When Niantic raised the level cap in Pokémon Go from 40 to 50 last November, it brought a lot of new layers and mechanics to the Pokémon Go experience.
The change was huge — many players, including me, had zero reason to care about earning experience points for literally years. I was chucking out Lucky Eggs by the fistful, because XP just didn't matter. Until it suddenly did.
The level cap adjustment shifted player priorities, gave new goals to work toward, and most importantly, allowed players to power up their Pokémon an additional 10 levels. That Pokémon progression was different from before: previously, the level of your Pokémon was limited to your trainer level, +2. But with the level cap gone, all bets were off. As long as you were Level 40 or higher, you could power up your Pokémon all the way to Level 50.
The catch was Candy XL. As you probably know by now, Pokémon above Level 40 no longer use regular candy to power up. Instead, they use Candy XL, and almost a full year after the level cap increase, it's still a scarce resource.
The option to trade regular Pokémon candy for Candy XL is a bit of a joke; the 1-to-100 exchange rate is exorbitant, and it's clearly not meant to be a central feature of the system. Instead, farming Candy XL is largely done through five different methods, and if you aren't really well informed, it can be difficult to optimize.
The scarcity of Candy XL isn't just a problem for trainers trying to power up their Pokémon. It can also be a huge roadblock for players trying to achieve new levels themselves, since the requirements for Level 47 include powering three Pokémon to Level 50. That challenge has gotten a bit easier in the last eleven months — the old requirement was actually a whopping SIX Pokémon instead of just three, and we now have a few more ways to earn Candy XL. But it can still be one of the biggest roadblocks on your path to Level 50.
Don't get me wrong, there's lots you can do to rake in more Candy XL. But good advice on how to do it is scattered all around the internet. Lots of major sites that rushed to cover the level cap increase last year wrote solid intro-level material, but then didn't maintain it. You can read that stuff and still wind up feeling like you don't really know how Candy XL works, let alone the best strategies to get more of it.
On top of that, grinding for Candy XL can be draining. It really changes how you approach some of the core elements of Pokémon Go, and several of the best options are locked behind paywalls. The good news is that if you can adopt even just some of the best practices, you'll see drastic boosts in how much Candy XL you're earning. You can pick and choose the options that are best for you, skip the stuff that doesn't seem fun, and still see some big gains.
So for today, I want to run you through the basics of Candy XL as we now understand it. Then I'll show you some big tips that can help you stack it to the ceiling.
Candy XL largely functions like regular Pokémon Candy, but there are some limitations and special rules you'll want to be aware of.
First up, you can't collect Candy XL until you're Level 40. It's a fresh grind and it's meant to give end game players something to do, so it wouldn't really make sense if you could earn it earlier in your Pokémon trainer career. If you do manage to earn some Candy XL before you reach Level 40 — you can actually get it in trades, despite being lower level — the game'll wipe your Candy XL once you hit Level 40 anyways. So don't worry about Candy XL at all until then.
It costs 296 Candy XL to power up a regular Pokémon from Level 40 to Level 50. Shadow Pokémon require 360, and purified Pokémon require 272. That's a bit of a beat, since Shadow 'mons are often more ideal for PvE content like raids, where they deal more damage in a shorter period of time. (They take more damage too, but when you're racing the clock, total damage-per-second is your biggest priority.)
Lastly, while Rare Candy's pretty common these days, Rare Candy XL is extremely scarce. You can find a few in Special Research when you level up, in the Level Challenges for Levels 43, 45, 48, and 50. You'll also get a total of twelve Rare Candy XL in your Level Up rewards from Levels 41 to 50. Levels 45 and 50 come with two. Niantic isn't exactly throwing them at us just yet.
With so few Rare Candy XL kicking around, powering up your Pokémon to Level 50 is all about grinding five different mechanics. Here are the five big ways you can earn Candy XL.
Whenever you hatch an egg, you have a chance to receive Candy XL. The amount you may receive generally scales up according to the type of egg, and the eggs are divided into three tiers: 2km eggs, 5km and 7km eggs, and 10km and 12km eggs. The average amount of Candy XL you can expect at per hatch is as follows:
The amount of Candy XL you receive isn't tied to the amount of regular candy or stardust awarded. Nothing about the Pokémon you hatch will influence the number, and Adventure Sync eggs are no different from regular ones as far as Candy XL is concerned.
