In my case, I joined team Instinct but it looks like all the gyms in my area are taken by Mystic.

I'm not a high enough level to battle these gyms now, and since they aren't mine I can't train. How much will this set me back in the game, if at all?

  • Gyms always change teams every few days Jul 21, 2016 at 18:54
  • 1
    @Alex Not in my area......and that doesn't make it a bad question. Jul 21, 2016 at 18:57
  • then try removing the Pokémon from that gym so you can claim it. Jul 21, 2016 at 18:59
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    It's a good question. I chose Instinct (yellow) and the places I travel seem to be 50% red, 45% blue, 5% yellow. I almost never see a yellow Gym, and it gets stomped before I can get over there to shore it up a little. In my area, the battle is between Red and Blue. Yellow is just an annoyance to both teams.
    – Baronz
    Jul 21, 2016 at 19:06
  • Relevant. Jul 21, 2016 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


On average, there is a slight disadvantage to picking the weaker team, but not one that will completely affect your game.

For most of the game, your team affiliation will either not affect you (spawn/catch rates). There used to be rumors about giving you a perk for that team, but there's been no real evidence since. (Even after the game was reversed engineer to see more of the "gears", like how many steps to make a spawn call.)

The disadvantage comes from the lack of opportunity to earn the Defender's Bonus that Gym Leaders get for having a Pokemon at Gym. If you join a team that is the weakest in your region, then you and your team will have issues in holding onto Gyms. (whereas the teams with more members can statistically attack, take over, and fortify easier.)

The biggest takeaway though is that this is only an opportunity cost. The weaker team might be stronger a mile away, the stronger team might not frequent the area you are as much. The number of variables are unlimited as to that the weakest team might control all the Gyms of a city since their members are organized. There's no hard-set disadvantage, just a fluid difficulty curve.

  • 1
    Actually, I find it easier to take a gym over than it is to train/level up a friendly gym. I can take out a level 3 gym with only one or two Pokemon and three rounds of attacks. But keeping the gyms is definitely a problem, so I'm more likely to be limited in how many gyms I can concurrently control when I claim my defender bonus. Best I've done is attacking 8 gyms at 3am, while retaining control of 6 when I claimed by bonus. This is based on my experience being on the least popular team in my area (Instinct).
    – Ellesedil
    Aug 30, 2016 at 0:02
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    Considering the investment (3am, 8 gyms? sorry, I have to go to work), you have to really think about what the defender bonus is worth to you. I've been fine with sneaking in a pokemon here and there just to get a 1x defender bonus.
    – Nelson
    Aug 30, 2016 at 4:35

The main effect of being in a less popular team is the ability to hold multiple gyms at the same time, and that way gain the daily bonus from holding a gym (10 gold and 500 dust pr gym).

Unless you can out level all in your area and dominate the gyms that way, you will be at somewhat of a disadvantage.

If the other teams out weighs you significantly they will most likely take over your gyms before you can control multiple gyms.

That being said, if your team has no competition in the area you might run in to the problem of gyms reach max level without you getting any Pokemon in them, and with no competition they will never be cleared out making room for you.

As a normal player you will most likely not see much of a difference there.

What is more important is how dedicated the players in your area are, if you have dedicated people on your team bring people together for events it can make a huge difference for your team in your area. That being said the more people the better chance of having people who take an active rolle in the community around the game.

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