Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 24

Big rules here, little rules down there, let’s go.

We’ve successfully dealt with Team Galactic and saved the region (world? universe?), but there’s still a much more important challenge ahead: earning an eighth badge and defeating the Elite Four, as well as that goth lunatic with the Psyduck medicine.  Because of the plot, the east road to Sunyshore City (yes, one n, it feels wrong every time I type it) is now open.

But first, I have an important promise to fulfill.

No amount of EVs will ever make a Golem’s special attacks “good” in any meaningful sense, but Andi did her best with very limited options and resources up on Mount Coronet, and I’m going to do my best for her.  Who knows?  Maybe she’ll fight a Skarmory one day and it’ll all be worthwhile (I think Fire Blast on Golem might even be meta in the gen II legacy format, for precisely this reason, although the gen I and II EV mechanics do make it much easier to run mixed physical/special builds).

Anyway.  The road is open.  We have a new area.  Let’s draw.

Eight – Mate: Box the Pokémon in your current party that has been with you the longest over the course of the game (this may be a judgement call).  You cannot use that Pokémon again unless another card revokes this rule.

uh

okay we can figure this out

There’s no way it’s Ser Loras or Moon Moon; we can strike them off right away.

I had Andi Site from when I caught her in Oreburgh City through to the Lost Tower by Solaceon Town, then she went in the Mate Crate and didn’t come back out until just recently, when we drew the Tower at the base of Mount Coronet.

Madame Malheur originally joined the main party when we first crossed Mount Coronet, drew the World and wiped a rule that was prohibiting me from using female Pokémon; she was with us until Solaceon Town, a little while after Andi Left, when I drew another Five, then rejoined the party at the same time as Andi, so that means Andi is well in the lead.

Karpe Doom joined the party at the same time as Madame Malheur (I caught him in Mount Coronet, off the World), and left just before she did, when I caught Effie in the Solaceon Ruins and couldn’t use him anymore because they have the same nature.  Unlike Madame Malheur, Karpe Doom came back for a little while when I was able to box Effie, just after leaving Veilstone City, and then stayed with the party until Effie’s return in Pastoria City, with an interruption in the middle when I briefly had to switch to an all-female party (…I know I specifically designed this run to be convoluted but sweet Bird Jesus this is complicated).  That makes his time with the party longer than Madame Malheur’s, but probably still shorter than Andi’s; his return wasn’t that long, all things considered, and didn’t include any big milestone events.

And as for Otto, he first joined as an active member in Pastoria City when King Louie got put in the Mate Crate and I needed a replacement, then stayed with us for most of the Effie-centric Johto-only era until I set out for Canalave City and needed to switch to an all-female party.  He’s the only one who hasn’t clearly had less time in the party than Andi; I fought two gym battles with him, we went through that whole loop around Celestic Town, we explored a bunch of water areas…

You know what, it’s close, and to be honest Otto would be a lot more useful to keep than Andi right now with the Magician in play, but I think on reflection it probably has to be him.  Besides, Andi already did her time.

Sorry, Otto.

There are no hard rules on his replacement right now, but it should ideally be someone who is at least decent with special attacks and already fully evolved…

That… actually doesn’t leave many options.  I think the obvious choice has to be Du Fromage.  I feel like I maybe ought to replace Andi as well, just because she can’t do much with only Fire Blast, but there isn’t really anyone else suitable except for Anna, and then I’d kinda feel like I was just replacing a Girafarig with another Girafarig.  I think I’m going to stick with Andi for now; she’s earned her place.

I think it’s okay now if I just… chill here for a bit?  The wild Pokémon are all over level 40 here and it would be nice if my team were… at least not worse than that.

Yeah, this’ll do.

…you do you, buddy.

(Still better than Unown, right…?)

We’ve reached Sunyshore City – but a mysterious stranger approaches!

The Elite Four’s Fire-type master, Flint, is Sunyshore gym leader Volkner’s hetero-platonic life partner, and is worried that Volkner has lost his enthusiasm for Pokémon training after having no decent challengers for too long (especially since Sunyshore City has had fewer visitors during the blackout that kept us from coming here sooner).  Volkner is moping in the city’s lighthouse, so Flint wants us to go get him and kick the crap out of him so he’ll liven up a bit.

Which, I mean, I would’ve happily done anyway, so sure.

Sunyshore City’s main distinguishing feature is its solar panel highways, which take advantage of its consistently sunny weather to power the city.  Roads paved with delicate solar panels always seemed like a weird, expensive and generally bad idea to me, even in the Pokémon world where cars seem to be relatively uncommon in most regions, but apparently this is a thing that a few real-world places have at least tried.

Sunyshore City is apparently Cyrus’ hometown, and some of the older residents give us this little humanising portrait of him as a child: this lonely, brilliant, probably neurodivergent kid who just didn’t “get” people.  People never “got” him either, I guess.

The comment about Team Galactic never hitting Sunyshore City could be incidental – as far as this guy knows, that’s just a plain statement of fact with no deeper meaning, and he doesn’t know that Cyrus went on to become Team Galactic’s leader (hardly anyone would; Cyrus doesn’t exactly advertise his position).  But the game designers put these two people and these lines next to each other in the same house, so maybe there’s more to it.  It’s possible this line is implying that Cyrus deliberately spared his hometown from any Team Galactic operations – one last shred of sentimentality from the man who despised all emotion.

Oh, Jasmine is here too, partly to be a callback to the last time we met a gym leader hiding in a lighthouse and refusing challengers, partly to let us know that we can’t travel much further north from Sunyshore City – even if we could climb the waterfalls to reach the Pokémon League, which we can’t without the Beacon Badge, we’ll be turned away at the door.  Mostly, though, she’s here to hype people up for the upcoming Heart Gold and Soul Silver.

