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Posted December 6, 2016 by Scott Gerhardt in Video Games

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Part 1)

I’m often asked “which Pokemon should I keep and which should I get rid of?”  This is a question that is highly subjective.  It really depends on what kind of player you are.  Basically, choose which type you are:

  • Collector.  You want to catch ’em all and you just don’t care past that.
  • Hunter.  You enjoy the hunting aspect of the game more than gym battles
  • Battler.  You enjoy gym battles more than than hunting
  • Trainer.  You enjoy hunting and battling equal near equally

From here, you need to select the intensity with which you play the game.

  • Casual.  It’s something fun to do on the side or with friends or family.
  • Regular.  Doesn’t need an excuse to open the app, but can play for a half hour or hour when they do play and that is reasonably satisfying for them
  • Hardcore.  These are the people you see in the same place fairly often, or actively move around trying to find specific nests.  They will play for hours at a time, and do this a minimum of 3 days a week, usually more.
  • Professional.  These are the guys who are salivating at the idea of PvP coming out.  They will stop at nothing to be the best, fastest, most impressive ones out there.  These people are minimum 5 days a week, and usually 6 or 7.  When they play, it can easily consume most of a day.  They are consumed with being better than everyone else out there.

If you think I have missed a type of player or have an intensity too broad, let me know.  So now, you have to start combining these terms.

  • Collectors have very stated goals.  They are by definition casual or regular, and any advice given would apply regardless.
  • Professionals are by definition Trainers.  They might do one more than the other, but overall, since they see this almost like work, they will do whatever activity makes the most sense at that time, and any advice for professionals will apply across the board.
  • Casual Hunter
  • Regular Hunter
  • Hardcore Hunter
  • Casual Battler
  • Regular Battler
  • Hardcore Battler
  • Casual Trainer
  • Regular Trainer
  • Hardcore Trainer

So now that we’ve successfully slapped a label on everyone we can get down to the nitty gritty.  Now, most of the advice I am going to give is going to be heavily based on numbers and how GO is setup overall.  While there will be opinion thrown in there, there are generally mathematical reasons why the advice is what it is.  There are a few things out there that could just trump my suggestions.  One has to do if you’re particularly attached to a Pokemon for whatever reason.  It might be your favorite, it might be your first battler…whatever it is, if you want to keep something because you just want to, do it.  It’s a game – games should be fun.

So the in part 1 of this article series, I want to discuss is what Pokemon are you looking for?

For Collectors:  Your collection is more like a museum than anything – you want cool stuff to show off.  Since you’re probably not going to play that often, I would generally just keep whatever your top CP Pokemon is for each kind and ship the rest to the professor.  For things like Charizard, Blastoise, or things with evolutions, make sure you try to get 2 or 3 of them so you can have each one of those Pokemon.  And it’s okay to be a “show off” collector.  If you want collect a dozen Dragonites because it’s cool, I encourage that.  For the most part, having the big CPs is the cool part, so you want to be able to power things up for as little stardust and candy as possible.

For Casual and Regular Hunters:  My advice is pretty close to what I give for the collectors, though I personally would keep 2 of each Pokemon – one that is high CP and one that is high IV.  For those who don’t know, IV, or Individual Value, is a hidden stat that each Pokemon has, adding anywhere from 0-15 points to it’s Attack, Defense, and Stamina values.  The higher the IV, the more potential that Pokemon has if leveled up.  This will be your eventual goal, though because you’re not playing as much, it could be a rather long process, thus the need to keep a good CP as well while you grind whatever candy you need.  Otherwise, the rules for collectors apply for you as well.

Hardcore Hunters:  You’re looking for that show-off collection that is not only quantity, but also quality.  For you, trying to get 100%, 98%, 96% IV Pokemon is the goal because you know how hard they are to get.  I personally just don’t get rid of anything 96% or better for now.  Certainly you can consider move sets if you’re looking to break a tie on what to keep and what to shred, but you can’t see movesets anyway when you take the screen shot of your two pages of Snorlax.  Catching any old Pokemon and leveling it up isn’t special, so feel free to get rid of anything without a high IV.  If you’re only a casual battler, this should not be a problem for you at all.  Save those best IV ones and shred everything else.

Casual Battler:  You’re going to want a nice army of fatties to be able to battle with and slap into gyms.  For the most part, I would be fine with taking whatever top CP Pokemon you have.  You should consider the movesets, though, some.  Understand that Pokemon movesets can be different for offense and defense.  So many sure you distinguish which one you’re using it for.  On defense it doesn’t matter with variety, so just get the biggest ones you can that are good for defense.  On offense, you can only take 6 Pokemon into a fight, so having a bunch of the same type won’t do you a lot of good.  I’d try to figure out what a good offensive lineup would be – a pool by which you can choose from to utilize matchups in the gyms.  You’ll probably keep up to about 2, maybe even 3 of any 1 Pokemon or Pokemon-type so that you can overload your army with them if a gym happens to be particularly weak to it.  You probably won’t have a lot to choose from, so just initially try to get a reasonable quantity of higher CPs so you have your battlers, then you can replace them over time as you get better ones.

Regular Battler:  You should be looking at a mix of good CPs and good movesets.  Very high IVs with good moves are fine to take if they are low CP – you can power them up later, but since you won’t be farming as much candy and stardust, you need to make sure that you’re going to have things that you can battle with now.  Movesets are far more important than IVs, so even if its a 100%, if its move set is bad, it may just not be worth keeping.  An exception might be having some that are just blatantly high CP ones for defense so when you stick them in a gym, they are going to be near the top of the gym, and thus keeping your guy there longer.  Otherwise, train as many defensive Pokemon as you like, and same advice for you that I gave casuals on offense – keep 2 or 3 of each types to utilize having good matchups.

