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100 Best Buddies with No Poffins - A Guide
In this article, I'll discuss the basic process, various adjustments to suit different playstyles and special situations, plus other tips and ideas that can help you figure out a rotation that best suits you. It's a long grind, but it's actually a fairly easy one. I know many people don't care for the buddy system at all, and that's totally fine, but it's one of my favourite things in PoGo now. Even after hitting 100, I won't be slowing down.
This is a long article, not for the faint of heart. You've been warned!
- Turn off "Niantic AR" (formerly known as AR+) if it isn't off already. This will save a lot of time during the swaps since you won't need to find a suitable flat surface for your Pokemon.
- Use all 20 swaps a day, ideally without repeating a buddy on the same day. This allows you to work on 21 buddies each day.
- Get 4 hearts on each buddy: play, snapshot, feed, battle.
It takes 300 hearts to achieve best buddy status. 100 best buddies works out to 30,000 hearts total. At a pace of 84 hearts per day, it would take a little more than a year to hit 100 best buddies. Put another way, a pace of just 4 hearts per day on a buddy means you'll achieve best buddy in exactly 75 days. With the full rotation, that means a set of 21 new best buddies every 75 days. You need 375 days to complete 5 sets of 21, for a total of 105 best buddies.
(OK, minor pedantic note - if you do exactly 4 hearts per day, then on day 76 you'll actually only get 20 new buddies to work on, since the one you carry over from the last day will be best buddy already.)
Of course, you can very easily improve on that.
Regular Daily Process
- Work on a handful of "focus" buddies throughout the day.
- For the focus buddies, get additional feeding hearts by feeding after 1 hour (feeding tips are in the next section).
- Switch to the next focus buddy as your schedule allows, but excercise judgement to optimize your activity, especially when the current buddy has hit max walking or feeding hearts.
- When convenient, use up all remaining swaps as per the Baseline Process described above.
All that said, don't worry about optimizing here if it stresses you out. There's no need to be totally on the ball for every switch. I've wasted many hours and many kilometers keeping on buddies that were already maxed out. It's not the end of the world. (As I write this now, I am proof-reading this article and Bidoof has remained my active buddy for 5 hours longer than needed. It's a victory lap, I guess.)
Budgeting Berries for Tasty HeartsWorking on 21 buddies per day can be very demanding on berries. Your available berry supply will depend on your location and daily routine. If you don't regularly spin many stops, you may need to be careful to use the berries you do have as efficiently as possible.
To optimize berry usage, it's helpful to think of how many hearts each berry is worth at any given time. Let's ignore Golden Razz and Silver Pinap for the moment.
One berry fills up 2 sections out of the 6 sections of the buddy's hunger meter. You need 3 berries to fill up a fresh buddy and bring it onto the map. This is worth 1 feeding heart and is also necessary to get the battle and walking hearts. When you're just doing a quick rotation, these first 3 berries are worth 2 hearts total, with potential for more if you walk your buddy. 1 berry = 0.67+ hearts.
You can get another feeding heart after 1 hour, when 2 sections of the hunger meter have depleted. Note that when you feed your buddy, there is a visual indicator of whether it's been long enough to obtain the heart. At the top of the screen, you should see a circle with your buddy's mood; if the heart is obtainable, the tick marks for the meter will be visible around the circle. This check has been reliable even when certain events made the hunger meter kind of wonky.
You need to fill up the meter again to get the heart. If you are extremely on the ball with your feeding and do it at precisely the right moment, you can actually get the heart by feeding a single berry. 1 berry = 1 heart. But if you are even a little bit late, you will need a second berry to top off the meter. 1 berry = 0.5 hearts. If you are especially late and the meter has depleted to below 2 sections remaining, you will need 3 berries. 1 berry = 0.33 hearts.
