Optimizing Pokemon Go Gift Exchanges / XP from Friendship levels

The addition of Trading / Friends / Gifts to Pokemon Go has added an extra level of play (work?) to the game. These are my thoughts on how to optimize friendship and gift sending and opening.

My starting assumptions:

  1. The goal of exchanging gifts is to build up friendship levels as quickly as possible so that Pokemon trades cost less stardust. [I am explicitly rejecting the idea that the primary reason to open gifts is to restock items.]
  2. You have not yet reached level 40 (or still care about building up your XP) and are willing to use Lucky Eggs to increase the XP you receive from friendship level increases.  [If you don’t care about XP, optimizing Pokemon gift exchanges becomes much easier.]


The Simple System (for Level 40 Players)

  1. First, send gifts to trainers who do not have a blue halo and who have NOT sent you a gift.
  2. Second, send gifts to trainers who do not have a blue halo but HAVE sent you a gift.
  3. Finally, only open gifts at the end of the day, from players without a blue halo.

Assuming you don’t care about collecting XP from friendship level increases, your only goal is to maximize the total number of friendship increasing events per day. Your primary limit is that you can only open 20 gifts per day. (You can send up to 100 per day on average.)  Since you are still reading this guide, I will assume you are a power player and have more than 40 friends, and regularly spin enough pokestops to collect and send more than 20 gifts per day. [If you raid or trade with a trainer, they get a blue halo and you can skip that day of gift exchanging.]

Ideally, you want to send a gift to each of your friends every other day (e.g. you open a gift on Monday, send them one to open on Tuesday,  receive one to open on Wednesday, and send them one on Thursday.) This means that you each only need to send 15 gifts (and open 15 gifts) to reach the 30 day Ultra Friend level.

Some (the majority?) of the friends on your trainer list are casual players who never hit their 20 gift opens per day limit, and are happy and willing to open a gift from you every day. You want these friends to be able to open one gift from you every day (but, ideally you don’t want them to open TWO gifts from you on the same day, unless you have plenty of extra gifts you don’t know what to do with.)

So, during the day,  send a gift to every person on your friend list who does not yet have the “blue halo” which indicates that a friendship increasing event has already occurred.  Prioritize sending gifts to people who HAVE NOT already sent you a gift. [Because if you don’t have enough gifts to send to everyone, you can always open their gift to trigger the friendship event for the day.] Do NOT send a gift to a trainer that already has a blue halo (wait until the next morning), unless you find yourself with lots of extra gifts and are feeling generous.

At the end of your day, scroll through your friends list for trainers who have sent you a gift and do not yet have a blue halo to open their gift to build up friendship levels.  Don’t send them a gift back until the next day. In this way you maximize the benefit from your limited 20 gift opens per day.  [You may need to open a gift before the end of the day if you want to trigger a 7km egg to fill an open egg slot…..but try to do it from a trainer without a blue halo if possible.]

If you are NOT a level 40 player (or are, but still care about XP), you also want to pay attention to the XP gained at various friendship levels.

The Friendship Levels and XP

You receive XP when you reach a new friendship level with other trainers. Below I’ve listed these based upon the number of days of “friendship events” you need to trigger the bonus.

Good Friend – 1 Day – 3,000 XP   (3,000 / day)
Great Friend – 6 more days – 10,000 XP (1,660 / day)
Ultra Friend – 23 more days – 50,000 XP (2,173 / day)
Best Friend – 60 more days – 100,000 XP (1,666 / day)

[If you ONLY care about XP, and are not looking to build up friendship levels for trading purposes, the obvious fastest way to mine XP out of the friendship system is to post your friend-code online, accept every friend invite you receive, send them one gift, and then delete each trainer as soon as you reach the Good Friend / 1 day level with them….but I digress….]

The Use of Lucky Eggs

If you have a lucky egg running while a friendship increase event occurs, it will double the XP you receive. This is probably not be worth doing for the Good Friend (3000->6000) level, and possibly not for the Great Friend (10,000 -> 20,000) level, but it is certainly worth your while to double 50,000 to 100,000, or 100,000 to 200,000 XP.

Note that a Lucky Egg only doubles the XP bonus if it is running when the “info screen” pops up, so you have to exit the friends list and go back to the main “map” window and allow the level bonus info screen to appear before the lucky egg runs out.

Ideally, both players would have a lucky egg running when triggering the friend level increase bonus, so that both parties get the double XP bonus.

Known Trainer

If you know who the POGO trainer in your friend list is in real life and have their contact info, you can call or text them, send a message via Facebook, etc and arrange a time to trigger the friendship bonus (either in person with a trade or raid, or remotely via opening a gift). Arrange a time to open the gift (say 9:15am) so that both players can trigger a lucky egg 15 minutes earlier (9am) to maximize the overlap window and minimize the chance of a game glitch making it not work.  [If they don’t respond to your message, you can treat them like an Unknown Trainer below…]

Unknown Trainers

However, if you are like me, you probably have a lot of trainer names in your friend list who you don’t know how to contact. Perhaps you traded friend codes on the internet with people 12 timezones away to get distant 7 km eggs. Perhaps you snapped somebodies QR code at a raid and never saw them again. For whatever reason, you don’t know how to contact the other person.

Maybe they would like to use a Lucky Egg, or maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe they pay attention as friendship levels approach, or maybe they just blindly open every gift they receive. Since you are reading this, YOU intend to use a lucky egg, so to make sure that at least one party gets the full benefit from doubling the friend bonus, it is in your own best interest to try and make sure that you control when the friendship bonus is triggered.

Being Greedy

To do this, you modify the above strategy slightly. As you get close to 2 or 3 days away from the friendship bonus being unlocked, wait for them to send you a gift, and DON’T OPEN IT. Then send them gift(s) to open up until reaching the 2 days remaining mark. Once they open your last gift, you still have a gift from them, which you can open the next day to trigger the friendship bonus increase while you have a lucky egg running.

Giving them a Chance

Now maybe the other trainer WOULD like to get double the XP bonus. Here is how to give them a chance at it, even if you can’t communicate, and are holding their gift (and withholding yours) so that you control when the friendship event will happen.

  1. Trigger your lucky egg.
  2. Immediately, send a gift to the other trainer.
  3. Do a mass evolution, trigger egg hatches, do a raid, whatever else you are going to do while the lucky egg is running, wait a total of 25 minutes.
  4. Finally, as your lucky egg is running out, if they have not yet opened your gift, open their gift to trigger the friendship level bonus.
  5. Exit the trainer list to the main “map” screen to allow the info bonus screen to pop up before your lucky egg runs out.

Step 2 above gives the other trainer a 25+ minute widow to receive the gift, notice that if they are running a lucky egg when they open it they can double the XP, trigger a lucky egg, and open your gift. As you are already running a lucky egg, you’ll automatically get the double XP, and so will they. If they don’t notice the gift or react in time, they still get the regular XP bonus, and at least you have given them a (slim?) chance. Obviously,  if they are 12 time zones away, you want to do this in your early morning or very late night to make it more likely they are awake to take advantage of the gift.

Gracefully Avoiding Deadlock

What if somebody on your friend list is withholding a gift and waiting for YOU to send a gift so that they can control when the friendship bonus gets triggered? (The ideas on this page are not hard to come up with independently….)  Wait a few days to make sure they are not just taking a break from the game, and then give them the gift. It’s better to receive the normal friendship XP bonus than no XP, and maybe they will give you a 25 minute window to pop a lucky egg…..

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