Until you really start optimizing, you'll probably get most of your Candy XL from catching Pokémon in your day-to-day play.
Catching a Pokémon always gives at least some chance of receiving Candy XL, but different types of Pokémon are handled differently.
Catching higher level Pokémon grants a higher chance of finding more Candy XL. So if you're out in the wild, it can be worth the time to snag that yellow-ringed or red-ringed Pokémon.
Every time you transfer a Pokémon, you have a chance of receiving one Candy XL.
Pokémon of a higher level are more likely to reward Candy XL when transferred. It mirrors the leveled reward tiers of catching Pokémon, but unlike catching, you can only ever receive a maximum of one Candy XL per transfer.
Each trade you make comes with a chance for each player to receive one Candy XL.
Note that each trade partner rolls a separate attempt to receive a Candy XL. One trader may receive a Candy XL for a given trade, while the other may not. The success is not shared. Also, a Level 40 or higher trainer can still receive Candy XL for trading with a lower-level trainer; there's no special incentive to trade with high-level players.
Walking with a buddy gives you a chance of receiving one XL Candy for that Pokémon, every time you earn regular candy. Like catching and transferring, your chance of success will rise if your buddy is of a higher level. These numbers aren't as refined, as the walking system is the newest and least explored way to earn Candy XL, but the following are roughly accurate.
It's unknown whether the candy walking distance for your buddy, its species, or its excitement level have a bearing on the rate with which you'll receive Candy XL, but nothing's been observed to suggest that they do.
So with five different ways to grind for those sweet, sweet triangles, how can you make the most of these systems? Here are some tips to help you gather as much Candy XL as possible, for the Pokémon that matter most.
Let's start with a "well, duh" one: Community Days, Spotlight Hours, and longer events with very few featured Pokémon are a great opportunity to catch, trade, and transfer lots of one type of Pokémon. We've seen a big downturn in the number of Community Days featuring highly useful Pokémon like Gible, Machop, and Larvitar over the past year, and that's probably not a coincidence. But when useful Pokémon ARE featured, it's the perfect time to go hard and grind 'em out.
…Sort of. What's really happening is that weather-boosted Pokémon are higher in level than non-boosted Pokémon, and that level boost means you'll score more Candy XL on average. If you're hunting for candy for a specific species, you'll get more out of your game time if you hunt in the right weather.
You can't control if it's sunny out, but if you've got a flexible schedule, you can live life when the weather's not ideal, and make sure you're playing when the hunting conditions are at their best.
It's definitely pay-to-win whale bait, but it's worth noting: because Legendary and Mythic Pokémon give a minimum of 3 Candy XL, and can in fact drop more if you're lucky, it's worth raiding heavily when a topnotch Pokémon is available.
When Dialga was featured in select hours of Go Fest this year, raids were BURSTING with players because it was such an awesome opportunity to push one of the best Master League Pokémon in the game to Level 50. Sometimes Pokémon are available in raids for weeks, but sometimes they only appear for a Raid Hour or a fraction of a big event. Make sure you know what's coming, so you can raid the Pokémon you want the most.
Since you roll for a chance at a Candy XL every time you get a candy for walking, you'll want to set a high-level Pokémon as your buddy, and prioritize one that generates candy at lower intervals of kilometres for best results. "Put away those Legendary and Mythic Pokemon, trainers!" Instead, focus on faster walking 'mons like Machamp, Rhyperior, Mamoswine, Excadrill, and Darumaka. All of them find candy every three kilometers, and they're all great Pokémon that you'll be able to use in lots of PvE content.
That's not a surprise. But what might surprise you is how events work when they guarantee Candy XL for walking. This year's Halloween event, which lasted from October 15 to October 31, advertised "Guaranteed Candy XL when walking with your buddy."
Most players saw the event description and assumed it meant that the chance to get one Candy XL when walking would shift to a guaranteed payout. Instead, the random chance worked like normal, but every walking milestone also awarded one guaranteed Candy XL, too. That meant if you were walking a high-level buddy 'mon, you actually had a very good chance to get two Candy XL every few kilometers you walked.
