In Pokémon Go, battles only happen at gyms. If you are training with your Pokémon at a friendly gym, you can select one Pokémon to send out against your teammate. If you are challenging an enemy gym, you can select a squad of six Pokémon that will be sent out in turn.

Battles involve one of your Pokémon facing one of your opponents’. If a Pokémon loses all of its HP and faints, it gets called back. If there are any left, a replacement is unleashed. In battle, you can do one of four things:

Important battle tips

Special moves are not always good: It’s tempting to use the special move as soon as it is charged, but if it’s a big one, it might be best to wait until it can be used as a finishing blow. Because the special move will leave you static and unable to dodge, and may have a cool-down time, firing it will open you up to a frenzy of attacks. Also be sure to take advantage by relentlessly attacking your enemies when they are charging up a special.

Practice dodging: In your first battles, you’ll probably just tap furiously away at the attack buttons, and this is probably a decent strategy if your Pokémon has a much higher CP than its opponent. But in order to win close battles, or battles where you are the underdog, you will need to get good at dodging, particularly at dodging big special attacks.

Know your enemy: As we explained in the types section, an important concept in Pokémon is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent. Before going into battle, be sure to check your enemy’s type and use or train Pokémon that have type advantages over the opposing team.

Swap for types: Swapping out a Pokémon leaves it vulnerable to attack for a few seconds, so you may be hesitant to do it. But if you can swap for a type mismatch, like bringing out a Water Pokémon against a Fire enemy, it will be worth it so long as their CPs are close.

You don’t have to go it alone: You can join up with other members of your team when battling to take over enemy gyms. Your teammate can attack the same enemy Pokémon as you, and you can make your way through the enemy gym together.

Don’t let the Pokémon you want to leave at the gym faint: If you successfully take a gym, you won’t be able to leave behind a fainted Pokémon to defend it. So make sure your preferred choice survives the battle.

Healing your embattled Pokémon

Rather tediously, Pokémon Go does not have the lovely Pokémon Centers of other games in the series, where your Pokémon all get instantly healed. You will need to use two types of items to heal your Pokémon after battle:

These items can be picked up at PokéStops, while the stronger potions are only available to players at higher levels.

The end, for now

We are still in the early stages of Pokémon Go knowledge. There are many unanswered questions, such as, “Does tossing a spinning Pokéball increase the chances of a successful capture?” But this guide will be enough to give you an edge over your friends and neighbors.