Level 20 & Level 21

top-pokemonTook a day off from the Pokemon hunt to rest and recover, but more than made up for it last night. Hitting Level 20 with 100,000 Stardust and a whole bunch of great Pokemon ready to evolve was worth waiting for. As of today I’m within a few thousand experience points of Level 22, and last night I cashed in 8 gyms. That was worth 80 gold and 4,000 Stardust. More on gyms later, today’s big news is that the site is moving to a new domain tomorrow: Level 20 Strategy.

Lots happening with the move, so I don’t have time to go into all the details, but here’s a screen shot of my top gym rats. If you save all your Pokemon that have 90% combat points without being picky about which ones you get, you’ll end up with a great set of fighters. Of course if I want to collect in gyms again tonight I’ll have to make the rounds an hour before my cash time, only one of the gyms I fought in last night looks like it will hold as-is for tonight. That’s what playing Pokemon Go is all about.

Thanks for your feedback and encouragement, check in again tomorrow at the new place!

The Pokemon Go Shop

pikachu-260Most of you saw a great free game, tried it out, and had a lot of fun catching Pokemon. Then you checked in at a bunch of PokeStops, your bag filled up with PokeBalls and Potions, and you got some Pokemon Eggs too. You probably discovered how cool it is to set a Lure at a PokeStop or use an Incense module when you’re walking around. Like all good things, the first one is free, but buying things at the Pokemon Go Shop can get expensive, and fast.

What do you really need, when you’re using a Level 20 strategy? Bag Upgrades and Egg Incubators are the two must-have items. If your budget can handle buying 2,500 PokeCoins for $19.99, you’ll be all set. Your cost per PokeCoin will be 0.8 cents. Here’s the shopping list:

3 Bag Upgrades, at 200 coins each, total 600 PokeCoins.
9 Egg Incubators at 150 coins each, total 1,350 PokeCoins.

That’s it, that’s all you need. You will have 550 PokeCoins left over, and you might want to spend them on a Lure, or an Incense, or a Lucky Egg. When you’re hanging out with friends at a park with several PokeStops close together it’s great to set off two or three Lures next to each other. So go ahead and buy one Lure from the store and pop it in. If you visit someplace special, like a river that has lots of Magikarp, buy an Incense, which gives you a half hour of good fishing. Don’t buy Lures and Incense in bulk, unless you really have no budget limitations.

Never buy PokeBalls. The primary reason to upgrade your bag is to carry enough PokeBalls so that you never need to buy any. Plus you’ll get potions and more powerful balls that you can’t buy. You never, ever want to discard those items. You start with a bag that will hold 350 items and each bag upgrade adds space for 50 more items. Three additional bag upgrades will get you to 500 items and that’s plenty of space to get you to Level 20.

Incubating Pokemon Eggs is a great way to get rare Pokemon. The Pokemon you hatch will usually be at maximum power for your experience level, and they also include extra candy. You get one free Incubator, with infinite uses, and that one should only be used to incubate eggs that hatch after two kilometers of walking.

Incubators you buy incubate three eggs and then they expire. Only use them for the five and ten kilometer eggs, because that’s where you get the rare and uncommon Pokemon, the ones you may never see walking around town. If you have a bunch of two kilometer eggs sitting around waiting for the infinite incubator, no big deal. Some of them are Pidgey and Rattata, and you’re in no hurry to get more of those. But even then, the extra bonus candy you get from incubators will be useful.

Lucky Eggs double your experience points for a half hour. You will use one of them every once in while, particularly when you’re going to Evolve a bunch of garbage Pidgey and Rattata for the experience points. Don’t buy Lucky Eggs in bulk, even if you have an unlimited budget. Most of the time they’re not worth the expense. I’ll be posting details about how to get maximum value out of a Lucky Egg soon.

