Big rules here, little rules down there, let’s go.
Look, I know everyone was eager to see me take on Canalave City with only a drastically underlevelled Blissey and Girafarig, an Unown and a Blizzard/Slam Quagsire, but I felt like I had to do just a teensy bit of off-screen grinding, maybe not quite enough to get Du Fromage and Anna up to the levels of the old team, but enough for them to be… well, competent.
Yeah, I guess that’ll do.
Anyway, route 219 is pretty short and straightforward, we get a few battles for Anna and Du Fromage to prove themselves, but nothing intense. And now it’s on to Canalave City!
One of Professor Rowan’s minions is waiting in the Canalave gatehouse with a Pokédex upgrade that lets the Pokédex display the separate male and female forms of Pokémon that have them. He also makes an ominous comment about Professor Rowan become “concerned” with the activities of Team Galactic.
Reaching Canalave City means we can finally delete old, unwanted HM moves clogging up our movesets.
Well, this is abrupt.
Fortunately, Anna learned Assurance, a Dark-type attack, a few levels ago. Without that, she’d be stuck with Shadow Ball as her only allowed move and no option to switch out – which would make this fight against Staravia literally unwinnable.
Staravia’s Take Down is very powerful, but also makes it pretty fragile.
Oh, hey, you have one of these now. This seems possibly very bad for Anna.
But that just means we get to try out our brand new strategy: KILL IT WITH FIRE.
Unfortunately, Flamethrower is not quite enough to knock out Heracross, and it gets to fire back with a lethal Brick Break.
Okay, so… this is not, classically, what anyone would call a “good” position… but even though Heracross has solid special defence, it’s wounded; Effie can handle this, right?
…and the answer is a resounding “kind of?”
Well, this isn’t fantastic. Reminder: Effie’s Hidden Power type is Ice, which is of course very bad against Ponyta. Barriam also still has a Roselia waiting in the wings, and my last Pokémon is a Quagsire. The obvious play is of course to switch and let Effie handle the Roselia (or try to) but remember, kids: I can’t switch and I have to use my Pokémon in their party order. I’m just going to have to heal Effie and let them give this their best shot.
Oof. Well, you tried. Press F to pay respects.
I think it might be time to break out a revive, just so we have some kind of answer to Roselia; Alex can take one turn of whatever this Ponyta’s got.
Alex is obviously going to lose this fight, but the Ace of Swords demands that she see it through anyway. The question is whether it’s a better use of her time to revive Anna or try to nail Roselia with a Blizzard.
Alex’s Quick Claw comes in clutch to let her fire off a Blizzard, but it’s not quite enough. Roselia lays Toxic Spikes, then outruns Alex on the next turn and one-shots her with a Giga Drain that also neatly heals off almost all the damage she did.
Okay. KILL IT WITH FIRE, take two:
This Flamethrower isn’t enough to one-shot Roselia either, but the responding Giga Drain barely scratches Du Fromage’s almighty fatness.
The problem is, we’re, uh… sort of… down to one Pokémon, low health, poisoned… I think healing Du Fromage makes marginally more sense than reviving Anna, but I don’t have access to full restores yet, so dealing with the poison is an extra turn.
The first Sweet Kiss fizzles, but the next one takes and buys us some extra turns for first-aid. Once the poison is gone, Du Fromage can out-heal Prinplup with Softboiled and try to whittle it down with Flamethrower (note: although Empoleon is Water/Steel, Prinplup is just a Water-type, so it still resists Fire attacks).
Prinplup makes things a lot harder by getting an attack boost from Metal Claw and then coming within a hair’s breadth of finishing the battle with a very lucky Fury Attack (four hits, one of them critical), but of course that attack boost is a double-edged sword if you’re confused…
That was way closer than any of our previous battles; you have to give him that. That Heracross packs quite a punch.
The Canalave Gym is right there if we want it, but there’s another area we can explore first: Iron Island, which we can reach by boarding a ship in the Canalave port. In the interests of making my team suck less, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
The exterior of Iron Island is barren and uninteresting, but inside its caves is a huge old iron mine full of cave Pokémon and exploring trainers. These two staircases lead to areas that are kind of separate and only link up at this landing, but one of them is very small and I don’t think their wild Pokémon are different, so I think I’ll just draw one card for the whole island.
…oh boy. Well, this is happening.
The Devil: Catch the first Pokémon you see in this area, then choose a new party of six Pokémon at random from all the Pokémon you own, except for Pokémon in the Vessel. Immediately revoke any ongoing rules that would make this team illegal. You must use as many of those Pokémon as possible until this rule is overwritten.
I wrote the Devil rule specifically to cause absolute chaos in the mid- and late-game when players might have begun to amass pretty large collections of Pokémon – say, 30+. I have close to 40. But before adjudicating anything else, I get to catch the first Pokémon I see here, so let’s take a look…
Y’know what, it’s fine, I didn’t want you anyway.
All right, so. Here’s how this is gonna work. In total I have 39 Pokémon (not counting Tippi, who is in the Vessel and beyond the reach of all powers human or divine): 19 male Pokémon in the “MISANDRY” box, 13 female ones in “Box 1,” 3 in the Mate Crate and my 4 current party members. I’m going to assign each of them a number based on their positions in their respective boxes, going left to right then top to bottom – the male Pokémon will be numbers 1-19, the females numbers 20-32, Andi, King Louie and Divine will be 33-35 and Anna, Du Fromage, Effie and Alexolotl (in that order) will be 36-39. Then we just plug that range into a random number generator and see what comes out!
(rolled 15 twice, so had to get another one)
So let’s see what the new team is!
Next step: revoke any rules that would make this team illegal.
- Sunfire has a mild nature while Judy is gentle, and those are both natures that reduce defence, so the Hermit is gone.
