eggs increase the amount of XP you earn whenever you earn it. Incense lures all nearby pokemon to you. Combining the two will skyrocket your levels in no time. Higher levels equals rarer pokemon equals stronger pokemon equals more gym dominance.

Capture and Transfer Repeat Pokemon

You should capture every single pokemon you see, regardless of whether or not you already own one. Simply capturing one gives you at least 100XP, some candy, and some stardust which you can use to power-up other pokemon. You can then transfer the weak pokemon that you don’t want to Professor Willow to get even more candy. In general, you don’t want to keep any more than one of any kind of pokemon. For that matter, any pokemon with less than 100CP is mostly useless, especially in heavily populated areas. So feel free to transfer them all to get more candy.

No One Knows How Eevee Evolves

There are a lot of myths floating around about how Eevee evolves in Pokemon Go. There are no evolution stones in this game so it seems as if eevee’s just choose whether to become a flaereon, vaporeon, or jolteon at random. Don’t believe anyone who says it’s based on move-list or what team you are a part of. The only theory that I have had the tiniest bit of success with, is the gym color theory. This theory states that if you evolve an eevee within range of a gym, it will evolve into a pokemon that corresponds to that gym’s color. So team mystic (the best team!!!) gyms create vaporeons. Still, I have only been able to try this with two eevees so far, and that’s too small a sample size to confirm this theory.

UPDATE: Users on reddit and other places online have discovered at least one way to control Eevee’s evolution. Naming your pokemon “Sparky” prior to evolving will get you jolteon, “Pyro” will produce flaereon, and “Rainer” will give you vaporeon. 

You Can Start With Pikachu

By now most Pokemon Go players know about this, but it’s too late for them to capitalize on it. When you are told to choose your starter pokemon, simply ignore them. Walk a good distance away and they will respawn. Keep doing this and eventually a Pikachu will spawn with them. You can then catch the electric rodent as your starter.

Oh That’s What Battery Saver Does!

In the options menu of Pokemon Go you’ll see a battery saver mode. What this does, is dim your screen but keep the app active when you turn your phone upside down. Note, however, that this does NOT keep the app active if your cell phone screen shuts off by itself, OR if the app starts idling on your OS. You’ll have to toggle your own OS settings for that. Otherwise, battery saver doesn’t really do much to save your battery.

That’s all the tips we have for you right now. Do you have any you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

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