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Opinion 23 pro Pokémon Go tips, from people who spent the whole weekend playing it

(Courtesy of Abby Ohlheiser)

Pokémon Go exploded this weekend, becoming the world’s most popular mobile game almost literally overnight. But true to the “you-teach-me-and-I’ll-teach-me” ethos, the app doesn’t come with many instructions. It’s basically up to you to figure out how to play.

What the heck is Pokémon Go? An explainer for the out-of-touch and/or old

Fortunately, none of us are playing in a vacuum: There are already dozens of localized subreddits, themed Facebook groups in every imaginable language and country, and workplace Pokémon Go Slack channels — well, at The Washington Post, at least. The denizens of our #pokemon_go channel have been playing and posting obsessively since the game came out last week. So we polled them on their top tips … and ended up with the following! (Psst: Do you have good tips that the #pokemon_go hivemind missed? Email them to and we’ll keep updating this.)

See how Pokémon Go works, and why everyone's so crazy about it. (Video: Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Finding Pokémon

  • The floating leaves that appear as you walk around mean that Pokémon are in that vicinity and that you may encounter some if you head over there. — Shelly Tan
  • The tracker in the bottom right corner tells you how close nearby Pokémon are — each footprint is approximately 100 meters. Keep an eye on this as you walk to see if the footprints increase or decrease. If they decrease, you’re going in the right direction. — Shelly Tan
  • You see that little box in the lower right corner? If you select a specific Pokémon in that tracker it will focus on just that one Pokémon. The box will “pulse” if you’re getting closer! — Tim Wong
  • You can find pretty much every type of Pokémon everywhere, but they do tend to be densely populated in their own “habitats” — e.g. water Pokémon near ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. Supposedly, fire Pokémon congregate near gas stations. — Shelly Tan
  • Incense and lures both attract Pokémon to you: The difference is that a Lure is attached to a pokéstop and can be used by players near you, while an Incense follows your location and can’t be shared. Both can be purchased in the shop or gained through level-ups. — Shelly Tan
  • Take the bus to hit a ton of pokéstops. — Tauhid Chappell

Catching Pokémon

  • Turn the AR slider off when trying to catch Pokémon. It makes it easier since you don’t have to move your phone around to “find” the Pokémon: A generic screen will show up instead, and you only have to focus on throwing the ball. — Gene Park
  • Pokémon are easier to catch if you wait until the colored circle is smallest. — Daniel Hoerauf
  • The colored circles have different meanings, too: Yellow and red indicate that Pokémon are harder to catch; green indicates they’re easier. — Kiki Simpson
  • You can put spin on a pokéball before you toss it by dragging it in circles. — Victor Weiss
  • Once you catch a Pokémon don’t move your camera, because it freezes the game and you have to restart. Noob mistake on my end. — Tauhid Chappell
  • Running low on pokéballs? Don’t forget to quickly tap on stray pokéballs from when your toss misses during a catch attempt — the pokéball will be returned to your inventory! — Tim Wong

Training and evolving your Pokémon

  • Be aware of your Pokémon CP, or combat power — it expresses how likely that Pokémon is to win in a fight. You can arrange your Pokémon display by CP so you can see who’s the strongest at any given time. — Gene Park
  • You need candy and stardust to train Pokémon. Stardust can upgrade any Pokémon; candies are specific to individual types. You can trade in Pokémon for candy of that type, so capture them all, even if you have duplicates. — Chris Nguyen
  • When you have extra Pokemans, you have the choice to keep them (which doesn’t really do anything) or you “transfer” them to hot Professor Willow. Willow will then give you one “candy” for that type of Pokémon, which you need (along with stardust) to feed to the Pokémon to upgrade them, or evolve them. It doesn’t matter how strong that Pokémon is, you just get a single candy. So when you get new candy, feed it to the highest CP Pokémon — there’s no point spreading it around. — Gene Park
  • You should power-up your Pokémon *after you’ve fully evolved them. You don’t want to get stuck investing stardust and Pokémon candies in a Pokémon that evolves and ends up with a bad moveset. — Tim Wong [This originally said before instead of after. My bad! That was a poor Slack transliteration, and had nothing to do with Tim’s Pokémon prowess.)
  • You might also want to wait until Level 9 to evolve your Pokémon. Once you hit Level 9, you’ll get something called a Lucky Egg, which gives you double experience points and evolves all your Pokémon like crazy. — Oleg Gogovykh

Hacking ‘Lures’

  • If you enjoy meeting new people and making new friends, start a Lure module at a pokéstop! — Darpan Shah
  • If you pop a Lure at a pokéstop, Pokémon will just show up there as opposed to you having to walk around. So yeah, Lures are basically people here at work wanting to catch Pokémon while they’re stuck here. — Gene Park
  • Work in an office where there are enough nerds to coordinate a Lure placement schedule. — Abby Ohlheiser

Preventing battery and data drain

  • You can enable Battery Saver mode in the settings. Once it’s on, hold your phone facing down while you’re walking. It turns off your screen and slows down GPS refresh, but it still vibrates when a Pokémon appears. — Chris Nguyen
  • Turning off AR can also save battery a bit. But it’ll be less fun. — Oleg Gogovykh
  • Stay on WiFi as much as possible. — Jason Wong

Do you have good tips that the #pokemon_go hivemind missed? Email them to, and we’ll keep updating this.

New mobile game ‘Pokémon Go’ takes the world by storm

epa05421306 Two high school students play with the new game 'Pokemon Go' on their smartphones on Flinders Street in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 12 July 2016. Pokemon Go, a Global Positioning System (GPS) based augmented reality mobile game, is proving to be 'enormously' popular since software development company Niantic opened access to it on 06 July in the US. EPA/JULIAN SMITH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT (Julian Smith/EPA)

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