By: Niantic, Inc. (Nintendo)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.