The Road to Level 40

The latest Pokémon GO special event has just concluded.  I had carefully calculated my XP gains so that I would reach level 40 late this morning.  Due to a miscalculation in my grinding schedule I hit level 40 late last night instead, unexpectedly after a binge evolution session gained me slightly more XP than I had planned on.

Events continue to be the only time I seriously play the game.  The rest of the time I am merely catching a few Pokémon and spinning a few stops to keep my streaks alive.  If Niantic were a little quicker in implementing quests I may be more apt to fire up the app during regular play.

When Pokémon GO first came out there was a sight with a calculator to estimate when you would reach level 40.  My estimation was mid 2019.  My grinding sessions over the past nearly two years must have really paid off.

There are people who hit level 40 mere months after the game was released.  It has been a long road but it’s pretty satisfying to finally be at he final level.  I am regularly in raid groups with people I see out all the time that are still in the mid 30s so knowing how much they play underscores the achievement of hitting level 40.

After all this time, here are my achievement medals and stats after hitting level 40:

Start Date: 7/9/2016
Total XP: 20010070
Medals
Jogger: 1,698.2 km
Kanto: 147
Collector: 29,678
Scientist: 5,226
Breeder: 1,003
Backpacker: 21,230
Youngster: 310
Pikachu Fan: 436
Johto: 98
Berry Master: 2,030
Gym Leader: 5,566
Hoenn: 103
Fisherman: 97/300
Battle Girl: 950/1000
Ace Trainer: 252/1000
Battle Legend: 108/1000
Unown: 6/10
Champion: 90/100
Schoolkid: 12,797
Black Belt: 291
Bird Keeper: 8,787
Punk Girl: 7,512
Ruin Maniac: 1,327
Hiker: 988
Bug Catcher: 5,488
Hex Maniac: 1,208
Depot Agent: 332
Kindler: 1,328
Swimmer: 5,182
Gardener: 2,737
Rocker: 1,014
Psychic: 2,687
Skier: 1,030
Dragon Tamer: 242
Delinquent: 785
Fairy Tale Girl: 983

I even finally retired my buddy, the Pidgey who had been my companion through all of level 39.  The need for Pidgey candy for grinding is now taking a backseat to finishing off my Pokédex.

I run into a lot of people who take months off then come back.  I guess the key is that I have played the game every day since it was released in July of 2016.  Sometimes it’s for ten minutes.  Today, for example, I have barely played as I take a break from the week long grind to complete level 39.  Other days, like yesterday, I’m opening the app every ten or fifteen minutes to get some valuable XP.

On Monday, only a few weeks before he was about to leave the game, I finally caught my first Rayquaza.  It was a little more difficult than normal given that everyone’s pretty sick of Rauquaza after a week.  Luckily there were some people grinding that were just there for the XP.

On Wednesday, my last full day of level 39, I randomly encountered my first ever Dragonite in the wild.  I nearly got him with my GO plus as I wasn’t really paying attention at the time.  I’ve never used a tracker to hunt down Dragonites and I had thought I’d never run into one.  I remember the odds of this were calculated somewhere around 1:1,000,000 so I was pretty psyched, even though I’ve evolved more than enough for my needs.  On top of running into it he ended up having very good IVs.  Even if he was 32 CP I would have kept him, excited to finally run into a wild one for the first time.

After hoping we’d get a bit of a legendary break it was announced yesterday that Lugia was coming back.  This wasn’t terribly exciting.  I have plenty so I was excited to have a break from all this raiding.  Then came the news today that there will be shiny Lugia.  Whether they are all shiny I am not sure at this point but it looks like  I will not be getting a break after all.

Back to the grind.

Pokémon Go Community Day Impressions

Saturday marked Pokémon GO‘s first Community Day.  Community Day was announced more ahead of time than a normal Pokémon GO event, however, it only lasted three hours.  This was a bit of a bummer for those of us that were working between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM CST.  This seems to be something they’ve already remedied for the next event giving us over a month to plan for February.

I was able to play for about 20 minutes on my way home from work, largely while I was getting gas.  Luckily for me this particular gas station is always a hot spot despite being sort of in the middle of nowhere.  I was able to catch two shiny Pikachus which wasn’t too shabby.

It’s worth noting that I’m seeing a ton of Tauros around after not having seen them at all in about six months.  My theory is that they may be rotating Gen 1 Pokémon soon.  I have nothing to back this up but that’s what I’m going with.