Hardcore Battler:  You are almost completely about the moveset, mostly regardless of CP or IV.  I personally think it is a good idea usually only deal with ones with a 50% IV or better, but that’s mostly a low bar to make sure you get something in there you need.  There isn’t a huge difference in percentages between a 50% and 100% IV Pokemon; generally only looking at maybe 3-5%.  Moveset, though, is absolutely vital here.  On evolutions, you generally just don’t know what moveset they are going to get until they get evolved.  Now, in the process of leveling, you’re going to be evolving several of a kind.  If it only goes to Stage 1, you can start with your top CP Pokemon and evolve it.  If you get a good moveset, fantastic.  If you don’t, then you might just transfer and try again.  You don’t want your collection cluttered with Pokemon you won’t be battling with.  For stage 2’s, it is a lot trickier, because you need to evolve twice.  So, since you have no clue after you spend the first evolution candies what the 2nd evolution’s moves are going to be, you need to hedge your bets on those with either exceptionally high CPs or exceptionally high IVs – at least make it so if you hit, you’ve got something good to work with.  I wouldn’t even consider anything under a 75% IV and under level 20 for these.  Those are not ridiculous benchmarks to hit, and considering you only have anywhere between a 1 in 3 up to 1 in 6 chance of getting what you want, make sure you have a solid foundation to build off of.  Movesets can often mean as much as a 30-40% swing in damage even for 2 Pokemon at the same level, CP, and IV.  It is the greatest stat.  Figure out the Pokemon’s best movesets for offense and defense.  You’ll start like a Regular Battler to just get a collection of stuff to use going, but you should be actively pursuing getting better movesets until you have the best, then to a lesser degree, look for better IVs and CPs.  Like other Battlers, stock up on good defenders regardless of types.  It’s fun to have 25 things in a gym at once – that’s how YOU show off.  For attacking, you can go a bit more wide than other battlers.  You understand more about not only the Pokemon types, but the type of moves those Pokemon have.  You are probably going to have an attacking pool of closer to base 18-24, plus any duplicates.  Figure out what Pokemon you’re going to see and build your army around what makes the matchup(s) the best.

Professionals:  Professionals are going to care about one thing:  being the best.  If you’re a professional, you are very likely looking towards one thing:  PvP combat.  That means that besides having Pokemon which are good gym battlers and good gym defenders, they also need ones that can go against player controlled characters.  All three of these can be 3 different Pokemon, especially with the first two having one aspect or another controlled by an AI that operates on a predictable schedule.  First you have to do your research on which Pokemon actually work best.  That’s a different article, but many of the pro-level players already know where to go for those.  From there, like Hardcore Players, you want to determine 18-24 Pokemon to use for Gym Offense and another 12-18 for PvP.  There will likely be some overlap, so you will likely end up with something around 27-36 total, though attempting to duplicate either directly or through another Pokemon accomplishing a similar task each one at least once for the Gym Battles will up your total to about 45-54.  It can be presumed on PvP that you will not know your opponents lineup when you select yours, thus less need to as diverse an arsenal.  On top of this, you are looking at obtaining as many defensive Pokemon as possible.  You’re going to want to try to insure that you have 10 Pokemon in gyms every day, which often means having a route of 25-30 gyms, so you need at least that many defensive Pokemon.  In this case, you would prefer that they not overlap with the ones you use for offense, so this brings the total you need to somewhere around 70-84, though I would be hesitant to stop at even 30 defensive if you have a strong team in the area that can attack and take over many gyms at once. Even with offensive and defensive, with Gen 2 right around the corner, you may be upping the number for offense and defense by a good half dozen.  And while you certainly can’t start with the ridiculous army, this is one that will take time an tenacity to build.  For the ones on offense, IV is not as important as moveset and CP.  When you’re attacking AI-controlled Pokemon, you can use your skill as a player to overcome the small percentage point difference.  For defensive, you certainly want to take whatever you can get and then add more as you get better, with order of important being moveset, CP, and then IV.  It’s a good idea to even keep them somewhat numbered so you know what order to put them in gyms.  This might also assist in determining which gyms you put which Pokemon in if you can chart it out some.  For PvP, though, this is where you have to get and select the best of the best.  Here, even a 1-2% difference between good players could mean the difference between winning and losing.  You will need to IV and move hunt.  This is extremely difficult as it can be very random and take a lot of time, effort, and patience.  This is one of the reasons the pro-level players can often spend 10-12 or even more hours a day, usually 5, 6, and even 7 days a week.  You need to walk a lot, hatch a lot of eggs, and hope to find the Pokemon you need through sheer force and repetition.  You might evolve one 15 times and never find the moveset you need.  That’s where you go for the 16th and so on.  Since as of the writing of this article, PvP has not been released, no matter who you are, you have time to accumulate what you need.  On top of this, you have to expect a vanity aspect from these players as well who will likely try to get one Pokemon of each final form with the optimal move set and very high IV, regardless if they will be used in battle..

So that has us set for Part 1.  Part 2 will discuss where you should allocate resources for these various Pokemon – which ones should you make bigger, how big, and which ones should you just be content with leaving alone.

Keep Playing Everyone!


Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here