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.

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 every month (usually), with some special changes (such as Latias appearing for several days of the month). The rest of the raid tiers change sporadically, typically with themed events.

A handful of Pokémon in raids have a chance of being shiny as well.

You’ll get notifications in-game about nearby raids starting soonNiantic 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.

What’s an EX raid?

You’ll get a notice when invited to an EX raidNiantic 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. Mewtwo was once a EX raid reward and then returned as normal tier five raid later. Niantic seems pretty good about having Pokémon return for people who missed out on catching them.

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, for example. 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. Now get out there and take down some powerful Pokémon.

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