Berries are therefore most valuable for the initial feeding, especially if you will be walking. If you can afford it, get your buddies onto the map so you can earn the battle heart and hopefully some walking hearts as well. If you need to ration your berries, don't go for extra feeding hearts. If you have barely any berries, reserve them for focus buddies during the day that will be able to gain walking hearts. You should still rotate through all buddies daily, even if some of them only get the play and snapshot hearts. Since I've mostly been staying at home these last few months, I've had days when I needed to ration berries this way.
Golden Razz and Silver Pinap are premium items and very useful in general, so most players won't want to waste them on buddies. However, some players who do a large number of raids or tasks may find that they have an overabundance of them. These special berries fill up 3 sections of the meter instead of just 2. You only need 2 to fill up a fresh buddy (1 berry = 1+ hearts), and 1 will be enough for subsequent feeding hearts if you don't leave it too late (1 berry = 1 heart). It may also be helpful to think of how many regular berries they are worth. For the initial feeding, 1 GSP = 1.5 regular. For subsequent feeding, 1 GSP = 2 regular. A minor intangible benefit that may interest some players is that you can top off your buddy more quickly.
If you can spare a few premium berries but don't want to overuse them, the best method is to use 3 regular berries for the initial feeding and then 1 GSP for each additional feeding heart, assuming you aren't so late that the hunger meter depletes past the halfway mark.
Brisk Battles for Hasty HeartsOnce upon a time, it was easy to earn the battle heart - simply start a training battle against a team leader and run. Unfortunately, it's now necessary to complete most types of battles for it to count for the heart, making the battle heart one of the more time-consuming ones to get.
The exception is Rocket battles. You can earn the battle heart by starting a Rocket battle with your buddy in the team and immediately running. With Rocket Balloons spawning at predictable times throughout the day, it is relatively easy to use one or two balloons in the timeframe that fits your schedule to blast through a big chunk of your buddy rotation. For example, I typically stay up past midnight and run through 8-10 buddies right away using the 12am balloon for the battle heart. Note that Rocket balloons despawn 20 minutes after they appear on your screen, so watch the clock if you want to do the battle for real. Note that this works with Pokestop invasions too, but they don't spawn as reliably and you usually won't have a reliable despawn timer.
Here are some other ways to get the battle heart, in order of my personal preference:
- Lose a training battle to a team leader. This is convenient because you can initiate a training battle whenever and wherever you want, and intentionally losing means you don't have to pay attention to the screen at all. Just initiate the battle and let it run. If you want to make it fast, you can set up a Master League battle party with two 10cp fodder and your buddy. Personally, I have multiple saved parties so I don't have to search/select my buddy each time; this makes the battle take longer but I prefer it for organizational purpose. I'll discuss this further in the next section. Note that Candela is often the best leader for this role since her leads have relatively high damage fast moves. Spark may be as good or better depending on your buddy's typing, while Blanche tends to be worst (at least in ML) because her Suicune may spam low damage Bubble Beam against you.
- Win a training battle against a team leader. Similar convenience, but you need to put in a little more effort. The main advantage is that you can build up your Ace Trainer medal, if that's something you still have to do. There are many posts about the best options to grind Ace Trainer that apply here; I recommend Smack Down TyranitaRhyperioTerrakion vs. Candela because it's consistent, plenty fast, and will work for every buddy since it's done in Master League (Sharpedo strat won't let you bring buddies above 1500cp).
- Gym battle or raid. If you're about to attack a gym or do a raid and your buddy still needs the battle heart, toss it into the back of your party for a "free" heart. I usually don't go out of my way to earn the heart this way, but it is sometimes the most convenient and is also worth an extra EP when working to excite a buddy. You probably shouldn't do this if you're short-manning a difficult raid, of course.
- PvP with a friend. If you don't have connection issues and one player is able to use a trash team, this is a pretty quick method. I don't like it much because it requires imposing on another player (or running an alt).
- Throw a match in GBL. This is a tip from PSwiss20 in the comments below. It really only applies if you don't care about GBL rating and/or you are intentionally tanking. You'll benefit by getting a bit of bonus dust in the process.
