How do Pokemon Go gyms work? Tips on winning battles, training and leaving Pokemon
Published 20/07/2016 | 12:45
Nintendo's 'Pokemon Go' has become one of the biggest apps of all time in only its first week. Now that Pokemon Go has finally launched in the UK what better time to get clued up on the viral gaming sensation and things like candy and shop items and eggs.
Here are some of the fundamentals around Pokemon Go's gyms, located in local places of interest and the scene of your battles against other Pokemon 'trainers'.
How do I find a Pokemon Go gym?
Pokemon Go uses the GPS on your phone to place you in its Pokemon world. On the main screen it is usually difficult to miss the gyms - they're the biggest icons on your map.
Look out for the tall, colourful towers near and far - they're usually located in places of interest or hubs of activity, and Pokemon are often visible at the top of the map icon. There will be a Pokemon sitting above them and they look like they rotate.
How do I enter a Pokemon Go gym?
Once you've literally taken yourself to the nearby church or train station where the gym is situated, you can 'enter' it on your phone.
To interact with the gyms you (i.e. your character) have to be level five or above - not too difficult a feat if you've played around with catching 'wild' Pokemon.
What do I do in the gym?
The first time you visit a gym you'll declare allegiance to one of the game's three teams (more on which below) - your choice affects how your options across different gyms.
Most gyms have already been claimed by a team but there is still a small chance you'll find a 'blank' one, which you can claim for yourself and your new team.
Gyms are, primarily, arenas for battling other trainers' Pokemon. You can battle at both 'friendly' gyms and the gyms under the control of rival teams; the former will help reinforce your team's gym by raising its 'prestige' points, while the latter will chip away at the enemy's prestige, inching it closer to being claimed by your team.
You also have the option to leave a Pokemon behind at your team's gym to aid in its defence. Don't worry, that's not a purely charitable act - you'll be rewarded for your Pokemon's endurance with items and 'PokeCoins' that will help you get stronger.
More generally it may be worth noting for those not already keyed into the basics of the Pokemon games that battling is the most direct way to strengthen your squad of Pokemon, raise their levels and make them capable of more exciting stuff.
If I win a gym battle, is that gym then mine?
No. Your victory will help whittle down the gym's 'prestige points' and, just as you have your own team of Pokemon, so a gym has multiple defenders.
Your team only wins a gym for itself when enough victories have been claimed to get the rival team's prestige there down to zero.
You can help boost the defences of your own gyms by battling there - which will help build up prestige points for your team.
Which team should I pick in Pokemon Go?
You can pick between red, blue and yellow teams - or 'Valor', 'Mystic' and 'Instinct' to give them their respective proper names.
Each team has a legendary bird Pokemon for a mascot. Valor are represented by the fiery Moltres; Mystic are fronted by the icy Articuno; Instinct fly under the sigil of the electric Zapdos.
The yellow team are led, fittingly, by a fellow named Spark and focus on letting individual Pokemon's power shine through.
In charge of the red team is a women called Candela, with more of a focus on Pokemon's traditional goal of training to become the very best trainer.
The blue team have someone called Blanche as their head, and are most interested in ultimate knowledge about Pokemon and their evolutionary forms.
Feel free to let us know if you think it actually matters which team you pick - you're largely choosing whether you want to ally with or oppose your friends and their teams, and whether you want to be in the majority or minority where you live and work.
How does battling work in Pokemon Go?
The essence of Pokemon battles (pardon us, seasoned veterans) is to make the opponent faint, by attacking it until its health reaches zero.
Whereas in previous Pokemon games the combat has been turn-based, in Pokemon Go it's more of a free-for-all - with the ability to dodge attacks by swiping on the screen at the right moment a notable new feature.
To attack, you can tap the screen to unleash a normal move, or hold down your thumb or finger to build power for a special attack.
Battles are one-on-one only and you can only heal damage after the fighting is over. The 'combat power' of your Pokemon will be key in determining the result of the match, as will each Pokemon's type.
Every Pokemon has either one or two 'types'. Each type has a handful strengths and weaknesses against other types and it pays to be well read on these. For example, water Pokemon are super-effective against fire Pokemon, so try to avoid being caught at such a disadvantage, even if you have a higher combat power.
You can boost your combat power and evolve your Pokemon by using candy.