Best Pokémon to evolve and power up in Pokémon Go! [Updated!]

Which Pokémon do you need to first and power up? This is your list!

Update: Pokémon Go’s Valentine’s event had doubled candy — here’s an expanded and list of the Pokémon you should and power up with them!

Pokémon Go currently includes 150 odd Pokémon for you to catch, hatch, and evolve. But evolving them requires candy and powering them up requires candy and stardust. Both are limited resources. So, which Pokémon should you spend you precious candy and stardust on? Which ones should you absolutely evolve and power up first?

Once you catch or hatch, there’s really only one thing left to do with your Pokémon — put them on Gyms. To do that, you’ll either have to battle to get a spot or be battled to keep it. That means having Pokémon that can attack and defend Gyms are critical, and that means those are the Pokémon you want to max out. With that in mind, here’s the list!


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What are the best Pokémon to evolve and power up for defending Gyms?

If all you want to do is place your Pokémon on Gyms and hold those Gyms so you can collect your daily coin and Stardust bonus, and you want to keep things simple: Hatch, catch, or evolve the Pokémon with the highest possible CP potential and then max them out as much as you can, and put them on a Gym that doesn’t turn over very often. A Pokémon with 2500+ CP sitting on top of a Gym that doesn’t change teams much is going to be on there for the long hall.

Here’s the current list for (approximate) maximum CP on Pokémon Go:

3530 Dragonite (Steel Wing and Dragon Pulse ideal)3305 Snorlax (Zen Headbutt and Hyper Beam or Body Slam)3250 Rhydon (Mud Slap and Stone Edge)3230 Gyrados (Bite and Dragon Pulse)3110 Vaporeon (Water Gun and Water Pulse or Aqua Tail)2980 Lapras (Ice Shard and Blizzard or Ice Beam)

If you want to add some variety (and some good defenders despite lower CP):

2916 Exeggutor (Confusion and Psychic or Seed Bomb)2482 Slowbro (Confusion and Psychic or Ice Beam)

Dragonite is incredibly vulnerable to Cloyster and Rhydon to Vaporeon, and any high-level player who puts in the time and potions can tear down any gym in fairly short order. There’s no such thing as a sure thing. As a general rule, though, being on top of a Gym keeps you there longer than being at the bottom.

If you want to take it to another level, check out the full, updated Pokémon Go Defenders Tier list from Gamepress.

That list takes into account a lot of different things, like what attackers will most likely be used against you, how different types match up, how specific vulnerabilities work out, etc. The most important thing in the game is to enjoy it, though. So, if you just love the idea of Muk or Kabutops sitting on top of a Gym, by all means, max them out and have fun!

What are the best Pokémon to evolve and power up for attacking Gyms?

In general, given many people will simply stick the highest CP defenders they can on a Gym (see above!) you’ll probably want their best counters among your attackers.

Cloyster or Lapras (Frost Breath and Blizzard) to counter Dragonite.Rhydon (Mud Shot and Earthquake or Stone Edge) to counter Snorlax.Vaporeon (Water Gun and Hydro Pump of Aqua Tail) to counter Rhydon and Lapras. Jolteon (Thunder Shock and Thunder or Thunderbolt) to counter Gyrados, Vaporeon, and Lapras. Exeggutor (Zen Headbutt and Solar Beam) to counter Vaporeon and Rhydon.Dragonite (Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw), by virtue of its stats, is also one of the best attackers in the game.Snorlax (Lick or Zen Headbutt with Body Slam or Hyper Beam), also has massive stats, so also makes a great attacker.Alakazam (Psycho Cut and Psychic) to take on almost anything.

Your style of play can also be a factor, though. If you’re great at dodging, Alakazam can unleash incredible amounts of damage per second (DSP). It has relatively few hit points, though, so if you don’t dodge it’ll be taken out quick. Arcanine and Charizard can also be great for taking out the big grass-type Pokémon, like Venusaur, but the former especially has been significantly weakened over time.