Buddy Swapping and OrganizationAlthough swapping is a rather trivial action, there are actually some worthy considerations for your swapping method. There are two ways to swap. You can scroll to the bottom of the Buddy profile screen and tap "Swap Buddies", at which point you'll have a confirmation screen that then allows you to select a new buddy from your storage. Alternatively, you can go through Buddy History, swipe back until you find the desired buddy, then scroll down and tap "Swap Buddies" to directly swap to that buddy. There are merits to both methods and I use a mix of both.
The main advantage of switching through the Buddy Profile is that searching storage is usually faster (at least for me) than swiping through numerous entries in Buddy History. The drawback is that it's more error-prone. Once you are in the selection screen, your swap is used up even if you change your mind and back out. If you're like me, you may forget which buddy you intended to switch to next, and then you'd be stuck with no easy way to check. (Edit: a commenter says that you don't lose a swap if you back out; this might be a recent change!) Sometimes an accidental tap may cause you to switch to a random unintended Pokemon as well.
For the sake of speed, I usually switch through the Buddy Profile during my mass rotation with the midnight Rocket balloon. Otherwise, I take the extra time to go through Buddy History and get exactly the buddy I want. Either way, be careful to tap the Swap and confirmation buttons only once, or else you may accidentally use up multiple swaps on the same buddy. If it lags, wait it out. If the wait becomes unbearable, force close the app, restart and hope for the best.
You can organize your buddies to make the whole process easier. One good option that I don't actually use is to save search strings to find your buddies quickly and easily. You can craft a suitable string and save it according to your own naming scheme. Also keep in mind that you can use buddy1-4 to find buddies at varying friendship levels. (You can also search buddy5 to find best buddies.)
Personally, I like to organize my buddy rotation via PvP battle parties. This won't work so well if you like to keep multiple saved parties for actual PvP, but I usually just have one for each league and make changes to it as needed. I use 7 other PvP parties to organize the 21 buddies in my rotation.
The saved parties are helpful for me when switching through buddies rapidly, because putting them in teams acts as a sort of mnemonic. If I try to run through a dozen Pokemon while also watching Youtube, I'm likely to forget or make a mistake. But I can recall a team of 3 fairly easily, and I become familiar with each trio as it becomes a regular unit in my rotation over several weeks. If I need a reminder, it's quick and easy to check my battle parties.
They are also handy for doing the battle heart as well, especially with some careful organization. I usually have a handful of low level buddies (sometimes intentionally left low level for this purpose) that I can group together in a team. At the end of the day, I can earn the battle hearts for these buddies by sending them into a quick losing battle against a team leader. This does take a little longer than adding each buddy to a 10cp team, but I prefer the convenience of using saved parties without adjustment.
Excited BuddiesThere are numerous guides already posted about exciting your buddy. Here's one. One advantage that these guides tend to omit is that it's not only the total achievable hearts that are doubled while excited -- the hearts earned per action are doubled as well (not counting the bonus hearts for new places and buddy gifts). That means that once you have an excited buddy, it's not too difficult to finish maxing out its hearts for the day.
Here's the process, in case you want to try it. Every 30 min (you may want to set a timer), check in with your buddy and do every action you can. Feed a single berry, play, snapshot, battle a gym, battle in a raid, battle a Rocket, battle another trainer, battle your team leader. Yes, every one of those different battle things is worth a separate point. In practice, you won't usually do the raid, and the gym battle is iffy too unless you're out and about. In-between these check-ins, do a quick snapshot just to prevent decay. Repeat until your buddy is excited. You'll get there even faster if you're out walking or if you're lucky enough to get a bonus heart, e.g. from a souvenir, since those actions are worth 3 EP instead of just 1.
There is some nuance to feeding. You only get 1 point for 1 berry per 30 min, so instead of using 2 berries or a premium berry to get the heart, you should only do the 1 berry for the point. You'll get the feeding hearts more efficiently once the buddy is excited, so there's no need to rush it early on. If your berry budget is bad, you can opt to only feed once every other session until excited. It will take a little longer to reach excited status, but you'll get better use out of each berry spent.
Once it's excited, continue to check in with a snapshot every 30 min or so to prevent decay. If you do lose excited status, it should be fairly easy to get it back (unless you've ignored your buddy for hours).
Whether it's worth the effort is up to you. It's not as difficult as you might imagine, but it does require frequent interruptions to your day for a few hours. When I decide to do it, I try to start the process a couple hours before I go out. This way, I can maximize my walking distance and earn all 6 walking hearts in 6km. Granted, if you'll be walking a fair bit, the walking EP can really speed up the excitement process. The half distance for candy may also be an attractive prospect that makes you want to keep your buddy on for longer.
Event OptimizationEvents aren't consistent enough for me to provide exact tips and tricks here, but keep events in mind as you work on your best buddies. Sometimes the benefits can be surprising. For example, Go Fest 2020 had a bonus where eligible buddies would bring a Confetti souvenir approximately every 30 minutes. The extra 3EP per souvenir made getting excited buddies much easier.
Also consider that the way to optimize an event may run counter to typical daily strategy. Think about opportunity cost vs. benefit of various actions. For example, during events when excited buddy status is easy to attain, it may be more optimal to switch buddies regularly rather than max out hearts on each excited buddy. Instead of waiting an extra hour with a buddy to get 2 more feeding hearts and maybe some walking hearts, you'll likely get more overall hearts by swapping and getting the next buddy excited so that it can get 3 extra hearts (play, battle, snapshot) in addition to whatever else you earn in that time. There was one day where I got excited status on something like 18 buddies, it was amazing.
Some Extra TipsOnce you've got your buddy rotation rolling, you'll likely have buddies at various buddy levels. I recommend swapping through Good Buddies quickly instead of keeping them as focus buddies, because they won't yet have the Catch Assist perk. Just do the baseline activity with them until they get to Great Buddy.
I've noticed that buddy gifts (presents and souvenirs) seem to get queued. For example, if I have a Good or Great Buddy with me for a long time (e.g. overnight), then the next Ultra Buddy I swap in tends to bring a souvenir right away. If you are a souvenir collector, this may help you to target a specific buddy for souvenirs.
Edit: I suggest holding off on mega evolvable Pokemon as buddies for now. I went pretty far down this route, but Niantic has announced that your active buddy will be a source of mega energy. Best wait until those changes are live. If you're curious, I answered a question about how I chose my buddies here.
Edit 2: You can "chain" buddy gifts by not opening them right away. I'm not very familiar with this technique, but it was first brought to my attention in a comment by SwordMaster21 and a detailed post was recently written about it by kookaboros. I recommend checking that post for details as this trick will not only help earn additional hearts but can also make exciting a buddy easier. And of course, it means extra items, should you be in need!
Final ThoughtsIt took me 322 days to hit 100 best buddies. That's a pace of 93 hearts a day, which actually is not much higher than the 84 heart baseline I described above. Despite earning extra feeding and distance hearts throughout the day, bonus hearts for new places and gifts, and even more hearts on the occasional excited buddy, those gains were also balanced out by days where I simply didn't have enough berries, wasted swaps due to mistakes or glitches, or sacrificed a swap to activate the buddy boost for PvP. There are also several buddies that I started and then abandoned, e.g. a Regice that was replaced with a shundo Regice and an old Gyarados that was replaced by a new Aqua Tail Gyarados.
The bottom-line is that 100 best buddies is not that incredible a feat, and it is absolutely within your reach. It's a grind, but it's reasonably easy to do. And if you don't care for it, that's fine too -- you're not missing much!
I hope this guide helps some of you out there who are still working toward the gold medal! And if any of you are inspired, I highly recommend checking out and hopefully submitting to the Buddy Dex by MattZapp17 (more info here). I've had great fun with it, picking some buddies I otherwise wouldn't have chosen to help fill out its missing pieces.
If you are curious, look in the comments below for a link to the gallery of my first 100 best buddies, all maxed to level 40, all with unique non-barcode nicknames. Automod won't let me include it here!