It was a way bigger bonus than expected, and it even made it worthwhile to walk 5km buddies like Lucario. Speaking of…
Back in pay-to-win territory, hatching eggs can be worth a lot of Candy XL for some really great Pokémon…if you do it the right way.
Generally, hatching eggs is a really random process: you can't control what kinds of eggs you get out of gyms and pokéstops, and the pool of Pokémon in those eggs is often massive. At best, you'll usually get a bunch of Candy XL that's spread across so many Pokémon of differing value that it's just not worth the cost of incubators.
But sometimes the stars align, and the factors you can control line up with smaller egg pools. While you can't choose your eggs from gyms and stops, you can empty your egg inventory by hatching through it all, and then load up on 7km eggs by opening Gifts from friends. Do it at a time when the 7km egg pool is small, and full of good Pokémon you'd want to power up, and you can get a TON of Candy XL very quickly.
Riolu, Happiny, Stunfisk, and Darumaka are just some of the useful Pokémon that often appear in 7km eggs. In fact, the upcoming events celebrating Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl will be especially good, since 7km eggs will include Happiny to help you power up your Blissey, and Riolu to power up Lucario. Those events run from November 16th to November 21st, so get ready!
Once you've caught or hatched a Pokémon and you decide to get rid of it for Candy XL, should you transfer it quickly, or should you spend the time to trade it with a friend? The answer depends on the Pokémon, and optimizing correctly can mean more Candy XL.
If a Pokémon can be traded for a guaranteed Candy XL — because the trade distance is 100km or higher — you should probably trade it. That's especially true if it's low level, and less likely to get you Candy XL through transferring.
On the flip side, if you can't make a 100+km trade and a Pokémon is higher in level, it's better to save the time and transfer them, since the level will help your chances for success. Sometimes even lower-leveled Pokémon are worth mass transferring so you can spend your valuable minutes doing something else — it just may not give you the full potential value of finding a long distanced trade.
The grind for Level 47 is really the elephant in the room here. Again, advancing to Level 47 has several requirements, and the toughest is fully powering up three Pokémon. That means taking them to Level 50, at a cost of almost 900 Candy XL in total.
You'd think that when you were ready to make the leap to Level 47, the game would count your prior progress and give you credit for any Pokémon you'd powered up before Level 46. But no: if you powered up any Level 50s earlier in your trainer journey, you get nothing.
So what can you do to prepare for the grind, so you can hit the ground running as soon as you hit Level 46? Well, the first piece of advice is the most painful: keep all your Pokémon at Level 49.5 until you hit Level 46, then finish them off. Yup. Unless you've got mad candy farming skills, you're going to be better off just denying yourself the joy of fully powering up any of your Pokémon. Rough.
The good news is that you can get a big chunk of the work done by abusing the heck out of the Mystery Box. The Mystery Box works like an Incense for Meltan, and because it's a Mythic Pokémon, each Meltan you catch will get you at least three Candy XL. You can get one Mystery Box once a week if you rely on Pokémon Hom, or one every three days if you own Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! or Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!
Each Mystery Box spawns 18 to 20 Meltan, guaranteeing a minimum of 54 Candy XL if you catch all of them. (Gotta catch 'em all, literally.) And to make Level 47, you don't need three Pokémon of different species at Level 50; they can all be Meltan. With three-day intervals between Mystery Boxes, you can get there in under two months, just by popping a box every three days.
There's actually a way for you to work together with another player to help each other out, too. Here's how it works:
So if I want to help you power up a Pokemon, I'd use my Candy XL from a Community Day or similar to get a Pokémon like Snivy or Duskull part of the way there. Then I give it to you, you finish powering it up, and you're one Pokémon closer to Level 47. Next time there's an event we can trade roles and you can help me in return. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Gathering the hundreds of Candy XL you need to take Pokémon all the way to their full potential isn't easy, but with these tricks you can max those meta 'mons and get yourself over the Level 47 hump in a matter of weeks, instead of months. Play smart, don't stress, and you'll be there before you know it. Good luck, trainer!