Snorlax, on the other hand, is a tank and can plow through several strong Pokémon in succession, dodging be damned, before being taken out. You may also simply like greater variety to play with or have personal favorites you love to use, regardless of how good or bad they are overall.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can check out the current Pokémon Go Attackers Tiers from Gamepress.

Again, if you have a favorite Pokémon, one that you love like Kabotops or Hitmonlee, max them out and keep them in your pool. It doesn’t always have to be about efficiency. It can be about fun.

Great… but how do you get enough Candy and Stardust to evolve and power them up?

To evolve you need Candy. A lot of it. To power up you need more Candy and you also need Stardust. The amount you need starts small but grows as you get to higher levels. So, how do you get as much Candy and Stardust as possible to evolve and power up as much as possible?

Candy has to match the Pokéman family you want to evolve or power up. So you need Bulbasaur Candy to evolve to Ivysaur and Venusaur, and you need more Bulbasaur Candy to power up Venusaur as well.

3 Candies per Pokémon caught in the wild.1 Candy per Pokémon transferred to the Professor.1 Candy per 1 KM/3 KM/5 KM walked with a Buddy.5 to 15 Candies per 2 KM Egg hatched.10 to 21 Candies per 5 KM Egg hatched.16 to 32 Candies per 10 KM Egg hatched.

Stardust is generic. You can use any Stardust you got from any source on any Pokémon you want.

100 Stardust per Pokémon caught in the wild.500-1500 Stardust per 2 KM Egg hatched.1000-2100 Stardust per 5KM Egg hatched.1600-3200 Stardust per 10 KM Egg hatched.500 Stardust per Pokémon, per Gym, per 21 hours.

To evolve a Magikarp into a Gyarados takes 400 Dratini Candy. To power up a Gyarados to over 3000 CP could take another 112 Magikarp Candy and 120,500 Stardust or more.

To evolve a Dratini into Dragonair and Dragonite takes 125 Dratini Candy. To power up a Dragonite to over 3000 CP could take another 70 Dratini Candy and 80,000 Stardust or more.

So, catch, hatch, walk, and claim as much Candy and Stardust as you can.

Should you evolve and power up right away or wait for better Pokémon?

The longer you wait, the better chance you have of catching or hatching a base Pokémon with higher stats (IV). The higher the stats, the higher the potential CP of you eventual Pokémon evolution. So, it makes sense to wait as long as you can before evolving. For example, if you’re going for a third stage evolution, don’t do the second stage right away. Wait and do both the second stage right before you’re ready to do the third stage. That way, if you get a higher stats later, you can evovle that one instead. You’re not stuck with your earlier evolution.

In other words, don’t evolve Dragonair until you’re ready to evolve Dragonite because you could get a much better Dratini by the time you get to 125 candies than the one you had at 25 candies.

And even if you get to 125 candies, if you don’t have a Pokémon with high stats (IV) to evolve, you can keep waiting until you do. (See below.)

Should you evolve first, or power up first?

Evolve first, power up second. It’s tempting to power up first, because instant gratification is instant, but it’ll cost you less Stardust in the long run to evolve and the strategically power up only your best or favorite Pokémon.

Long story short, you never know what moveset you’re going to end up with until you evolve (see below). Get the evolution out of the way and you’ll know exactly what you’re spending your precious Stardust on and can make a more informed decision.

How do you know which specific Pokémon to evolve?

If a Pokémon is particularly rare you might not have much choice as to which one you evolve. If you live in a place where Eevee spawn every few minutes, though, deciding which one(s) to evolve can be trickier. That’s where appraisals come in.

Appraisals are how Pokémon Go surfaces the hidden IV stats of the game. All Pokémon have these three stats: stamina, attack, and defense. You can get a good idea of where your Pokémon ranks by having your Team Leader appraise your Pokémon.

How to appraise your Pokémon in Pokémon Go

Ideally, you want to evolve the Pokémon with the best appraisal. Those will be the ones with the highest stats and, eventually, the highest CP.

