In addition to PokéStops, you’ll also see Pokémon Gyms—usually larger landmarks—around your city. Gyms are where you can battle other players’ Pokémon for control, pride, and free PokéCoins. You can’t visit gyms until you are level 5 and have chosen a team.
What is a team, and why do I need to join one?
When you get to Level 5, you’ll be asked to choose a team. There are three teams: Team Instinct (yellow), Team Mystic (blue), and Team Valor (red).
Once you pick a team, your job is to fight for control of the Pokémon Gyms around your city—if an opposing team controls a gym, you can battle them for dominance; if your team controls a gym, you can train at the gym or place one of your Pokémon at the gym to defend it from opposing teams.
If you control a gym—or if you have a Pokémon defending a gym (you don’t necessarily have to be the gym leader)—you will get a defender reward of PokéCoins and Stardust once a day. The main incentive to control gyms is pride, naturally, but PokéCoins can be used to purchase items in the Shop.
I just reached Level 5. How do I join a team?
To join a team, you will need to find a gym on your map and tap on it. You will then be asked to join a team.
Which team should I pick?
It doesn’t really matter which team you pick, but if you have friends playing the game you’ll probably want to get on the same team so you can take over gyms together.
The best team, in my unbiased opinion, is Team Instinct!
How do I claim a gym?
You can claim an empty gym by assigning one of your Pokémon to defend it. To do this, tap the gym on your map and tap the assign button in the lower left corner.
If a gym is currently occupied by an opposing team, you can claim it by battling its current defenders. You can take six Pokémon with you into battle. Each time you win a battle, the gym’s prestige will lower—when the gym’s prestige is at 0, the gym will open up and you can assign a Pokémon to defend it.
What is gym prestige?
Gym power is determined by prestige—the higher a gym’s prestige level, the harder it is for an opposing team to conquer it. Every time the gym’s defenders win a battle against an opposing team, the gym’s prestige level gets higher. And every time the gym’s defenders lose a battle against an opposing team, the gym’s prestige level lowers. If the gym’s prestige level is lowered to 0 (by multiple lost battles), the gym opens up and can be claimed by any team.
Gym prestige can be increased if friendly team members train their Pokémon at the gym (more on training below). As the gym’s prestige increases, more defense slots will open up, allowing more friendly team members to assign their Pokémon to defend the gym. (You can only assign one Pokémon to a gym.) Higher-level gyms have more slots—a Level 6 gym can have six defending Pokémon, while a Level 10 gym can have 10 defending Pokémon. With each gym level increase, the maximum prestige level also increases. So a Level 1 gym has a maximum prestige level of 2,000, but a Level 3 gym has a maximum prestige level of 8,000.
How does battling work?
To battle an unfriendly gym, walk up to the gym, tap it, and tap the battle button in the lower right corner. You will see six of your Pokémon pop up—you can swap Pokémon out by tapping them. You may not always want to take your strongest Pokémon into battle—some Pokémon types have advantages against others.
You can switch between your six Pokémon at any time during a battle. To switch out a Pokémon, tap the arrow icon in the lower right corner and tap the Pokémon you want to switch to. You can also run from a battle by tapping the run icon in the lower right corner of the screen. Running from a gym battle will count as a loss.
Once you’ve picked your team, tap Go to enter the battle. You have three moves at your disposal: Standard attack, special attack, and dodge. You’ll want to start off with standard attacks, which you can perform by tapping your enemy. You’ll also want to liberally use dodge, which you can do by swiping to the right or the left. Once you’ve performed enough standard attacks to power up your special attack (you can check this by looking at the blue bars underneath your name), tap and hold to perform your special attack. If you have multiple blue bars, you can perform this attack multiple times (assuming they’re charged).
Why is this enemy Pokémon impossible to beat?
You may encounter a known bug where an enemy Pokémon has 1HP but refuses to die. If you encounter this bug, shut down the app and reopen it. You will have to restart the fight, but all of your Pokémon will be restored to full health.
What happens when my Pokémon get injured or faint?
If your Pokémon get injured, you can restore their HP with Potions and Super Potions, which you can pick up from PokéStops. If your Pokémon faints, you will need to revive them with a Revive, which can also be found at PokéStops. You cannot use items during a battle.
Will my Pokémon heal themselves, or do I need to use potions and revives?
Your Pokémon will not heal themselves—you will need to use a combination of revives (if your Pokémon has fainted) and potions to heal them.
I just beat a gym—but I can’t put my highest-CP Pokémon in as defenders?
You can only put fully-healed Pokémon in gyms as defenders. If you just used a Pokémon to battle a gym, and your Pokémon was injured in battle, you will first need to heal that Pokémon before you can place it in the gym. Gyms can be “sniped” by other players (other players can place their Pokémon in the gym and claim it for their team while it is open) while you are healing your Pokémon, so I suggest keeping “defender” Pokémon on hand—Pokémon you don’t battle with—so you can place a Pokémon in vacant gyms immediately.
If a gym I’m defending gets beaten, what happens to my defending Pokémon?
If a gym you’re defending (either a gym you’re the leader of, or a gym where you’ve dropped a Pokémon) is beaten and taken over by another team, your defending Pokémon will return to you. Your defending Pokémon will be injured, so you will need to heal it before you can use it in gym battles or assign it to another gym.
How can I train my Pokémon at a friendly gym?
You can “train” your Pokémon at a friendly gym (a gym owned by your team) by fighting against the Pokémon defending it. To do this, walk up to the gym, tap it, and tap the train icon in the lower right corner. You can only take one Pokémon into battle when you train.
Does training hurt my Pokémon?
Yes. When you train your Pokémon at a friendly gym, your Pokémon will take damage—whether they win or lose the battle. You will need to heal your Pokémon before you can use it in another battle or place it in a gym. The defending Pokémon (the Pokémon in the gym that you are training against) will not be injured after a training session.
If you encounter a friendly gym with an empty slot, you can drop one of your Pokémon there to help defend it. To do this, walk up to the gym, tap it, and tap the assign button in the lower left corner. When you drop a Pokémon at a defending gym, you will lose the ability to level it up or evolve it until it’s defeated and comes back to you. You will not get a notification if your Pokémon faints or is injured in battle and the gym is taken over by another team, but it will show up in your roster to be healed.
If the friendly gym does not have an empty slot, you will need to train (win against the gym) until its level raises and a slot opens up.
What do I get for being a gym leader?
Gym leaders and gym defenders get Stardust and PokeCoins every 21 hours. If you are controlling or helping to defend a gym at the 21st hour, you will get these benefits by going to the Shop and tapping the shield icon in the upper right corner. The highest CP Pokémon defending a gym determines the gym leader.