- We have Pokémon from multiple different generations, so Judgement is gone.
- The Moon doesn’t care which Pokémon I use, so it stays.
- The Ace of Swords, likewise, doesn’t care who’s in my party.
- The Eight of Wands says we can’t use King Louie, so that one goes, but the other two Eights – Cups and Pentacles, which tell me I can’t use Andi Site or Divine – are staying.
- We have three male Pokémon on the team, so the Six of Wands is out.
- And the Four of Pentacles, once again, doesn’t say anything about which Pokémon we can use, so it stays.
Of course, that leaves the one rule we all care about most: Justice, the card that says I have to use Effie as long as I possibly can. Justice and the Devil are both cards that tell you to use “as many of these Pokémon as possible” while complying with other rules. I now have a total of seven Pokémon that I have to use if I can. It’s not really clear to me whether Justice “makes this team illegal” or not, because Justice allows other rules to take precedence over it. I think my ruling is that, of the seven Pokémon I’m supposed to use, I can choose the six I want – however, Justice is still in play, and if a spot on my party opens up (for instance, if my next card is another Eight), Effie will have priority over anyone else who could be eligible.
And the last thing to adjudicate: the Four of Pentacles doesn’t care about my Pokémon, but it does care about their moves. Smeagull and Judy have no damaging moves without STAB, and Gran Nite has one, but it’s Selfdestruct and I’m prepared to rule that Selfdestruct doesn’t count. All three of them get to reach into the TM sack and see what comes out. Let’s see… Gran could just take Brick Break, that’d be a solid choice… Fire Blast for Judy would be hilarious, but a little impractical with Machop’s poor special attack stat; Poison Jab makes more sense… as for Smeagull… hmm. Wingull can’t learn any of the non-Water, non-Flying damaging moves that I have TMs for. I could admit defeat here and just let Smeagull ignore the rule, at least until he evolves into Pelipper (I think he’ll be able to learn Hyper Beam at that point). But I think the principle of making a good faith effort requires me to use all the resources at my disposal – including popping back to Veilstone City to see if I can buy something. Unfortunately I can’t afford the ludicrous markup on an Ice Beam TM from the Game Corner, but Blizzard should be well within my budget.
So, to recap:
- Gran Nite: Brick Break
- Judy: Poison Jab
- Smeagull: Blizzard
Right. Where were we?
Well, I can slap an Exp. Share on the lower level Pokémon, starting with Judy; the wild Graveler we encounter in here as we move should be a pretty easy source of experience thanks to King Louie’s Grass Knot. By the time we’re done with Iron Island, everyone should be… well, perhaps not up to speed, exactly, but at least non-useless (which, y’know, is more than I could say for the old party).
Of course, the trainers pose a bit more of a problem. This would not normally be an impossible fight for King Louie; Staravia’s Flying attacks are nasty, but a good Flame Wheel or two will put it in its place. When all you’ve got to work with is Grass Knot and Double Team, though, it’s… tricky. (I’ve erased Cut from King Louie’s moveset so it doesn’t keep him from learning better moves later, but I might need to give him Strength instead just so he has options)
Fortunately, Sunfire has better choices available.
Furthermore, help is at hand. This guy is Riley, a trainer who’s here to investigate why the wild Pokémon of Iron Island seem disturbed. He’s a temporary ally like Cheryl or Mira, who’ll stick with us in Iron Island, fight alongside us with his Lucario and heal up our Pokémon after each fight.
Riley’s company also means that anywhere we go is effectively a healing location, which means that even though I still can’t switch Pokémon during battles and have to use my Pokémon in strict party order (because of the Ace of Swords), I can change my party order after any battle. To be honest, I’m thinking about changing this component of the Ace rule when I do my big revision at the end of this run anyway; it mostly just encourages you to visit the Pokémon Centre after every single battle, and there are only a few places or combinations of rules where it can actually affect how battles themselves will go (e.g. if you’re playing with both an Ace and the Hierophant, who restricts your Pokémon Centre visits).
Lucario isn’t a particularly fragile Pokémon, but there are a lot of opponents here that can exploit its weaknesses, and Riley has no other Pokémon, so with a bit of bad luck you can easily find yourself fighting two-against-one (sometimes even against wild Pokémon, if a Graveler gets a lucky high Magnitude). Still, a lot of the other trainers here also have only one Pokémon, so I’m usually able to equalise before my team gets wiped.
There are even occasional wild Steelix down here. Pretty tough, obviously, but good experience, and an interesting early exception to the rule that you don’t normally see Pokémon that require trade evolutions in the wild.
Well, this doesn’t look suspicious at all.
Congratulations to Gran Nite on beating Andi Site to be the first of my three Geodude to evolve!
Listen. My dudes. What – and I cannot stress this enough – is even your deal?
I don’t think we need a blow-by-blow of this battle, since these guys are barely even on the level of the wild Pokémon in here. Let’s just say that this is the start of turn 1…
…and this was the end of turn 1…
…and this is how much damage we wound up taking over the course of the whole battle.
Also: yay! Smeagull!
Riley also has a Pokémon egg for us – a Riolu, the baby form of Lucario, which I think you can only get here in the original Diamond and Pearl. My team is full, but I’ll be back for it later.
And here’s the state of the team. Like I said, not exactly ready for the Canalave Gym, but at least ready to not get slaughtered by it.
I think this is a good point to stop, but we may as well take a look at our card for the gym before we end. And it is…
Five – Guys: You cannot use your female Pokémon (unless you have no male or genderless Pokémon). This rule is overwritten by drawing a Six/Chicks, and ends if you draw another Five. You may catch the first male wild Pokémon you see in this area.
…yeah… yeah, that figures.
We’ll deal with that next time.