Instinct: Overall, your [Pokémon looks like it can really battle with the best of them!Mystic: Your [Pokémon] is a wonder! What a breathtaking Pokémon!Valor: Overall, your [Pokémon] simply amazes me! It can accomplish anything!

If the appraisal calls out one stat, it’s great. If it calls out two stats, it’s terrific. If it calls out all three stats, it’s likely perfect:

“It’s HP is its strongest feature.””I’m just as impressed with its Attack.””I’m just as impressed with its Defense.”

If you get one of those, it’s an all-star, must evolve, must power up, must show off!

How do you know which specific Pokémon to power up?

This is where movesets come in. Arguably, movesets are the most important and frustrating aspect of the Pokémon Go Gym system. A moveset is exactly what the name implies — the set of quick and charge moves available to your Pokémon. The bad news is, movesets are determined at random when you evolve. No matter how great your starting moves, how high your initial CP, or how good your appraisal, the moment you tap the evolve button you’re putting your Pokémon’s fate in the hands of chance.

That’s not as doom-and-gloom as it sounds. A 3000 Snorlax with a “bad” moveset like Zen Headbutt and Earthquake is still a 3000 Snorlax! But a 3000 Snorlax with an ideal moveset like Zen Headbutt and Hyperbeam is even better.

You can always wait for ideal movesets before powering up but for especially rare Pokémon that can take a long time and there’s no way to know if your next hatch, catch, or evolution will be any better.

Here are the top five defenders and their ideal movesets again:

Dragonite (Steel Wing and Dragon Pulse)Snorlax (Zen Headbutt and Hyper Beam or Body Slam)Rhydon (Mud Slap and Stone Edge)Gyrados (Bite and Dragon Pulse)Vaporeon (Water Gun and Water Pulse or Aqua Tail)

And for attackers, their counters:

Cloyster or Lapras (Frost Breath and Blizzard) to counter Dragonite.Rhydon (Mud Shot and Earthquake or Stone Edge) to counter Snorlax.Vaporeon (Water Gun and Hydro Pump of Aqua Tail) to counter Rhydon. Jolteon (Thunder Shock and Thunder or Thunderbolt) to counter Gyrados and Vaporeon. Exeggutor (Zen Headbutt and Solar Beam) to counter Vaporeon and Rhydon.

You can see full moveset evaluations, graded from A (best) to D (worst) at GamePress.

If attackers get powered up, won’t they sometimes also get put on Gyms?

Sure. Any high CP Pokémon is good candidate for a Gym, given the current game dynamics. Luckily, most of the top attackers can be effectively countered by other top attackers. That means you can keep your max-out list relatively small.

Jolteon (Thunder Shock and Thunder or Thunderbolt) to counter Lapras or Cloyster.Vaporeon (Water Gun and Hydro Pump of Aqua Tail) to counter Rhydon. Jolteon (Thunder Shock and Thunder or Thunderbolt) to counter Vaporeon. Rhydon (Mud Shot and Earthquake or Stone Edge) to counter Jolteon.Arcanine (Fire Fang and Fire Blast or Flamethrower) to counter exeggutor. (Charizard is another option.)

What about STAB, should you give preference to that?

STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) is awarded when your Pokémon’s quick and charge move are the same as its Pokémon type. For example, an Arcanine with Fire Fang as its quick move will get STAB where an Arcanine with Bite will not.

All other things being equal, STAB is great. In general, though, you should care more about the ideal movesets listed above than STAB bonus. Some ideal movesets will absolutely be STAB-based but others won’t. For example, sometimes the bonus you get for a common opponent being vulnerable or double vulnerable to an attack will be higher than the bonus you’d get for same type.

Other factors include how fast a quick attack powers up a charge attack, how much damage per second (DPS) is inflicted, and how easy it is for a move to be dodged.

The above are recommendations to get you started. Your personal play style and preferences can and will vary.

Any other questions on Pokémon Go evolution or powering up?

Have any other questions about evolving Pokémon or leveling them up? Let us know in the comments.

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