Pokemon Go offers you a way to enjoy your favorite animated creatures on the... Go! (Too much?) There are lots of activities to do with them, and your ultimate goal, as always, is to catch them all! Of course, while you're at it, you'll probably also need to do some fighting.

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Combat in the Pokemon series has always been a lot more complicated than it looks. There are tons of details hidden from the player, even as there are tons of details that they know, too. We're here to help you unravel the mystery and get started building an excellent team of your own!

A Pokemon's Basics: Type, Attacks, & Stats

1. Type

All Pokemon have at least one, if not two, "Types." For example, Bulbasaur is Grass-Type and Poison-Type. The Pokemon's Types define it. It will have a primary and secondary Type, denoting their importance. Grass is Bulbasaur's primary Type, making Poison its secondary Type. In addition, moves and attacks also have Types, but they only ever have one Type.

A Pokemon's Type, and the Move's Type, are taken into account whenever it is attacking or defending. We'll discuss defense in this section, and attacking in the section below.

When your Pokemon is defending from an attack dealt by its opponent, its Type determines how well that attack will land - which is called the attack's "effectiveness." The more effective an attack is, the more damage it does. For example...

Attack Type Pokemon Type Effectiveness Damage Modifier
Psychic-Type Attack Fighting-Type Pokemon Super Effective 1.6x
Flying-Type Pokemon Effective 1x
Steel-Type Pokemon Not Very Effective 0.6x
Dark-Type Pokemon Resistant 0.4x

2. Attacks

Every Pokemon has access to a small pool of attacks that they can learn. There are two types: a Fast Attack and a Charged Attack. You can change which Fast Attack and which Charged Attack your Pokemon knows by using a TM; read our in-depth guide for more guidance on that.

Fast Attack The attack that the Pokemon will use whenever you tap the screen. All Pokemon only ever know one Fast Attack at a time.
Charged Attack An extra-powerful attack that must be "charged" by landing Fast Attacks. All Pokemon know at least one Charged Attack, and most Pokemon can learn a second Charged Attack by spending Stardust and Candies.

When choosing your Fast Attacks and Charged Attacks, you should consider the following stats of the move:

Damage (also known as Power) Refers to the actual damage done to the opposing Pokemon. You can see this number in-game next to the move when looking at a Pokemon.
Cooldown The length of time that the Pokemon must wait before performing the move again.
Damage per Second (DPS) The attack's damage, divided by the cooldown length, gives you the move's DPS so that you can compare it against other moves.
Energy Energy is what Fast Attacks generate to power the Charged Attacks. When looking at an energy statistic for a move, it indicates how much energy the move generates each time it is used.
Energy per Second (EPS) The attack's energy generation, divided by the cooldown length, gives you the move's EPS so that you can compare it against other moves.
Energy Meter Refers to how much energy a Charged Attack requires before it can be used.

You'll have to investigate the Attacks that your particular Pokemon can use, but we can give you a couple of tips, too.

First, some Attacks are only available to Pokemon who have been caught during special events. For example, only Ho-Oh caught during the Pokemon Go Tour: Johto event can have the Sacred Fire Attack. In general, you'll find that these exclusive Attacks are much better than any of your other options.

Second, you should be aware of the Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB), which increases an Attack's damage by 20 percent. When a Pokemon attacks, it gets the STAB if the move it is using is the same type as the Pokemon. For example, Bulbasaur is a Grass- and Poison-Type. If it used a Grass-Type Attack (like Vine Whip) or a Poison-Type Attack (like Sludge Bomb), the damage done to the opponent would go up by 20 percent.

Third, always consider how your Fast Attack and Charged Attack are going to interact with each other. You don't want a Fast Attack with a low EPS and a Charged Attack with a large energy meter. There's some wiggle room here and different people have different preferences, but your biggest mistake would be to completely gloss over this aspect.

3. Stats

A Pokemon is measured on the quality of three traits: its Attack, Defense, and Stamina. The image above shows how you can check a Pokemon's stats with the PokeGenie app.

Every species has 'base' stats; the term refers to the weakest a Pokemon can ever naturally be. A Bulbasaur, for example, has the base stats of 118 Attack, 111 Defense, and 128 Stamina. The maximum base stat is 255. The species' base stats are hidden to the player in-game, so you'll need to find them online.

A Pokemon's Individual Values (IVs) are added on top of its species' base stats. They're measured on a scale from 0 to 15, and that's what is being shown to the player when they ask their Team Leader to appraise a Pokemon. If the Team Leader shows you a Pokemon with no stats, it means it is the weakest that that species can possibly be because it's relying solely on its base stats.

