Not long after the disaster that was Pokemon Go Fest concluded, Niantic unleashed the legendary birds Lugia and Articuno on gyms all over the world. While it sucks that those in Chicago got burned by cellphone carrier overloads and server errors, the Toronto experience seemed to be unaffected. The following morning, my wife, mother-in-law and I head out on a quest to catch these new Pokemon.
First off, as part of the event, raids for both Pokemon were actually quite common, though there were definitely more Articuno raids than Lugia. Our first stop led us to a gym that was supposed to be tied to a school, but was actually located on an island between the road. It was a patch of grass with a large pine tree. We parked at a plaza on the other side of the street. As soon as we got out of the car, a number of others did as well, as they too were waiting for enough people to join in.
It’s been a long time since I interacted with strangers at all while playing Pokemon Go. This was a great reminder of how cool the Pokemon Go community can be. There were over 20 people strangers, of all walks of life, who were all super pleasant people that came together for a common goal.
This time, we were here to take down Lugia. Raid bosses are generally super-sized versions of Pokemon, but the monstrosity of Lugia really took me aback. My once-giant Tyranitar looked tiny compared to the gargantuan Lugia. Through our combined efforts, we were able to take it down in time.
That’s when the real struggle began. Having watched a number of legendary raids in Chicago, I was under the impression that Lugia and Articuno would be guaranteed catches. That was not the case here. Lugia’s aiming circle was as red as I’ve ever seen it. In fact, it’s currently set so that their base catch rates are a minuscule 2%. By contrast, the hardest Pokemon prior to that had a base catch rate of 5%.
Great throw after great throw, Lugia would smash out of my Pokeballs with ease. Finally, with my last ball, it broke out one more time before disappearing into the wilderness. After months of anticipation, my first encounter with a legendary ended with me being empty-handed. My sodium levels were through the roof. At the very least, my wife and mother-in-law caught it and high-fives were exchanged all around.
Didn’t have much time to be bitter about the one that got away, as there was an Articuno raid a few minutes away. This gym was located in a small park. A handful of people from the previous raid followed us, but we ended up having to wait about 30 minutes before finally gathering enough players to fight with. At the very least, everyone’s company was greatly appreciated, as one guy in particular drove the conversation with his passion and humour for the game.
Articuno went down, but he was no easier to catch than Lugia. Breaking out of many great throws – and completely evading a few bad ones – I ran out of Pokeballs and it fled the scene. I’m now 0 for 2 and smoke is emitting from my ears. How could I miss the first two?! Unfortunately for the rest of my party, this Articuno slipped through their fingers as well.
Now with everyone having some salt in their system, we headed over to a local community centre that had an Articuno raid going. This one had dozens of people at it, including a few we’d seen from the first two. After a few minutes of coordination, we got to business. Articuno went down, and once again, I only had a handful of Pokeballs to catch it with.
My first throw was a wonky knuckleball that fell way outside the bounds of my aiming circle. Despite having thrown much better balls that it broke out of, I watched with bated breath as it struggled to break free. One shake. Two shakes. Three shakes. Stars and streamers! I had just caught my first legendary Pokemon! While I was elated for my first catch, my wife and mother-in-law saw another Articuno fly the coop.
These first three raids took up the first few hours of our morning. Before we went back on the grind, we stopped for some lunch. Our fourth stop took us to a playground in another city, where dozens of people who looked like local parents were huddled around the gym in hopes of snagging Lugia. Admittedly, these people were not as warm as the others, as one group was only recruiting Mystic players to fill out their raid party.
Once again, catching Lugia proved to be a struggle. Time and time again, it would break out of pretty solid throws. Then, with three balls left, it shook only once before stars flew out of it. Critical catch! Just like that, my set was complete. Sadly, my wife and mother-in-law saw a third consecutive legendary flee. We tried to do one more raid nearby, but oddly, no one showed up.
Sunday was a shining example of Pokemon Go at its best. With new Pokemon to catch in a relatively new cooperative mode, players from all over came together to interact with one another while working together towards a common goal. Our mission isn’t over yet though, as Articuno still eludes them. On top of that, the vague wording from The Pokemon Company at least guarantees that Articuno won’t be a permanent staple of the raid scene. Nonetheless, we’ll continue our quest to catch ’em all!