Until Monday evening, Pokémon Go players have a chance to capture two rare birds, Lugia and Articuno. Players attempting these raids are finding that adding legendaries to their compendium is a tough prospect, partially because of Niantic’s design, and partially due to good ‘ol network issues.
The first hurdle is having a suitable and strong enough monster. A Lugia that spawned near me this morning had a CP of 42,753, which means that I couldn’t just waltz in with any monster. This makes sense, of course.
So then: we all need the help of other players. If you live in a rural area, where both players and gyms are scarce, you might be shit out of luck. I live in Brooklyn, and was surprised to find that the single legendary spot near me only had two other people show up for the raid. These players told me that they couldn’t find enough players near them, either—they had traveled across the city to get to that gym, to no avail.
While there are reports of players defeating legendaries a handful of trainers, most of us will likely need close to the 20 available raid slots filled. Unless you’re already a part of a group and can coordinate these encounters, just starting the battle may be difficult. Given Niantic’s trailers, where huge groups of people are always visible, this is all intended.
Fortunately, it is possible to defeat a legendary even if some people in your group haven’t fully prepared for it. Once a legendary is downed, you’ll receive a limited number of Premiere Balls, which outline how many chances you’ll have at capturing the monster. According to data miners, the capture rate starts at a measly 2%, a percentage that can increase with berries—but not by much.
So it’s entirely possible for players to go through the trouble of powering up their monsters, assembling a group, winning the battle…and then walking away with nothing. Well, that’s if things go according to plan. A number of players have unfortunately encountered connection issues just trying to start a raid, or trying to capture a Lugia. I’ve also heard stories from players in large groups where only a couple of people got the prize, despite everyone chipping in.
On social media, plenty of heartbroken players are reporting legendaries escaping or lagging out:
The thing is, network issues aside, it makes sense for legendaries to be hard to catch. They’re legendaries! It wouldn’t feel special for everyone to just have one, now would it? At the same time, I can see why people feel frustrated. In the main games, you don’t have to rely on other players to get what you want, and it’s also very easy to become overpowered. The tension of capturing a legendary lies less in the combat encounter than it does in the low capture rate. Even that can be circumvented: the real games have Master Balls with 100% capture rate, and failing that, anyone can just reset their game and try again. Not so IRL: not only are there a number of logistical issues to overcome, you are limited by Premiere Balls and the time period in which Lugia and Articuno are available. The clock is ticking for everyone.
Pokémon Go’s devotion to cooperation means that we’re all getting a more “authentic” legendary experience, while paradoxically straying from what it’s usually like to play Pokémon. Pokémon players, myself included, are not used to having legendaries actually be rare and tough to catch.
Granted, a good number of folks out there have had enough luck to nab a legendary, even if it does take a few tries. Actually, in some places, the groups accruing for this event look very similar to the early days of Pokémon Go: