Pokémon Go Raid Battles are the biggest thing to happen to the game since, well, forever. These new battles not only introduce super-powerful monsters and new items, but they also lend the game a fresh social element, with trainers having to pool their resources at gyms to take down epic beasts.

If you're confused about this new system - which is understandable given how big a change it is - then don't worry, this handy guide is here to help.

Pokémon Go Raid Battles: The Basics

Raid Battles take place at gyms and task nearby trainers with taking down powerful Pokémon known as Raid Bosses. These monsters often have much more CP than your usual beasts, and you have to defeat them in a certain time limit to be successful.

You can find Raids taking place close to your current location by tapping the "nearby" panel on the main screen and then tapping "Raid". When you have the app open alerts informing you of Raids will also flash up. Above the gym you'll see an egg with a countdown showing the time remaining before the Raid begins - this gives you enough time to get yourself to the gym and prepare with other trainers.

Raids aren't team-based, so you can join forces with players who are in Team Instinct, Team Valor or Team Mystic. Rubbing shoulders with your bitter enemies might seem like a bad idea, but it's the only way you'll be able to take down these massive bosses. 

At the present moment in time Raids are only open to trainers who are level 25 or higher.

If you participate in enough Raids, you'll eventually gain access to a Legendary Raid Pass which gives you the chance to fight Legendary monsters, believed to be present at Tier 5.

Pokémon Go Raid Battles: The Boss Tiers

Raids are graded from 1 to 5. Tier 1 is a pushover, while Tier 4 monsters are a lot tougher. Strong players can potentially solo Tiers 1 to 3, but most Tier 4 battles will require a team.

Here are the monsters you can fight so far, plus the types which are most effective against them:

Tier 1: Bayleef (Fire), Croconaw (Electric, Grass),  Magikarp (Electric, Grass)  Quilava (Rock, Water).

Tier 2: Electabuzz (Ground), Exeggutor (Fire, Bug, Ghost), Magmar (Rock, Water), Muk (Psychic, Ground), Weezing (Psychic, Ground).

Tier 3: Alakazam (Dark, Ghost), Arcanine (Water, Ground), Flareon (Water, Ground), Gengar (Ghost, Dark), Jolteon (Ground), Machamp (Psychic), Vaporeon (Electric, Grass)

Tier 4: Blastoise (Electric, Grass), Charizard (Water, Ground), Lapras (Fighting, Grass, Electric), Rhydon (Fighting), Snorlax (Fighting), Tyranitar (Fighting), Venusaur (Fire, Psychic)

Tier 5: No one actually knows as yet, but it's fair to assume that once this tier goes live it will feature Legendaries.

Pokémon Go Raid Battles: Raid Passes

You might assume that taking part in a Raid is as easy as turning up, but that's not the case. Joining a Raid requires the use of a "Raid Pass" - these can be obtained at a rate of one per day by spinning a gym's photo disc. The other catch is that you can only have one Raid Pass in your inventory at any one time, which means you need to pick your Raid carefully.

Never one to miss out on a money-spinning venture, Niantic has also made "Premium Raid Passes" available as an in-app purchase so you can take part in more Raids if you wish. These cost 100 PokéCoins each.

Pokémon Go Raid Battles: Fighting The Raid Boss

After the egg at the gym hatches the Raid will commence, giving you one hour to defeat the Raid Boss. A maximum of 20 players can join the Raid, and they don't have to be from the same team, either.

However, despite the hour time limit, once you enter a Raid Battle you have just five minutes to defeat the Raid Boss. Like standard battles in the game you can have six creatures with you. Should you fail, it's possible to use potions and revives on your monsters and try again - you can do this as many times as you wish during the one hour time slot.

Defeating the Raid Boss means getting special rewards (see below) and the chance of catching that monster.

When the hour is up, all monsters that were originally assigned to the gym will return.

Pokémon Go Raid Battles: Rewards

Success in a Raid Battle means receiving the following exclusive rewards:

Rare Candies - These comes in handy when you're trying to level up or evolve certain Pokémon. When used on a monster, a Rare Candy will transform into that monster's candy.

Golden Razz Berries - These greatly increase the chance of catching a Pokémon in the wild and can also be used at gyms to fully recover a monster's motivation level.

Technical Machines - Also known as "TMs", these come in Fast and Charged varieties and allow you to teach a new Fast Attack or Charge Attack to a monster, which they will remember forever. Fans of the mainline Pokémon games will be familiar with this mechanic; it's handy when you have a really powerful monster which is saddled with rubbish moves.

Pokémon Go Raid Battles: Capturing The Raid Boss

Once the Raid Boss is defeated, you'll get the chance to capture it. For this, you'll be given Premier PokéBalls. The more damage you did during the initial Raid Battle the more Balls you'll get. Berries can also be used during the fight to increase your chances of a catch. Once you run out of Premier PokéBalls, the boss will escape - better luck next time!