During an appraisal, the Stamina stat is marked as 'HP' because the Stamina stat is the main influencer on how much HP a Pokemon has.

An individual Pokemon's Attack, Defense, and Stamina (decided by a combination of its base stats and IVs) go on to inform that Pokemon's Combat Power (CP) and Health Points (HP). There are lots of complicated formulas determining how your Pokemon gets stronger when you power up its CP, how IVs influence it all, and how the game decides the HP number, but we won't bore you with all that in this article.

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How To Figure Out Which Pokemon Are The Best

If you're feeling overwhelmed, you're not alone. This is a ton of information to consider about every species of Pokemon. If you wanted to figure out the best possible Pokemon to use, you'd be crunching numbers for a while! Thankfully, there are sites that have already done this work for you. They compare Pokemon's moves, stats, CP and HP maximums, and much more to determine which Pokemon will be the most successful in competitive play.

We recommend you check out some of these sites to give you a grounding. It will tell you which species are the best and which Attacks they should use (among many other things). Just beware of getting too bogged down! You don't have to use the Attacks that they recommend just because. Investigate which of the most competitive Pokemon you have for the play style - whether you're fighting Team Go Rocket, in a Raid, or against other players - and go from there.

Some places you can start are...

How To Buff Your Pokemon

By working with the aspects of Pokemon Go we've already explained, you should be able to pick out and improve your very best Pokemon... but is there any way to give them a little temporary boost in strength? There are two methods of buffing your Pokemon this way.

First, there's the CP Boost. This is a special reward you receive whenever your Friendship level with a certain Pokemon reaches its maximum. The CP Boost increases your Best Buddy's CP by the equivalent of two power-ups anytime that this Pokemon is set as your Buddy. Even if the Pokemon's CP is totally maxed out, it still gets a bump!

Mega Evolution is the second way that you can temporarily buff some Pokemon. If it has a Mega form, you can use special Mega Energy to Mega Evolve the Pokemon into a more powerful version of itself! The transformation lasts for eight hours and improves their CP, HP, Defense, Attack, and Stamina stats. The only place Mega Pokemon can't be used is during PvP. You can take them into fights with anyone else, including Team Go Rocket. If you take a Mega Pokemon into a raid with you, you get another bonus on top of the stat boost! While the Mega Pokemon is on the field, everyone does 10 percent more damage (30 percent if they use an Attack of the same Type as the Mega Pokemon).

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Building Teams For PvP, Team Go Rocket, Gyms, & Raids

What kind of team you assemble will be drastically different depending on what kind of combat you're anticipating. Just to start, PvP and Team Go Rocket fights require three Pokemon in your party, whereas Gym and Raid Battles ask for six. On top of that, you actually want different stats for PvP compared to other combat styles.

These are our introductory tips for anyone who's looking to start building a team for a specific purpose.

PvP Battles

  • Generally (though not always), you want a middling or low Attack IV because it allows you to "bulk" into the Defense and Stamina categories.
  • The Leagues significantly alter which Pokemon you'll be able to use, so don't focus on any one team too much and leave yourself in the lurch when another Cup comes around.
  • Your team should ideally cover each other's Type weaknesses and be able to do damage to a wide range of Types.
  • You should also consider what the very best Pokemon are right now, since other Players will be likely to use them, and how you can best counter them.
  • We have guides detailing...

Team Go Rocket Leader/Boss Battles

Gym Battles

  • The stakes aren't high when attempting to claim a gym, so you're usually fine choosing whatever Pokemon are recommended.
  • Raid Battles are usually too chaotic to dodge during them but you can pull it off in Gyms, so try not to choose Pokemon whose Fast Attacks mean they won't be ready quickly for a dodge.
  • As always, if one Type is predominant in the Gym, choose a good counter that is Super Effective against it.
  • When adding Pokemon to a Gym, try to add a Type that is not already present to increase the difficulty for the eventual opponents.

Raid Battles

  • You can focus on improving Pokemon of these Types to ensure you're ready for any Legendary Raid:
    • Fire-Type Pokemon are popular in Raids for their (usually) high DPS.
    • Fighting-Type Pokemon (especially Machamp) are popular thanks to their natural balance of offense and defense, as well as their effectiveness against Normal- and Dark-Types.
    • Dragon-Type Pokemon are always a good choice considering it is Super Effective against itself and many Raid bosses are Dragon-Type.
    • To counter a Dragon-Type Raid Boss without a Dragon-Type Pokemon, use Fairy-Types (like Gardevoir) and Ice-Types (like Glaceon).
  • The PokeGenie app scans and saves all your Pokemon as you go and can recommend the best party for a given Raid boss.

NEXT: Pokemon Go: What Are Lucky Pokemon And How Can You Get Them?