And if you made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you are having a great Buddy Adventure of your own!
Profile of Damwon's Playstyle
Here is my thesis:
Damwon's identity as a team is that they play team compositions in absolute textbook style.
- They do not play for any particular tempo, win condition, or timing, rather they rely on fundamentals to win. This is not to say Damwon is some infallible monolith of perfect play - rather, Damwon plays by very simple rules
- If Damwon drafts an early game team composition that is top-centric, e.g. Renekton-Nidalee, Camille-Nidalee-TF, they will look for a dive pre-10 minutes on the Renekton lane, likely with an 8 minute Herald take off their solo lane priority, and look to accelerate Renekton and crack him out of lane. Recent example games
- DRX vs DWG - Game 2 LCK Summer Finals https://youtu.be/DnQg-1bU_A0?t=575 At precisely around 8 minutes on the clock, you see both of Damwon's solo laners begin to aggressively push their lane opponents in. Beryl moves to mid lane to ensure that Jayce cannot take any aggressive stance, Nidalee begins to solo Herald from the solo priority she has. This is transitioned into a top lane dive threat on Volibear and ultimately a first brick take https://youtu.be/DnQg-1bU_A0?t=614
- DRX vs DWG - Game 3 LCK Summer Finals https://youtu.be/08R0YFzF3LY?t=574 Exact same setup. Beryl begins moving into mid lanes, solo lanes push, Nidalee takes Herald. https://youtu.be/08R0YFzF3LY?t=705 Damwon sees DRX take the Dragon, Canyon moves for a top lane dive. Kill converts, first brick is taken
- DWG vs DRX - Worlds Quarterfinals Game 1 https://youtu.be/fxQKa4edyzY?t=625 5 man pull for the Herald which devolves into a winning teamfight for Damwon. Herald is originally intended to be used top but DRX rotates to stop https://youtu.be/fxQKa4edyzY?t=792 DWG is not willing to take the 2v2 so they compromise for a lackluster Herald summon mid lane where it does not even crash.
- DWG vs RGE - Worlds Groups Day 2 https://youtu.be/0uMibN_j3eE?t=813 Beryl rotates for Herald as Pantheon. DWG actually intends to drop Herald mid here for Sylas (as accelerating Lulu is much less consequential): https://youtu.be/0uMibN_j3eE?t=996 but good rotation from Rogue prevents this from succeeding. Instead, they opt for plan B, which is still just crack Nuguri out of top https://youtu.be/0uMibN_j3eE?t=1052
- DWG vs JDG - Groups Day 1 https://youtu.be/7VnmOO9mDIQ?t=916 Damwon does the Herald a bit later on this one due to timings (they took Dragon off bot priority earlier but took longer to rotate. But still the same set play. An early Herald take into: https://youtu.be/7VnmOO9mDIQ?t=980 A play top side to crack Nuguri out of lane. Obviously this doesn't work, but it's still the same play they make against DRX
- DWG vs PSG - Groups Day 3 https://youtu.be/qhJAbFGupzg?t=880 Early Herald take, 4 man pull. Canyon drops Herald mid because top lane has been heavily focused by PSG and Damwon is unsure if Nuguri is accelerated enough to be worth funneling gold into and because they cannot find proper footing to make a play happen https://youtu.be/qhJAbFGupzg?t=994
- DWG vs JDG - Groups Day 6 https://youtu.be/pc2evGr2D4Q?t=1002 Same play again. Notice Alistar has begun moving towards Herald again. In this game, the Camille is ahead so they look for a reset timing to try to crack Sett out. https://youtu.be/pc2evGr2D4Q?t=1109
- In all of these games, the early leads accrued off rotational play around objectives like plates and early towers usually lead to a massive snowball in gold advantage. In many of these games, the snowball is relatively bloodless. Damwon is not really a "skirmishing" team, they're much more map-based and macro-based. Not every team that plays for "early-game" plays for massive fights or 3v3s or skirmishes. in Damwon's case, most of their early game drafts are centered around top side objective control in turrets, heralds, plates, and the rare kill. This isnt to say they aren't good at skirmishing or don't skirmish at all - just that they oft don't do so if a lead can be accrued without the risk that an early fight brings.
