Big rules here, little rules down there, let’s go.
To get into Team Galactic’s Eterna City building, we need Cut.
Jerry already has a better Normal attack (Headbutt), while for King Louie this is pretty much a straight upgrade over Scratch (which, I will remind you, is currently the only damaging attack he is allowed to use). The downside, of course, is that Monferno will have way better options than Bibarel and way more competition for moveslots in the future… but, eh, these rules restrict our TM use, so it’s not like we’re playing under optimal conditions anyway.
Getting into Team Galactic’s base at last is definitely reason to celebrate with a card draw.
Ace – Waterfall: You cannot switch Pokémon unless one faints or is forced out of play, and cannot reorder your party except at a Pokémon Centre or other healing location. This rule is overwritten if you draw a Nine/Snake Eyes, and ends if you draw another Ace.
Nice! Not especially interesting, mind you, but nice. We already have an Ace in play, so this one cancels it out. Our moves are still heavily restricted, but at least I can switch and reorder the party whenever I want.
You’ve always gotta love it when someone gets this close to the point.
Bookmark this quote; we’ll need it later.
All the Team Galactic members in this building got significant level boosts in Platinum; the original versions just aren’t a very serious threat. This scientist in particular not only has his Kadabra jacked up to level 20, he opens the battle by using an X Special on it. Game Freak do know how to create really nasty threats if they feel like it – they just usually choose not to.
Anyway, here we are at the top floor, where respected Eterna City community leader, Bike Shop Manager Guy, is being held hostage by/trying to negotiate with Commander Jupiter, the leader of the Team Galactic forces here. Unfortunately for Jupiter, both of her Pokémon are ones that get absolutely wrecked by Geodude, who is also my only Pokémon not currently being hobbled by multiple nasty rules.
Like Mars’ Purugly, this Skuntank has evolved much earlier than it should normally be able to and has pretty high stats compared to most early-game Pokémon. Skuntank’s Night Slash is vicious, even against a Pokémon like Andi whose defence is so high she can kinda pretend she has de facto resistance to all physical attacks. With their strongest attacks locked, any of my other Pokémon would probably get trounced here. (Also, this is Andi’s first time rolling a 10 on Magnitude, making that last attack even more powerful than Earthquake!)
Yeah, Bike Shop Manager Guy, they baffle me a little as well, to be honest.
Of all the antagonists in the core Pokémon games, except for maybe the Aether Foundation, I think Team Galactic are the hardest to parse. Even in minor encounters with the antagonists of other games, you kinda understand what they’re doing and why; you basically get what their deal is. Team Aqua/Magma’s early-game attempts to get hold of submarine parts feed into their seafloor expedition later; Team Plasma are out in Unova evangelising their “Pokémon liberation” ideology; Team Flare turn out to be using the life force of all the Pokémon they’ve stolen to power the Ultimate Weapon, which is a bit abstract but does at least tie in with Xerneas and Yveltal. Team Galactic say they’re researching “energy” and Jupiter claims that Mars’ mission at the Valley Windworks was to “gather energy,” and it seems like they mean that in the fairly concrete sense of electrical power. Power generation is kind of a background theme of the environments of Diamond and Pearl, with the coal mines in Oreburgh City, the wind farm outside Floaroma Town and the solar panels in Sunyshore City. But then the legendary Pokémon of these games signify these very big, abstract concepts – time, space, knowledge, emotion, will – so there isn’t really a thematic link there, and it’s also not really clear what they ever needed to gather energy for or why they were researching energy. For that matter, I’m not even sure why they ever needed to steal Pokémon, which only drew attention to them; if the commanders had just kept their heads down, the good guys might never have noticed anything they were doing until it was far too late.
Hell, after you beat Jupiter they just pack up and leave. This isn’t a Silph Co. situation; this is Team Galactic’s non-secret building in Eterna City, they have all this fµ¢£ing office space for like a dozen people! What were they doing here that just suddenly doesn’t matter anymore???
Anyway, Bike Shop Manager Guy, as thanks for our help, insists on giving us a free bicycle to continue the tradition of Pokémon protagonists never paying for expensive bikes, which is convenient because we can’t leave Eterna City without one.
