‘Pokémon Go’ Teams: What’s the Difference Between Instinct, Mystic and Valor?

'Pokemon Go' is available now for iOS and Android devices. (Nintendo)

Pokémon Go players who hit level five will be faced with a difficult choice, asked to join one of three teams: Team Instinct, Team Mystic or Team Valor. Once you make your selection, it can’t be undone, and you’re with that faction for the rest of the game. So what’s the difference between them? Does this choice affect your gameplay? Which one is right for you?

All in all, what team you choose doesn’t actually affect your gameplay that much. What happens is that after you pick your side, from now on, you’ll be battling as a part of this faction; you can only train at your team’s gyms and battle at enemy gyms. But the core gameplay of Pokémon Go will remain the same whether you’re an Instinct, Mystic or Valor person. The decision ultimately comes down to personal preference, and there are several factors you may want to consider before finalizing your choice.

The first is finding out which team is most popular among your friend group. You and your buddies might want to coordinate and join together on one team, therefore all working towards one goal when you’re playing the game. Keep in mind, though, that this means you will not be able to battle each other or compete to capture gyms.

You can also see how popular the three teams are in your area. You can do that by taking note of what color the gyms are on your map; if one is blue, for example, that means Mystic has claimed it. You can either decide to join with the group that’s dominating already, or you can intentionally opt for a less popular group. Do you prefer the big guy or the underdog? Do you want to join the winners or help a lesser team climb its way to the top?

You can also use Facebook to seek out local pages dedicated to specific teams to see which ones are big around you and which seem to be the most inviting. It’s really all about finding a community of players that you’re comfortable with, as from now on, these are your people. Team Instinct, Team Mystic and Team Valor all have their own subreddits, too, so visiting those pages might sway you in one direction or another.

Others select their team based on which of the mascots they think is the coolest, if they prefer lightning, water or fire, or perhaps based on which color Pokémon game they first played as a kid. Finally, the game offers a description of the ideals all three factions represent, and so many make their choice based on that and not necessarily based on the online community.

Here’s a quick rundown of Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor so that you can figure out which one is for you.

Team Instinct

Pokemon Go's Team Instinct

  • Color: Yellow
  • Leader: Spark
  • Mascot: Zapdos

Spark believes the key to success is following one’s instincts and believing in their Pokémon’s innate abilities. Go for Team Instinct if the idea of closing your eyes and trusting in the Pokémon themselves appeals to you, or perhaps if you’re generally the kind of person to have faith and trust that things will work out.

You also may lean towards Instinct if you’re a fan of underdogs, as at the moment, Instinct seems to be the least popular choice of the three. According to a recent poll on Kotaku, 23 percent of players chose Instinct, and the team’s subreddit has 13,000 subscribers.

Team Mystic

Team Mystic is driven by wisdom and logic rather than emotion and trust. (Niantic)

  • Color: Blue
  • Leader: Blanche
  • Mascot: Articuno

While Team Instinct is guided by trust and gut-feelings, Mystic is guided by calmness, wisdom, and intellect. The team’s bird is Articuno, the creature with the ability to control the cold, which is appropriate for a group defined by maintaining a cool head rather than giving into emotion. Think of it as the Jedi Order of the Pokémon world.

In the Pokémon Go online community, Team Mystic is by far the most popular of the three. Mystic was also the clear favorite in Kotaku’s poll, with 37 percent of players fighting for Blanche. The team’s subreddit has 18,643 subscribers.

Pokémon Go’s Team Mystic is represented by Articuno, and it is the most popular of the three groups. Here are all the memes and facts you need to see.

Team Valor

Team Valor is driven by a thirst for power. (Niantic)

  • Color: Red
  • Leader: Candela
  • Mascot: Moltres

Finally, there’s Team Valor, which is driven by the idea that power is the most important element of the Pokémon world; Valor members are driven by passion and strength above all else, as opposed to the tranquility of Mystic and the faith of Instinct. Candela mentions in her introduction that she’s researching how to enhance the Pokémon’s natural power. Think of this as the House Targaryen of Pokemon Go.

If you’re in this game primarily to be the very best (like no one ever was), and you believe that your Pokémon are far more powerful than any humans could hope to be, Valor might be for you. The team has already earned a reputation online for being the fiercest and most competitive of the three. According to Kotaku’s poll, 29 percent of respondents back the red team. The Valor subreddit has 6,216 subscribers.


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