Pokemon Go: battle tips for taking down gyms with ease

By Alex Donaldson
5 August 2016 00:10 GMT

Tips on how to knock the opposing Pokemon out without breaking out a sweat.

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Battles are an important part of any Pokemon game, and Pokemon Go is no exception. Currently battles in Pokemon Go are limited to those that take place around gyms, where players of different teams work to topple rival control of gyms and take it for their own team.

We talk a little about Gyms, Teams and Pokemon battles elsewhere in our guide but there’s mechanics we don’t touch on there that we really should – and so that brings us to this page, with a primer on some of battling’s most important concepts.

Pokemon Go battle tips: how to prepare your team for gym fights

A good chunk of the challenge in Pokemon Go’s battles for any trainer is put to the test before you even start the battle – it’s all about the preparation, the things you do to your Pokemon and your team before you even enter into battle.

Things like what Pokemon you take into battle, what moves they have and their overall level will all be a major factor in your success. This is still an RPG, after all. Here’s some things to take into account:

Understanding how Pokemon CP (Combat Power) works – the measurement of a Pokemon’s abilities

You might notice that every Pokemon you encounter will have a number that’s marked as ‘CP’ by their name even when you first encounter them to catch in the wild. This is displayed in the menus and beyond. This stands for Combat Power, and is the key measurement of a Pokemon’s abilities, replacing the level system from the traditional games.

While Pokemon have moves and the like, their CP is crucial – a large enough CP difference will make a battle trivial or make it near-enough impossible, so be mindful of your CP level. When catching Pokemon be aware too – if you catch a duplicate with higher CP, it may be worth switching to them and sending your duplicate to the Professor. If your CP isn’t high enough to tackle your opponent? Well…

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Increase your Pokemon’s CP – power up your favourite fighters

There’s two primary ways to increase a Pokemon’s CP. The first is through Evolution – when a Pokemon evolves to a more advanced form its CP will naturally rise, as will its overall HP. You have to beware with Evolution however – evolutions have completely different move sets, so be careful not to evolve away from a move you’re fond of.

If you don’t want to evolve, you can also ‘Power Up’ a Pokemon. This offers a similar boost to evolution top CP and HP, but does so without evolving the Pokemon, keeping it in its current form.

Both of these things cost Candy or Stardust to do, so you have to pick which you do carefully.

Pokemon will also receive a slight raise in CP when their trainer levels up. You can find more information on levelling up your trainer in another section of our guide.

Catch Pokemon with a higher CP level in the wild by levelling up

Another advantage of when your trainer levels up is that your overall power as a trainer in the game rises. This means that Pokemon of a naturally higher CP level will present themselves to you in the wild, ready to be caught. Once you’ve levelled up a bit it might be worth going back to re-catch some of the earlier Pokemon to get them at a higher CP level.

Ensure you have the right Pokemon and move types when preparing for battle

Another major element of battle preparation is understanding what Pokemon you’ll be facing off against and building your team to best counter that. All Pokemon in the world of Pokemon Go have either one or two types, and their type determines their strengths and weaknesses. Moves also have types.

A lot of this works a bit like rock, paper, scissors – Fire beats Grass, but Grass beats Water, and Water beats Fire – that sort of thing.

With Pokemon types like Fairy and Psychic things become a little less clear-cut, but don’t panic: we’ve got two special guide pages to help you. One guide explains the strengths and weaknesses you’ll find in Pokemon Go in detail, while this page will help you to catch Pokemon of a specific type if there’s a gap in your team. Prepare for battle wisely!

Build your battle team with Powerful Pokemon and moves in mind

As well as their type, CP level and general strength there’s one other key aspect of Pokemon Go players planning to get deep into gym battling should be aware of – the inherent ‘natural’ power of moves and Pokemon.

While things like type effectiveness will boost or dampen the abilities of a Pokemon and its moves, behind the scenes there are basic statistics that these multipliers are applied to.

A major statistic in Pokemon Go are the basic Pokemon stats of Attack, Defence and Stamina, which are set on a per-species basis. There’s a lot more on these and how they impact battles on a dedicated guide page through this link. We’ve also compiled an up-to-date list of which Pokemon are on balance the strongest in the game based on these stats.

Moves aren’t much different to Pokemon in that they too have top-level statistics that determine their damage, how difficult they are to dodge and how often they can be performed. With a bit of number crunching you can work out the best moves in the game that can do the most damage quickly, and we’ve compiled the top 30 moves on a separate guide page.

Moves are assigned to Pokemon randomly, but you can find out what Pokemon can possibly have what moves as well over on our full Pokemon Go Pokedex. Between those pages and this one, you can be truly prepared for battle.

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Tips for fighting Pokemon Go’s Gym Battles

Once you’ve put in ample preparation and carefully considered the fight you’re entering, it’s time to fight. Inside a fight there’s a few extra things you should consider, and in case the game has left you unclear on any of it, we’ll explain them under a couple of headings here.

Understanding Pokemon Go’s two move types – Charge Moves and Fast Moves

All moves in Pokemon Go come in two forms – Fast Moves and Charge Moves. Each Pokemon will have two moves, one from each category. A few moves in the game (though not many) actually count as both, which is useful.

Unlike in traditional Pokemon games, Pokemon do not learn new abilities and can’t forget old ones unless they evolve. A Pokemon is stuck with its move set, though two Pikachu might not necessarily have the same moves – there is an element of randomness to Pokemon in the wild that you then catch.

Charge Moves deal more damage than Fast Moves but require Stamina and so can’t be used freely and quickly in battles thus their name.

Fast Moves are the exact opposite, as you’d expect – These moves come out quickly and actually help with stamina restoration mid-battle.

A Pokemon’s moves will generally type close to that Pokemon’s type, though there’s no guarantee – many Pokemon can learn moves outside their type, just as in the Nintendo DS Pokemon games. Remember that move type will determine its effectiveness – as covered above in the Pokemon Type note, a water move will do extra damage against a fire Pokemon but not be nearly as effective against grass. Choose your team carefully as a result.

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Pick the right time to Dodge

The third thing you can order your Pokemon to do in a Pokemon Go battle is dodge, which is accomplished with a swipe of the screen.

Take into account what’s detailed in the heading just above this when choosing when to dodge – Fast Moves do a lot less damage than Charge moves, so dodging a Fast Move isn’t anywhere near as useful as dodging a full-on charge move which will have cost your opponent stamina on top of it being more generally damaging.

Keep an eye on your Pokemon’s energy/stamina bar

As mentioned above, whenever a Pokemon uses a charge move it takes up energy – and each charge move you use will remove a gigantic amount off the energy meter, as much as half.

Stamina refills slowly, at a rate of a fifth of the bar per second as a battle drags on. You’ll want to keep a very close eye on this bar throughout battle, as a well-timed extra charge move right when you’re on the back foot could be enough to completely turn the tide of battle.

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