There comes a time in every “Pokemon Go” fanatic’s life when you really need to step back and wonder if little Krabby is really ready to become a Kingler. That moment comes with wrestling with following conflict: is it better to evolve or power up your Pokémon? It’s one of those grand existential questions without a clear cut answer so much as it depends on what you hope to accomplish in “Pokemon Go.”
First, let’s take a look at all the components that go into making a Pokémon stronger. There are two things you need: stardust and candy. Stardust can be acquired by catching Pokémon… literally any type of Pokémon. It’s not necessary for evolving, just powering up. Candy, however, is an essentially item for both, and is mainly acquired when you catch multiples of the same Pokémon you’re trying to power up. You just transfer all your duplicate Pokémon and you’ll eventually get enough candy to evolve it. Sure enough, this process can be time-consuming either way, unless you live in a neighborhood of like 50,000 Duduos (i.e. me, which is tragic because who has Duduo as their favorite pick?)
The major snag when it comes to using candy and stardust is this: powering up your Pokémon takes both, and effectively can stall the delay of evolving your Poképal. Once you come across this crossroads, you’ll really start to look at what kind of trainer you want to be.
If you’re a battler through and through, then it might be in your best interest to power up your Pokémon to their strongest selves, with specific concentration of a few choice picks. Maybe you don’t mind taking a bit of extra time to strengthen your Pokémon; you’d rather go into a high CP Clefairy than a low CP Clefable. Maybe you want to claim the gym at the Olive Garden with that Cléfairy, and that’s fine if that’s the way you want to live your life. Stationing some top picks at a gym is a great way to rake in PokéCoins, it’s a noble cause.
Here is why it doesn’t work for me personally: in my area (which is the “Pokemon Go”-obsessed North Brooklyn), being a gym leader is a very short-lived victory. It’s fun to screenshot my 15 minutes of street cred, but I ultimately know I’ll be dethroned within an hour or less. When or if “Pokemon Go” allows me to be permanently stationed as a feared Sabrina-meets-Erica Poke Goddess at Rough Trade, then we can talk.
Until then, the other main approach to playing the game is to be a collector and bolster your Pokédex. If that’s your goal, I recommend evolving your Pokémon first and worrying about powering up later. Again, you might be some concern that this will leave you with a Butterfree that has a not-so-intimidating 12/12 HP. Listen, there’s definitely a method to how you can have your cake and eat it, too.
When you’re collecting the duplicate Pokémon needed, try to stick with the strongest available instead of just evolving the first Goldeen in your party. Filter out the the weaker ones as you go along on your journey — at a glance, I stick with whichever Pokémon has the most CP — and then evolve that one when the time comes. This will ensure that your Pokemon will be primed up by the time it evolves… and don’t forget, it gets a considerable power boost when evolving anyway. (I’m Team Mystic, I don’t know if that’s abundantly clear here.)
In short, though, my preference leans towards evolving the strongest version of a Pokemon first, before I blow all my stardust on it. That way, I get the new Pokemon added to my Pokédex and all the glorious XP that goes with it as soon as possible instead of trying to foster a really, really strong Eevee. But there’s no right or wrong way to play this game: it’s just a matter of deciding if to catch them is your true test or if training them is your cause. Whatever that means.
So what is your Poke-strategy? Let us know