There’s one last item, the Pokemon Storage Upgrade. There is no reason to consider buying one of those until sometime after you get to Level 20. Most of the time when you get more than three of any particular Pokemon you’ll want to transfer the weaker ones to get an extra candy. The only exceptions are Pidgey and Rattata. You’ll want to keep those until you sit down and evolve a bunch of them for the experience point bonuses.

Level 20 Strategy: Stardust & Candy

Stardust is the equivalent of diamonds in the Pokemon Go game and Candy is gold. Those are the two key items you can’t buy at any price, the only way to acquire them is long-term grinding, i.e. catching Pokemon. Getting Stardust and Candy, and keeping them until Level 20, should be your primary goal during the first part of your Pokemon Go game.

The Pokmeon Go Evolve mechanic requires Candy, Power Up requires both Candy and Stardust. During levels 1 – 19 every Pokemon you find will have a limited Combat Point potential. That’s because if they were powerful you wouldn’t be able to catch them. You should save both key items until Level 20 because you have no way of knowing which powerful Pokemon you will catch when you get there.

Candy is Pokemon-specific, for example you can only use Pidgey Candy on Pidgey, Pidgeotto, and Pidgeot. You can only use Rattata Candy on Rattata. Evolving Pidgey for 12 Candy and Evolving Rattata for 25 Candy are the only two exceptions to the “Don’t Evolve Before Level 20” rule. The reason is simple: these are the only two Pokemon with abundant Candy. Pidgey and Rattata are everywhere, you can get a lot more of their Candy any time you take a walk. I’ll write more on using Pidgey and Rattata Candy to level up quickly soon, in a post about Lucky Eggs.

The Stardust you get from catching Pokemon can be used on any Pokemon you like. No matter how much you think you might like a Pokemon before Level 20, when you get past Level 20 you won’t like it very much. Early stage Pokemon won’t have any true power potential when it comes time to play the long-term gym game. If you use even a single unit of Stardust before you have a huge Pokemon to boost at Level 20 or more, you will be sorry.

After playing the game a total of 15 hours spread over four days I am almost to Level 19 and have 85,125 Stardust. I also have Candy of varying amounts for each of the Pokemon I caught. Eevee grows up very nicely at 25 Candy per Evolve, and I have collected 82 Eevee Candy so far. That much Candy will make three very powerful Pokemon whenever I am lucky enough to find an Eevee in the wild that’s already at 90% Combat Point potential. I should be able to catch one or two of those the week after I hit Level 20.

I can’t wait!

Ten Kilometers

My feet are so sore. I have a blister on my big toe on my left foot. In case you’re wondering 10 kilometers is a little over 6 miles. I finally had to stop just short of Level 19, but not because I wanted to. No Pokemon hunting for me today, that’s for sure, and I will remember to be more careful from now on.

Last night I saw lots of cool Pokemon and caught most of them, the prize catch was a powerful Ponyta. I hatched eggs and some of those were powerful too. I evolved a major fighter before Level 20 to get a 950 Combat Point Pidgeot with Hurricane attack, but I didn’t use a single speck of Stardust to make it even bigger. Note: Pidgeotto with Wing Attack and Twister will Evolve into Pidgeot with Steel Wings and Hurricane, a very solid Gym attacker.

Some nice additions to my Pokedex:

004 Charmander
007 Squirtle
026 Raichu
037 Vulpix
039 Jigglypuff
042 Golbat
047 Parasect
051 Dugtrio
057 Primeape
060 Poliwag
120 Staryu
128 Tauros
129 Magikarp

One good thing about not catching more Pokemon today is that I’ll have time to write about Pokemon Eggs and Lucky Eggs, and explain why grinding up to Level 20 is so important.

Start With Pikachu

When you first begin your Pokemon Go journey there will be three Pokemon on the screen. However, Pikachu is not there. In the original story, back in the first 1998 cartoon, Ash arrived late to get his first Pokemon and received Pikachu. The writers and animators did an excellent job of making Pikachu one of the most beloved toons ever.

While there is no inherent game value to beginning with Pikachu, people want a Pikachu to start. Most of us have a purely emotional attachment to the character. So this what you do:

Go to a park or someplace with a lot of room to walk. When the three first Pokemon appear, walk away without selecting any of them. After 30 or 40 meters they will disappear and reappear at your current location. Walk away again. Keep walking away, and on the fourth time they reappear you will see Pikachu nearby. Just select him and he’s yours.

You can edit your Pokemon names to give them nicknames if you like, and I named my first Pikachu “Pikachu 1” so I wouldn’t accidentally transfer him away for candy later in the game. There are other reasons to use the nickname feature, particularly when it comes time to Evolve your best Eevees at Level 20.

Your job in the beginning is to get as many Pokemon as you can, especially Pidgey, Caterpie, Weedle, and Rattata. Don’t Evolve them, Transfer them, or give them a Power Up, for now. They will give you a lot of Stardust and Candy, and they will generate a lot of Experience Points for you when the time comes to Evolve them. Good luck!

Grind Grind Grind

Day three of the new account grind process is over and I’m up to Level 14. Things change at Level 12, you have to feed the more difficult Pokemon a Razz Berry and also hit them with a Great Ball, rather than the standard Poke Ball. If you don’t, you’ll watch Eevee and Pikachu disappear in a puff of smoke after your first toss. Some nice catches this evening, I found a Rhydon and an Electabuzz with Combat Points over 500. Here are the new additions to my collection:

018 Pidgeot
027 Sandshrew
029 Nidoran♀
033 Nidorino
058 Growlithe
069 Bellsprout
072 Tentacool
100 Voltorb
104 Cubone
112 Rhydon
125 Electabuzz

Then there was the Jolteon that got away…

Total distance walked today was 5 kilometers, which is 3.1 miles. That’s my every day goal and I’m getting into the groove, except for sore feet. Back on the trail tomorrow!

Pokemon Go Addiction

I see Pidgies. I see Rattatas. At times it seems all I see are Pidgies and Rattatas. That is something that will never change in the world of Pokemon Go, unless perhaps you are playing by a large body of water. Then you may find yourself literally drowning in Magikarp. But that’s okay, just keep sucking them into your Pokeballs because it takes a lot to get to Level 20, which is where the game truly begins.

Six kilometers in the bag today, which is almost four miles. It seemed like more because, well, you know, Pidgies and Rattatas. But I didn’t even care, I just kept trudging through the park collecting everything for the Stardust and Candy. It will be another week or two before walking a solid three miles doesn’t leave me a bit sore and tired.

Today I found a nice selection of new Pokemon. You get 500 extra experience points for each new addition to your Pokedex:

010 Caterpie
013 Weedle
017 Pidgeotto
020 Raticate
023 Ekans
032 Nidoran♂
050 Diglett
077 Ponyta
079 Slowpoke
081 Magnemite
096 Drowzee
102 Exeggcute
111 Rhyhorn

I have been really good about sticking to the plan, I haven’t evolved or powered up anything yet. Just grind, grind, grind, learning to throw Pokeballs. At the end of the night I transferred the weakest 80% of my Pidgies and Rattatas to grab the extra candy and keep my Pokemon list relatively clean. However I made two mistakes today: catching Pidgeotto and Raticate. When I sit down to fire up a Lucky Egg and do all of my evolves, at Level 18 or so, I won’t get a double bonus for those two as “new” since they’ve already been captured.

Caterpies, Weedles, and Pidgies are especially valuable when Lucky Egg Time comes around, they evolve for 12 candies. So far I haven’t seen many Caterpies or Weedles, but I’m planning to be out during the day on Friday, maybe I’ll see more then. Rattatas are next on the list for easy evolve bonuses after those three, because they are everywhere and only cost 25 candies.

I ended the night at Level 9, and I’d still be out there stalking the Wild Pokemon if I was a bot and didn’t need food and sleep. This is one of the most addictive games I’ve ever played.