The February event, announced today, will feature Dratini as the special Pokémon.   With a month’s notice I’m looking forward to actually participating this time around.  Despite Dragonite no longer being the most sought after Pokémon in the game this should still be fun.  I must admit I don’t care all that much about the special moves but to catch a ton of Dratini would always be welcome.  Considering my record for Dratini caught in a single day probably stands around three I’m looking forward to bulking up on candies.  Rumors are out that this may mean shiny Dratini as well, something that would be very nice as a special release.

I was finally able to get out and do my first Kyogre raids this morning and things worked out very well.  It was unusually warm and the forecast said rain despite not much more than a drizzle.  This lead me to catching two weather-boosted Kyogre, matching the number of Groudon I caught during the incredible harsh weather we had here the month it was out.

This also took me up to 100 Legendary Raids.

The new update has some great features.  The best feature is fixing the bug where you scroll to the top of your Pokémon screen any time you do anything.  Additional features include sorting the Pokédex by region and finally grouping the incubators together.

One odd change is the size of Pokémon.  For some reason Pidgey now is about half the size of Snorlax.  They listed this as an improvement to the way Pokémon scale.  This seems much more like a bug to me.

But nothing makes me prouder than finally completing my 300 Tiny Rattata Medal.  The reward for this medal is that I can resume ignoring Rattata again and I’ve got to say it feels pretty good.

I’m 2.5 million XP away from Level 40 and I’m looking forward to ignoring a lot of Pokémon after I hit that milestone.

I’m looking at you, Weedle!

3 Billion Was Not That Farfetch’d

Well, we did it.  As a global community, around this time last night, we successfully caught 3 billion Pokémon.  There was really no doubt that this would happen. but it was still fun.  With that milestone we saw the release of Farfetch’d, previously only available in Asia.

In reviewing the reward tiers this was pretty much the least exciting.  Double XP and 6 hour lures was a nice incentive.  Double stardust was probably the most enticing reward as stardust remains one of the most difficult things in the game to obtain.

Getting access to Farfetch’d gives me mixed emotions.  Part of me feels like the region exclusives should stay locked in their regions.   The excitement of catching a brand new Pokémon and seeing it registered to your Pokédex is one of the most powerful things in this game.  However, as the final reward for this event it was a little anticlimactic.  As with any of the region exclusives once you catch one that’s pretty much it.  There are too many Pokémon in this game that are completely useless.  Farfetch’d, along with all the other region exclusives, is one them.  It’s no good for battling and no good for attacking, it’s simply a Pokédex filler.  Once you catch one, you don’t really need any more.

While it was nice to catch I hit the streets, put on a lucky egg, and tried to do as many raids as possible.  Tier 5 raids dish out a whopping 40,000 XP during this event with a lucky egg on and after catching Farfetch’d I was eager to try to collect as much XP as possible before the event concludes.

This afternoon I finally hit level 39.  That means I’m 75% of the way through the game.  Now begins the length 5 million XP slog to level 40.  Short of double XP events it’s going to be some pretty slow progress from here on out.

Overall I think this event has been a little different and pretty fun.  However, what it proves is that he addition of new Pokémon only introduce a very brief excitement back into the game.  There are some fundamental changes and additions that need to be made if they are going to capture the same level of enthusiasm that the game once enjoyed.

Until then I’ll continue to play every day, slowly making my way to 40.  I haven’t missed a day since the game came out.  The difference is between those days where I play for a total of 20 minutes, and the days where I am walking 20 kilometers and end up playing for 10 hours or more.

Let’s hope I’m still level 39 when the next round of excitement begins!

Pokémon GO Travel and the Global Catch Challenge

Pokémon GO players have eagerly been awaiting the announcement of a Thanksgiving event.  Earlier today Niantic announced the Pokémon GO Travel and the Global Catch Challenge.  In true Niantic fashion they’re a little short on details such as the actual start date and time or giving us a ballpark of how hard it will be to catch 3 billion Pokémon.  I don’t have any sense for how many are caught in an average week and I’m sure most players also do not have access to that information.  Nevertheless it looks to offer some potentially interesting rewards.

I don’t know what the likelihood of all of us hitting the 3 billion mark is but I suspect that no matter what it will happen.  I can’t imagine anything that would take the wind out of our nearly windless sails more than the potential for unlocking a regional exclusive and then not delivering.

Catching my first Farfetch’d would be pretty cool but the double XP and double stardust is even more appealing as I lumber slowly toward level 40.

This could keep the game interesting for another week or two but Niantic still has a lot of work to do to make this game at all compelling for most of us who play daily.

For now I’ll just enjoy these small windows of fun and hope for the eventual update that will rekindle the game for us all.