Pokémon GO Walkthrough Guide: Gyms & Battles Explained (How to Get Pokecoins)

Pokémon GO
By: Niantic, Inc. (Nintendo)

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This walkthrough guide will help you make sense of the gyms and gym battles in the iOS and Android augmented reality (AR) game Pokemon GO by Niantic and Nintendo. It explains how the gyms work and how to prepare for gym battles. Feel free to ask for extra help in the comments section.

This guide assumes you know enough about the game to start thinking about competing in gyms. If you’re still new and are looking for other information, try my general walkthrough guide that explains everything else.

See my guide on CP, powering up and evolving Pokemon here before you start thinking about gym battles.

Benefits:

So what are he benefits of gym battles, you may ask? Well, it’s the only way to earn the premium currency, Poke Coins, without spending real world cash. How it works is if you get a Pokemon into a gym, you can then cash out in the shop for 10 coins and 500 stardust. The catch is that you can only cash out once every 21 hours. So if you manage to get into friendly gyms (your team color) that can hold the gym for longer, you can hold several gyms at a time. Then you can cash in for more than 10 coins that day. But once you cash in, you have to wait another 21 hours before you can cash in again. Additionally, you get some experience points for taking down opponents’ Pokemon or training at your own team’s gyms.

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Choosing a Team:

First, ignore the gyms until you’re level 5. At that point, tap on a gym (it’s the tallest thing on the map) and Professor Willow will ask you to choose a team. Yellow is Instinct, Blue is Mystic, and Red is Valor. I chose red because I like fire Pokemon, but choose whichever you like. If you have local friends who play, it makes sense to join the same team as them so you can take over gyms together. But otherwise, it doesn’t really matter that much unless you personally take over some gyms. There’s not much benefit (currently) to being on a winning team without having your own Pokemon at some gyms. It can help to be on a team that is very popular in your area, but here’s no guarantee it will stay that way. And you’ll need strong Pokemon to even share your team-mates’ glory. So just choose whatever speaks to you.

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Now that you’ve chosen a team, let’s talk about taking over a competing team’s gym.

Competing Team’s Gym:

Find a gym of a different color than your own. Tap on it and look at the Pokemon guarding it. Before deciding which Pokemon to use, look at the enemy’s types. Each Pokemon is weaker, stronger, or immune against certain other types. There are a lot of types to keep track of, but it’s basically one big game or Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Then tap on the button to the right to select your team. You can take up to six Pokemon with you into battle. Obviously, take some of your strongest ones (highest Combat Power or CP). You can swap out different Pokemon by tapping on their icons. Once you’re ready, hit the GO button.

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So now the battle. These are not turn-based battles like you’re used to in the old Pokemon games! You need to be on your toes. Once the battle starts, you need to quickly tap the opposing Pokemon to attack. Swipe left and right to dodge incoming attacks. Regular attacks cause a special attack to charge up. Once it’s charged, just hold your finger on your opponent to unleash it. Defeat all the opposing Pokemon by reducing their health to zero and you’ll win the battle.

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So now you own the gym, right? You’re a Gym Leader? Not so simple. A gym has a level and Prestige. When you win a round, the gym will lose prestige. When the prestige and level go down to zero, the gym will turn white. You can then tap on it and choose a Pokemon to stay there and help defend the gym. Make sure it’s strong enough to give the opposing teams a hard time taking the gym back, but also keep in mind that you won’t get the Pokemon back until he gets pushed out of the gym by another team. Also, make sure you get your Pokemon in there fast enough before someone else does. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t hold the slot for you even though you cleared out the gym. I’ve had the game freeze after I cleared out a gym and then the other team took it back before I could get mine in there.

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It’s easy to lose the gym again if your Pokemon isn’t strong enough or other team members don’t help you out.

Train at a Friendly Gym:

If a gym is already taken by your team (in my instance, Team Red or Valor), you can train there or send some of your Pokemon to the gym to help guard it from the blue and yellow teams. But you can only do so when near the gym. If you send a Pokemon to the gym, it will remain there until it loses a battle and gets sent back to you.

To train at a friendly gym, tap the boxing glove icon and then choose a single Pokemon to battle with. You only get one Pokemon for training. And you only help the gym if you defeat at least one Pokemon.

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If you train at a friendly gym and defeat at least one Pokemon, the gym will gain prestige. Help it earn enough prestige and the gym will gain a level. At that point, a new space will open up to take in another Pokemon and you can choose one to add (if you’re fast enough and someone doesn’t beat you to it!)

