Once you catch a Pokémon, it’s your job as a trainer to, well, train it. There are three aspects of a Pokémon to keep in mind when training in Go:

Improving a Pokémon’s stats

Pokémon in Go don’t have levels and experience points like they do in other Pokémon games, but they can still be made stronger with your help. There are two ways to improve your Pokémon’s stats: give it a Power Up or, if possible, evolve it into a better version of itself.

Power Ups: A Power Up improves a Pokémon’s CP and HP. To perform a Power Up, you need one thing that is fairly straightforward and another thing that is a bit more complicated. The straightforward thing is Stardust, which you automatically collect any time you catch a Pokémon, and will need a certain amount of for each Power Up. The more complicated thing is Candy, which comes in a different form for each evolutionary Pokémon line. What do we mean by “each evolutionary Pokémon line?” For example, even though Pidgey evolves into Pidgeotto, both simply require Pidgey Candy for Power Ups.

 

Evolution: Bringing a Pokémon to its next evolutionary step requires only Candy, no Stardust. But you might need to collect a rather large amount of it. For example, to convert Magikarp—a useless fish—into its badass dragon successor Gyarados, you will need a whopping 400 Magikarp Candy.

Evolving gives a Pokémon a big CP boost, and gives your player a good amount of experience. There is one thing to be careful of when evolving: Your Pokémon’s moves will change afterward. So if you have a highly rare Pokémon with your preferred move, it might be worth leaving it as is until you can catch another one.

A quick note on CP: Not all Pokémon were created equal, and it is simply impossible to create an elite squad just by powering up and evolving common rodents like Zubats and Rattatas. Each Pokémon in fact has a CP limit, which you can see if you go into its detail page.

 

The Pokémon’s current CP level is shown along an arc, and CP cannot go past the end of it. This Beedrill has a modest 130 CP. That number will increase as your player levels up, but some Pokémon are just weaker and will have low maximums.

As you get to a higher level, you will be able to find Pokémon with higher CP maximums, and rarer Pokémon will generally have higher upper bounds. So be sure you are investing in a Pokémon that will have long-term payoffs.

Types

Types are an important concept in all Pokémon games, and Go is no exception. Each Pokémon and each move has a type. Go appears to use the sixth-generation Pokémon type system, which includes 18 types, such as obvious things like “Water,” “Fire,” and “Lightning,” as well as weird stuff like “Dark” and “Fairy.” Each type is effective against some other types, and resistant to others. For example, Water is extremely effective against Fire, but Grass is resistant to Water, while Grass is vulnerable to Fire, et cetera. The permutations can get a bit weird—”Bug,” for example, is highly effective against “Psychic,” and “Dragon” has no effect whatsoever on “Fairy.”

 

The type of a move does not always correspond to that of its Pokémon. A Dark Pokémon, for example, might be able to perform a Psychic-type move. A dragon might be able to do both Fire and Flying moves. And so on. As you build your team, consult a list of Pokémon types (like this one) and make sure you are not heavily vulnerable to any one type and have a favorable matchup against any possible type. (There are also more out-there strategies like using only Normal-type Pokémon, which have just one vulnerability, but we’ll leave that aside for now.)

Moves

In Go, Pokémon have just two moves, a standard move and a special move. When battling, the standard move will be used most of the time, while the special move needs to be charged up over time. Unlike in other games in the series, a Pokémon’s moves can’t be changed, and are assigned randomly. The moves will also change randomly again upon evolution.

Pay attention to a move’s:

The damage is just a number that tells you how much hurt it puts on your opponents. Higher energy requirements mean a special move will take longer to prepare. The type is where more strategy is involved, as some Pokémon are able to balance weaknesses of their own type with advantages in their moves.

When deciding which Pokémon is worth your time and effort to train, make sure it has the moves you want first. You can consult a full move list (like this one) to see which moves each Pokémon is capable of learning, so you can determine which is best for your squad. Also keep in mind that you will want a core fighting team of just six Pokémon—the most you can send out against enemies.

Collecting items at PokéStops

Pokémon Go is based on another popular Niantic game called Ingress. Both titles encourage players to explore the world around them, rewarding them with virtual items when they reach real-life landmarks highlighted by the app. In Ingress, these points of interests are called portals; in Pokémon Go, they’re called Pokéstops. Niantic used a small subset of the location data from Ingress as the basis for Pokéstops in Pokémon Go.

Pokéstops are marked on the game’s map with a floating blue cube. Tapping them will show more details about the landmark, including a photo. Players can only collect items if they are close enough to the PokéStop (sometimes this means you can be across the street from it, sometimes this means you have to get right up to it). If the app deems you’re close enough, swipe the image of the landmark to spin it, and it’ll spit out three or more items. When you claim items from a PokéStop, the icon turns from blue to purple, but PokéStops refresh about every five minutes so you can return to collect more items.

For players who are just getting started, most of the items available at PokéStops are Pokéballs and the occasional egg. Eggs, when placed in an egg incubator, will hatch into Pokémon after players have traveled a certain distance. All players start with one egg incubator, and an additional one can be purchased with PokéCoins.

Once players start leveling up, the items available to them at Pokéstops get more special: