Pokémon Go exploded over the weekend, becoming the world's most popular mobile game almost literally overnight. But true to the "you-teach-me-and-I'll-teach-me" ethos, the app doesn't come with many instructions. It's basically up to you to figure out how to play.
Fortunately, none of us are playing in a vacuum: There are already dozens of localized subreddits, themed Facebook groups in every imaginable language and country, and workplace Pokémon Go Slack channels — well, at The Washington Post, at least. The denizens of our #pokemon_go channel have been playing and posting obsessively since the game came out last week. So we polled them on their top tips ... and ended up with the following!
• The floating leaves that appear as you walk around mean that Pokémon are in that vicinity and that you may encounter some if you head over there.
• The tracker in the bottom right corner tells you how close nearby Pokémon are — each footprint is approximately 100 meters. Keep an eye on this as you walk to see if the footprints increase or decrease. If they decrease, you're going in the right direction.
• You can find pretty much every type of Pokémon everywhere, but they do tend to be densely populated in their own "habitats" — e.g. water Pokémon near ponds, lakes, rivers, etc. Supposedly, fire Pokémon congregate near gas stations.
• Incense and lures both attract Pokémon to you: The difference is that a Lure is attached to a pokéstop and can be used by players near you, while an Incense follows your location and can't be shared. Both can be purchased in the shop or gained through level-ups.
• Take the bus to hit a ton of pokéstops.
• Turn the AR slider off when trying to catch Pokémon. It makes it easier since you don't have to move your phone around to "find" the Pokémon: A generic screen will show up instead, and you only have to focus on throwing the ball.
• Pokémon are easier to catch if you wait until the colored circle is smallest.
• The colored circles have different meanings, too: Yellow and red indicate that Pokémon are harder to catch; green indicates they're easier.
• You can put spin on a pokéball before you toss it by dragging it in circles.
• Once you catch a Pokémon don't move your camera, because it freezes the game and you have to restart.
• Training and evolving your Pokémon
• Be aware of your Pokémon CP, or combat power — it expresses how likely that Pokémon is to win in a fight. You can arrange your Pokémon display by CP so you can see who's the strongest at any given time.
• When you have extra Pokemans, you have the choice to keep them (which doesn't really do anything) or you "transfer" them to hot Professor Willow. Willow will then give you one "candy" for that type of Pokémon, which you need (along with stardust) to feed to the Pokémon to upgrade them, or evolve them. It doesn't matter how strong that Pokémon is, you just get a single candy. So when you get new candy, feed it to the highest CP Pokémon — there's no point spreading it around.
• You should power-up your Pokémon before you evolve them. You don't want to get stuck investing in a Pokémon who evolves to have a bad moveset.
• You might also want to wait until Level 9 to evolve your Pokémon. Once you hit Level 9, you'll get something called a Lucky Egg, which gives you double experience points and evolves all your Pokémon like crazy.
• If you enjoy meeting new people and making new friends, start a Lure module at a pokéstop.
• If you pop a Lure at a pokéstop, Pokémon will just show up there as opposed to you having to walk around. So yeah, Lures are basically people here at work wanting to catch Pokémon while they're stuck here.