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Pokémon Go guide: How to raid

Raids are the only way to catch most Legendary Pokémon

Photo: James Bareham/Polygon

While Field Research and catching Pokémon regularly is fine on your own, most Pokémon Go players will need some help if they’re going to take down raids. They can be difficult, depending on the raid boss and can require a bit of planning before taking them on. Our Pokémon Go guide will teach you how to do raids, get Raid Passes, and how to build raid teams.

What is a raid?

Raids are special events held at gyms. They’re indicated by either a giant egg or a Pokémon hovering over the gym with a timer. Once the timer ticks down above the egg, it will hatch, revealing the raid boss. Similarly, once the timer above the Pokémon ticks down, the raid will end.

Raids are tiered by mask-looking emblems, with tier one being the lowest and five being the highest. Tier five raids always have Legendary Pokémon, like Giratina or Rayquaza. The Legendary Pokémon that appear in raids changes frequently. The rest of the raid tiers change sporadically, typically with themed events.

A in-game notification tells when a nearby raid is going to start
You’ll get notifications in-game about nearby raids starting soon
Niantic via Polygon

How do I join a raid?

When you’re in range of a gym with an active raid, you can enter the raid lobby as long as it’s no longer showing an egg. Lobbies can hold up to 20 players before they become full. You do need a Raid Pass to participate, though you get a free Raid Pass every day from spinning a gym Pokéstop (as long as you don’t already have a free pass). More Raid Passes can be bought from the store for coins.

Once you’re in a raid, it’s similar to a gym battle. You’ll have to set up a party of Pokémon and tap furiously to knock the raid boss out. If all six Pokémon are wiped out, you can revive and heal up your Pokémon or select a new party to use and jump back in. Note that the higher tier a raid is, the harder it is.

Once the raid boss is down, you have a chance to catch the Pokémon.

How do I catch the raid boss Pokémon?

Your team’s contribution to the raid determines how many Premier Balls you get to try to catch the raid ‘mon. You also get bonuses for having friends in the raid and for the gym being your team’s color.

If you get 14 balls, you only have 14 tries to catch that Mewtwo, for example. Often times, players will see themselves walking out of a raid empty handed. Practice your excellent throws and curveballs you’ll be sporting a new catman mutant in no time.

If the raid boss is Shiny (which you won’t see until after you beat the boss), worry not — Shiny raid bosses have a 100 percent catch rate, so long as you don’t somehow miss every ball.

How do remote raids work?

You can do raids, even if you’re not within their range if you use a Remote Raid Pass. As long as you can see the raid or access it from the raid menu, you can complete it with a Remote Raid Pass. You can also invite friends or be invited to raids, even if you’re not even close to the area. Doing raids this way also requires a Remote Raid Pass.

Keep in mind that any players remotely battling in raids does less damage, so it may take more remote players to complete a raid than it normally would. (At the time of writing this, this debuff isn’t in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic.)

Remote Raid Passes are given out for free from events sometimes, but you can also buy them in the shop for 100 coins each.

What’s an EX raid?

An invitation to a Pokémon Go EX raid
You’ll get a notice when invited to an EX raid
Niantic via Polygon

EX raids are special invitation-only raids that happen at EX gyms. The gym will have a little label by its name noting that it’s an EX gym. If you complete a raid at an EX gym, you have a chance to be invited back to catch a very rare Legendary Pokémon, like Deoxys. You can also invite a friend, as long as you’re at least Ultra Friends.

If you have no EX gyms near you, don’t stress. EX raid bosses typically come to normal raids, though much later. Examples of this include Mewtwo and Deoxys.

What are Mega Raids?

Mega Raids are for Mega Pokémon. (Surprise!) By completing them, you can get Mega Energy for the featured Pokémon. The faster you complete the raid, the more Mega Energy you get. These use the usual Raid Passes and can be done remotely with Remote Raid Passes.

What Pokémon should I use in a raid?

While it depends on the raid boss, you should use your highest CP (Combat Power) Pokémon that also have moves that counter the boss’ type. If you’re facing a Rayquaza (dragon/flying-type), you’ll want to bring as many ice-type Pokémon as possible, since ice moves are strong against both dragon and flying types.

It’s worth nothing that even if a Pokémon is a certain type, it doesn’t mean its moves match that type. You could have a Lapras (ice/water-type) that has all water attacks and water-type attacks would be absolutely terrible to use against Rayquaza. Players need to consider their Pokémon’s moveset, as well as the raid boss’ moveset. If you’re struggling to build a team, GamePress has a good list of the best counters for current raid Pokémon.

For information surrounding what Pokémon are in raids currently, the Silph Road has a very pretty website for giving that information, as well as estimations of how many players will be needed to take the boss down.