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How To Find And Dominate Gyms In Pokemon Go

You can run around town all you want in Pokémon Go, but your efforts are wasted if you're not testing your mettle by battling opponents at every gym in sight. Have you properly trained your Pokémon? Have you leveled them properly? Have you spent enough time Pokéhunting? All these questions are answered when you try to take over a gym—but you just can't go into a battle blind, without a strategy. If you want your Pokémon to stand proud when the fighting's over, you need to do a little homework first. And that's where we come in: this guide arms budding Pokémon masters with enough tips and tricks to dominate like Ash Ketchum himself.

What are gyms?

Once you improve your character to level 5, the ability to join a gym is unlocked—and with it, the ability to do battle with rival trainers and the Pokémon they've collected. You can find gyms on your map quite easily: they're the massive spires dotting the landscape around you, usually adorned in the colors of whichever team happens to be in command of that particular location. The platform at the top is where you'll see that gym's most powerful Pokémon, owned by the gym leader—the position all serious Pokémon Go trainers covet most. Tap on the gym and you'll see all the Pokémon rival trainers have left behind; from here, you'll decide if the Pokémon you've got are powerful enough to defeat the dastardly lineup before you. Gyms are often located at churches and parks, but they can really show up just about anywhere. So always be on the lookout!

How do gyms work?

Before you take over a rival team's gym, you should read the gym's stats first so you know what you're getting yourself into. When you enter (a simple tap on the gym from the overworld map should do it), you'll see the following attributes in the top right corner: gym name, power level, the names of trainers who have left behind Pokémon to defend it, and prestige. The power level (which maxes out at 10) tells you how many slots of rival Pokémon have been filled. If it's a Level 6 gym, that means there are six Pokémon you'll have to fight through. Battles are all about lowering a gym's prestige, which you can think of as its health; the more fights you win, the more you chip away. Prestige usually changes in increments of 1,000, and if you want to take over someone else's turf, you're going to have to defeat your rivals a few times. But once you do, you'll get to select one Pokémon from your Pokédex to leave behind as the new leader of that gym.

Choosing the right Pokémon for the job

Unless your Pokémon are particularly high-level, you're going to want to do a little reconnaissance before you jump into a gym battle. Flick through the opposing lineup, paying particular attention to the types of Pokémon you'll be fighting. All Pokémon have a type. For example, a Vaporeon is a water type and deals water damage. Some have two types, like Scyther, who's a bug and a flying type Pokémon.

Knowing a Pokémon's type not only clues you into the kind of damage they could dish out, but also the types of attacks they're weak against. Set your lineups according to the strengths and weaknesses of your Pokémon versus the ones in the gym. How do you figure that out? Easy! The internet is loaded with weakness charts (like the one above) that let you know exactly what type of Pokémon you'll need to win a fight. Let's say you're fighting a Growlithe, which is a fire type Pokémon. Look for fire on the top of the chart and then move down the rows until you see what it's weak against, which is represented by a green square. According to the chart, fire types are weak against water, ground, and rock type Pokémon. They are somewhat less susceptible to fire, grass, ice, steel, and fairy types. But don't forget this also applies to you! If you bring a water type into a gym with a couple of electric types, you're in for a world of hurt.


The three basics of fighting

Rather than Pokémon's traditional turn-based RPG combat system, Go features a real-time fighting mechanic that gives players three moves to perform at any time. The first is a simple basic attack, which can be done by tapping the Pokémon you have selected during the battle. Some Pokémon, like Eevees, unleash their basic attacks much faster than others, so make sure you choose your Pokémon wisely. The second move is a special attack, and each Pokémon has one. They usually dish out a tremendous amount of damage. Special attacks can be performed by holding down the screen during battle when the blue bars below your health meter have been filled to their max. A well-timed special attack can be the difference between getting your butt kicked and becoming the leader of the gym. The third move is dodge. By swiping left or right you can make your Pokémon jump out of the way of an oncoming attack, but you need to be quick. Dodging takes some practice, and requires a keen observation of your opponent's movement to properly execute. A good rule of thumb is to pay close attention to the flashing ring of light surrounding your opponent that appears just before they attack. When you see that, swipe. It's a difficult move to master, but if you get it right, you can outlast even the strongest gym leaders.

Taking over a rival gym

Once your team is set, just hit "go" and you'll be thrust into your first battle. Remember: depending how many Pokemon the gym has stocked, you could be in for a long fight, so stock up on health and revive potions! Using the three moves at your disposal, you'll make your way through the lineup of rival Pokémon a few times over until you've whittled away enough of its prestige that the gym's color shifts to a neutral gray. At that point you'll be able to add your own Pokémon and hope fellow members of your team add their own Pokémon to strengthen your gym's defenses. If you're really lucky, you may come across a "blank" gray gym that, for some reason, had its prestige lowered was and left vacant. Feel free to sneakily add yours when no one's looking!

Buffing your own team's gym

Not every gym will be under the control of a rival team. You'll come across plenty adorned in your own team's banners. If you're team Mystic (blue) and you see a gym under the control of fellow Mystics, you can add yourself to its roster of trainers. Raising a gym's prestige by fighting members of your team will eventually mean you can add your own Pokémon to the gym, stacking the deck against rival teams who dare attempt to take over your turf. Gyms can have a max of 10 levels, or 10 Pokémon, that get progressively more difficult as they go. If you want to make the takeover of your gym even more difficult, leave behind a Pokémon with attacks that don't match their type. It'll confuse players and throw off their strategies.

Reaping rewards

It you're fortunate enough to have one of your Pokémon stationed at a gym for more than 20 hours, you'll be rewarded handsomely. Navigate over to the shop menu and press the green shield emblem. You'll net 10 Pokécoins for each Pokémon defending a gym—and 500 stardust, so you can evolve your Pokémon to further improve your chances of taking over and defending gyms. But why wait 20 hours to claim a reward? The second you take one over, you can head into the shop and claim some loot—but you'd better act fast, because gyms can change hands quickly.

Getting kicked out

At some point after taking over a gym you might look at your Pokédex and notice the Pokémon you left behind to defend it has been returned with its health bar depleted, the little blue symbol signifying its placement at a gym gone. This means someone has taken over your gym. It can be soul-crushing, especially if you fought long and hard to take it over in the first place. But that's the nature of the game. Look at the bright side: now you get to dominate them all over again!