- It's important to note that every single one of these drafts from Damwon are playing around a strong 3-man core on the top side of the map and are drafting early-mid game team compositions.
- If Damwon drafts a mid/late-game front-to-back teamfight comp, they obviously do not do this. In general, when Damwon plays scaling comps, they play relatively anemic early games that feature incredibly low risk. They give objectives until they hit proper key item spikes to blow the game open in one teamfight. This does not mean they do nothing, they do take what objectives you give them for free, but in general, when Damwon plays scaling, they play to scale. Example games:
- Damwon vs PSG - Groups Day 6 https://youtu.be/7X7DJR2judI
- DWG vs DRX - LCK Summer Finals Game 1 https://youtu.be/r03GtVJw82Q
- DWG vs DRX - Worlds Quarterfinals Game 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMfi6eDLs_M
- DWG vs DRX - Worlds Quarterfinals Game 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEWgfDPqY5c
- I'm too lazy to list every game where they just play scaling and the examples aren't super interesting, but basically, they scale until they can do this: https://youtu.be/r03GtVJw82Q?t=1463
- And if you watch the way Damwon takes teamfights in FtB comps, it's very textbook. That fight against DRX is possibly the best example I can give. They do not break formation almost ever. You can check the other DRX QF games, they very rarely will ever break out of front-back phalanx (as LS likes to call it)
- This isn't to say Damwon does anything particularly special. In fact, Damwon, if I had to describe it, does the least special things of any team at the tournament. If you had to write a manual on expectations for what a draft should do Damwon, tries to play that manual out.
- There are obviously exceptions. The primary caveat to this is that Damwon will play around Canyon over the rulebook. This sometimes leads to disaster:
- Canyon really wants a red buff (DRX vs DWG LCK Summer Finals Game 2) https://youtu.be/DnQg-1bU_A0?t=264 In fairness this one can be interpreted still as a the textbook play cause they see Lillia top, but he doesn't have appropriate priority in the mid-lane for this
- Canyon really wants a red buff part 2 electric boogaloo (DRX vs DWG Quarterfinals Game 2): https://youtu.be/USI8ppEAIJQ?t=1158
- If Damwon drafts an early game team composition that is top-centric, e.g. Renekton-Nidalee, Camille-Nidalee-TF, they will look for a dive pre-10 minutes on the Renekton lane, likely with an 8 minute Herald take off their solo lane priority, and look to accelerate Renekton and crack him out of lane. Recent example games
If we look at their one loss to JDG, they drafted an early game team comp, failed to create the leads created in all the example gives I gave (in part due to their normal rotations critically failing thanks to crafty map play out of JDG), and were forced to teamfight their way out of the hole. It is important to note that even in that losing game, once Damwon got behind, they still continued to try to force as many teamfights as possible through the early-mid game because they knew their comp was one forced to accelerate. Their team comp was a brawly mid-game team fight comp that excelled at securing objectives in Kalista. And even in the losing situation, that is exactly how they played said team comp (they even got Dragon Soul).
Damwon does not play LPL League of Legends, or LEC League of Legends, they just play good fundamental League of Legends. Now you guys might be saying:
"But TormentedLoL, aren't you just jacking off to the Korean team now? Don't all good teams just play good League of Legends? Aren't you just painting Damwon as this unbeatable monolith that plays their compositions perfectly."
And I'd say
- Yes, but most have their own particular identities about how they want to play. If you look at how Suning plays, I'd say most of the times they don't execute specific drafts in a set playstyle
- The weakness of this playstyle is incredibly obvious. I'm not trying to set up Damwon to be unbeatable. In fact, I think Damwon's largest liability, is precisely in the fact that you should be able to guess at exactly how they want to play the map the moment draft ends - maybe even halfway through draft.