The value of an individual pokémon depends on a few things: your trainer level, its combat power (CP) when you found it, and its move set. Generally, you only want to keep the pokémon with the highest CP and transfer the rest to Professor Willow in exchange for candies you can use to evolve your best pokémon (here’s a breakdown of how many candies each type of pokémon needs to evolve). Once they’re evolved, you can worry about powering them up with stardust. Here’s an example:
- You find two Charmanders, one with a CP of 230, and another with a CP of 450. You keep the Charmander with 450 CP (maybe tag it with a favorite star so you know it’s your best), then transfer the other Charmander to the Professor to get a Charmander candy. You don’t power up the Charmander you kept, but wait until you have enough candies to evolve it into a Charmeleon. Again, you don’t power it up, but wait until you have enough candies to evolve it into its final form, Charizard. Only then do you begin to use the stardust you saved to power up your Charizard.
- If you want to find pokémon with higher CPs, you need to increase your trainer level. Niantic, Pokémon Go’s developers, have been very quiet about how CP works, so here are a few more things you might want to know about it:
- All pokémon of a certain type have the same maximum CP, regardless of what their CP was when you caught them. Basically, a 100 CP Charmander and 450 CP Charmander have the same maximum potential, and that is determined by your trainer level. It’s still best to keep the higher CP one, though, because you’ll save yourself resources powering it up in the long run.
- Some species of pokémon have a higher maximum CP than others.
- If your trainer level increases, the maximum CP of all your pokémon increases. That means the pokémon that belong to a trainer at level 20 all have a higher CP cap than those that belong to a trainer at level 10.
- Evolving a pokémon will raise their current and maximum CP, but the percentage trained will remain the same. For example, a 20 CP Pidgey with a max of 100 might evolve into a 40 CP Pidgeotto with a max of 200—it stays at 20%.
A good rule of thumb to follow is don’t evolve a pokémon that didn’t have a red ring when you caught it. But say you have two Charmanders that both have high CPs. Which do you evolve? If you’re planning on battling with one of them, look at their move sets. It’s best to have a pokémon with two different types of attacks. In Charmander’s case, a version with Scratch (Normal type) and Flamethrower (Fire type) is more ideal than a Charmander that has two Fire type moves. That said, if you want to train some seriously strong pokémon, the best thing you can do is raise your trainer level as fast as possible. It’s better if you don’t waste your resources on powering up the pokémon you find early on in the game. This is especially important with stardust, as it becomes a much rarer resource the longer you play. Be stingy with your resources and focus on building your trainer level first.