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Then you just need to hold multiple gyms that way and earn more Poke Coins! But don’t get greedy and miss out on all your coins because you didn’t cash in in time.

You can also put a low-CP Pokemon into a friendly gym if you want to make it easy to continue training there. You’re able to battle your Pokemon against your own Pokemon that’s in the gym. But it’s risky to do if the gym is at a low level. A competing team could end up taking you out faster.

NOTE: Some gyms are currently buggy. The enemy Pokemon (and sometimes even my own) won’t go below 1HP so the battle never ends. I’m not sure how to prevent this, so if anyone does please let me know.

Health & Reviving:

Unlike the old Pokemon games, there are no Poke Centers to heal for free. You have to use potions to heal your Pokemon’a damage and a Revive if the Pokemon fainted altogether. You can find these at some Pokestops, but make sure you dot run out or you won’t be able to take on gym battles.

Augmented Reality Mode (AR Mode):

This doesn’t change much. I find it easier to turn AR off, but oddly enough it seems to bug out on me more often than with AR on.

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And that should be enough to get you on your way to being a Gym Master! If you found this helpful, please share it. And make sure to check out my other guide with lots of other helpful info.

How to Recognize a Pokemon GO Player in the Wild

See my impressions of the game so far.

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13 thoughts on “Pokémon GO Walkthrough Guide: Gyms & Battles Explained (How to Get Pokecoins)

  1. Shawn gupta

    Do you get 10 pokemon coins from taking over the gym immediately or do you have to wait 21 hours before you can claim the first 10?

    Reply
    1. AppUnwrapper Post author

      You can claim it right away. You basically get 10 coins for each gym that you have a Pokemon guarding at the time you cash in. But once you cash in, you have to wait 21 hours before you can cash in again. Depending on how hard it is to hold a gym in your area, you may want to cash out right away and just be happy with 10 coins per day.

      Reply
  2. Simon Lavender

    So there aren’t multiple of those Snake/ Vek things? First come first served? App crashed so they grabbed it, or maybe someone in a flat..I heard the Pokemon music there too! The Pokemon don’t appear AR, just my screen having “bash” effects, should I chuck balls then? A real cat frightened me, thought it was the Snake!

    Reply
    1. AppUnwrapper Post author

      Usually multiple people can get the same Pokemon. But if your device is lagging, you might not see the Pokemon someone else sees. The servers are pretty awful right now. I’ve met people who had completely different Pokemon in their “Nearby” list even though we were standing right next to each other — their phone was lagging.

      Reply
  3. Anthony

    So I must of had my guy up at a gym 20 times n didn’t get on coin I have to hold the gym down for 22 hours to get coins or is it a glitch cause I don’t see a count down either some one plz help

    Reply
    1. AppUnwrapper Post author

      You need to go into the shop page while you have at least one Pokemon in a gym and tap the icon in the upper right corner. You can only do that once every 21 hours.

      Reply
  4. Nicky

    Hi. I was in a gym and there was a button in the buttom left corner, looked like a sail. I pressed it and choose a pokemon from my Dex and now i cannot choose that pokemon in a fight?

    Reply
    1. AppUnwrapper Post author

      That means your Pokemon is in the gym. 🙂 You can then cash out for the 10 Poke coins if you want (but then you can’t do it again for another 21 hours).

      Reply
  5. Leap Frog

    I have a question, say I’ve conquered a gym, placed a Pokemon in there, and I get the ten coins… Then I get beaten straight away… Do I still get coins? Like the remaining times do I get coins- or I’ll just leave everything…

    Reply
    1. AppUnwrapper Post author

      Once you collect the coins, they’re yours and it doesn’t matter what happens to that gym afterwards. You just can’t claim any more coins for 21 hours. So there’s no point, really, to overtake any gyms in that time. I’ve gotten into the habit of just claiming my 10 coins and forgetting about the gyms till the next day. It’s too hard where I live to hold several gyms at a time and I don’t find it worth the effort.

      Reply
  6. Cccccc

    I have battled and defended in many gyms but I never last the 21 hours needed to gain poke coins before the gym is overtaken. Even a level 8 gym that took me an hour to join. Within hours I was out. I’m not spending any more of my own money on this so I won’t be able to do much soon. 🙁

    Reply
  7. Amy

    How do you cash out? & what does the HP # mean? Thank you for taking time to write these guides, I’ve been playing for a few months now, but since I rarely have time to go to the gyms, I’m still trying to figure them out! Is there anyway to raise the CP #, besides powering up the Pokémon with stardust & candy??

    Reply

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