I want to go back to Eterna Forest and check out the Old Chateau before moving on, but this little prick won’t let me go that way until I’ve checked out Cycling Road, and I’m not sure how far you have to go before he’ll be satisfied, so I guess I’ll just have to move ahead.
Cycling Road is a new area, so let’s draw a card.
The Magician: Your Pokémon may not use physical attacks, unless they have no special attacks. Pokémon in your active party with no special attacks must learn one as soon as possible (from a TM if one is available). This rule is overwritten if you draw Strength.
Only Jerry knows any special attacks and he’s already barred from using Water Gun by the Elements rule, so he’ll be stuck with Hidden Power. The others only have physical attacks, but I have to try to teach them at least one special attack each using TMs or, failing that, any special attacks they learn as they level up.
The only TM for a special attack that I have right now is Grass Knot, which as luck would have it is actually a pretty decent move for Monferno. It’d be a better move if it weren’t the only one he was allowed to use, but hey, we can’t have everything. Andi can still ignore rules, so she’s fine (at least for now). Brighteyes has no special attacks on his level up list until Discharge at level 48 (56 if he evolves into Luxray). Assuming I don’t find any TMs that are compatible with Luxio, he can’t fully comply with this rule, but we’ve made a good faith attempt with the resources we have, which is enough to satisfy the Magician.
There’s another corner-case interaction to look at here. King Louie and Jerry now have only one usable move each – Grass Knot and Hidden Power. We’re still under Shibarianne’s torment rule, which says our Pokémon can’t use a move twice in a row. If a Pokémon with only one move is actually afflicted by the move Torment (or if you combo Torment with Encore or something), it’ll be forced to use Struggle every other turn, but it’s impossible to voluntarily use Struggle. In general, the Kingslocke is written with a “follow as many rules as you can” spirit, so I’d rule that a Pokémon in this situation can use its one remaining move repeatedly. If you were more hardcore than me, you could interpret this as forcing King Louie to switch out or use an item after every time he uses Grass Knot (although in practice I think you’d just voluntarily box him at that point).
urgggghhhh it’s still so bad though
Grass Knot is generally considered pretty good in competitive, because relatively few fully evolved Pokémon are in the lightest weight categories and Pokémon that are weak to Grass attacks (Water, Rock, Ground) disproportionately tend to be heavy. Early game Pokémon are often a lot lighter though.
The fact that I have Andi as my champion, allowing her to ignore other rules, remains a significant saving grace in all this.
Getting to the end of Cycling Road is apparently enough to be allowed to backtrack to Eterna Forest and explore the Old Chateau. I’m kinda hoping I’ll draw something here that will give me a chance to catch a Gastly, so let’s see…
The Four of Wands! Perfect!
Four – Elements: Your Pokémon may not use attacks that get a Same-Type Attack Bonus (unless they have no un-STABed damaging moves; note that moves with fixed damage like Dragon Rage and Nightshade do not have STAB). Pokémon in your active party with no un-STABed attacks must learn one as soon as they can (use a TM if necessary). This rule ends if you draw another Four. You may catch the first Pokémon you see in this area that does not share a type with any of your current party Pokémon.
We already had a four in play, so that’s another annoying rule gone (at least for now). King Louie is still screwed because of the Magician, but that opens up Spark for Brighteyes (who has no special attacks at all) and Water Gun for Jerry. And we have no Ghost or Poison Pokémon in our party, which means…
We’re still not allowed to use female Pokémon, except for Andi, so Madame Malheur will have to sit in the box with Blinkerbel the Chingling for now, but it’s still nice to expand the roster.
And here, of course, is the true secret treasure of the Old Chateau: the mysterious, ghostly cake known only as the Old Gateau, a pun that is sure to earn the great Nob Ogasawara a place of honour in Translator Heaven. In the original Japanese, the pun here is on 洋館 (manor, stately house) and ヨウカン (a sort of sweet jelly made from red bean paste and agar), which are both pronounced yōkan.
That seems like a good place to stop for today – now that we have the power of the Old Gateau on our side, we can’t possibly lose!