Getting Volkner back to the gym is pretty trivial; when he hears he has a new challenger, he decides that this fight will determine whether he stays here as a gym leader or leaves to challenge the Elite Four.  The lighthouse even has an elevator, so we don’t have to walk to the top.

I dunno, do we ship these two?  I genuinely kinda like them as best friends but I could see this as a romantic thing.  Or like a friends-with-benefits situation or something, the world is our oyster here.

Apparently Volkner has been, uh… redecorating, in order to pass the time waiting for stronger challengers.

Lime green and chartreuse… not sure whether this says he can’t possibly be gay, or confirms that he definitely is…

Anyway, the gimmick of the Sunyshore Gym is these rotating gear platforms that you have to spin around to link up the walkways correctly.

Like so.

Well, we’re in a gym and that’s a new area, so let’s draw a card and see what happens.

Three – Me: You may catch the first wild Pokémon you see in this area.

Now, that’s just boring.  Oh well; I guess the rules remain the same for now.

y’know what, “hardcore” was not the first word to pop into my head but I’m not going to argue.

I’ve spent even more money boosting Andi’s special attack since the start of this episode and honestly her Fire Blast isn’t terrible against level-appropriate enemies, but 5 PP is… not a lot to work with.  Maybe I should drop some PP Ups on it.  The only other obvious path forward is if I draw a Page; then I could teach her Focus Blast or Hyper Beam (there is, unfortunately, no way for Golem to get Earth Power without access to the move tutors of later gen IV games).

Like many of the other gyms in Sinnoh (and, famously, like Flint of the Elite Four), the Sunyshore Gym has to explore a bit outside its specialty in order to fill the ranks, since there just aren’t all that many Electric-types in pre-national ‘dex Diamond and Pearl – I think it might be just Luxray and Raichu.  Volkner himself has an Ambipom and a Charge Beam Octillery, which I actually quite like because Octillery’s focus on beam attacks evokes the Sunyshore lighthouse.

The final room’s puzzle, with bridges that are raised or lowered by the gears and different-coloured buttons that rotate the gears by different amounts, actually gets pretty complicated for a gym puzzle.

Karpe Doom can’t do much in this gym, but a gimmicky Thunder Fang Steelix against a regular old Gyarados?  That sounds good to me.

Here we go!  This’ll be easy, right?  No way this guy’s tougher than Cyrus, and we’re much less terrible than we were on Mount Coronet.  How strong is he, anyway?

Level what now?

…eh, we’ll be fine.

I am approximately 92% certain this guy is in a boy band.

Raichu can learn physical Fighting attacks, but I don’t think Volkner’s has one.  It might have Light Screen, which would slow things down a lot, but there’s still no reason Du Fromage shouldn’t be able to handle this.

A little opening salvo…

I STAND CORRECTED, SWITCHING OUT NOW

I have to admit, Raichu got really unlucky there; it failed two confusion rolls in a row.

Lucario vs. Ambipom should be practically a gift, even with the level difference.

Turns out hyper potions are just a waste when you’re in this kind of position.  Ambipom gets one more turn, but just uses Agility.  I think Volkner’s Ambipom is a Baton Passer, which is an unusually sophisticated tactic for an AI trainer, but Agility was way too greedy here, and the Nasty Plot angle doesn’t make a lot of sense when Volkner’s star Pokémon is a Luxray (although I suppose there is a flexibility benefit in being able to use Agility for Luxray or Nasty Plot for Octillery…).

Roserade has iffy physical defence and this Luxray probably knows Crunch, but I’m still not particularly worried.

Okay, so it turns out Luxray’s physical attacks are really strong, but Leech Seed is also very good when both Pokémon are flailing around trying to fight through paralysis.  Ser Loras is also faster and gets a lot of healing from Giga Drain.

The fight goes to Luxray, but just to prove how close it was, I’m going to finish this fight with a powerful high-level Electric-type using a Gyarados.

Du Fromage is probably faster than Octillery (thanks to the Natural Cure ability, Raichu’s Thunder Wave doesn’t stick), so I reckon I can open with Softboiled and then basically ignore anything it tries to do to me; it’ll be all special attacks for sure.

Then we can use Sweet Kiss for some disruption and chip damage, heal the rest of the way with Softboiled, and finally…

Oh, you do have a physical attack!  It’s the worst one in the book, but I guess it’s not nothing (Bullet Seed gets buffed in generation V, but right now its base power is a measly 10).

Even with five Bullet Seed hits and a crit, Octillery can’t keep up with Du Fromage’s Softboiled healing.

And Volkner makes eight!

Wait, hang on.

Much better (the Sinnoh badge case has a fun little detail where your badges fade and get grimy over time, but you can polish them with the touchscreen stylus to make them sparkle).

That means it’s time to head north.  Jasmine has a little gift for us to help out:

I don’t like putting both Surf and Waterfall on Karpe Doom, but since we’re now into the 40s ourselves we’ve more or less outlasted the usefulness of Dragon Rage, which from this point on is strictly worse than Nightshade or Seismic Toss, so I suppose I might as well.  The only thing left on Gyarados’ level-up list that’s worth having is Dragon Dance.

Onward to the Pokémon League!

Eight – Mate: Box the Pokémon in your current party that has been with you the longest over the course of the game (this may be a judgement call).  You cannot use that Pokémon again unless another card revokes this rule.

Oh, come on; again?  Ah, well; it’s not like Andi was going to get any better at using Fire Blast…

I think now we do bring out Anna; she’s already level 32 and should catch up without too much trouble.  She already knows Shadow Ball and will pick up Psychic soon, so special attacks are no problem.

Fun thing about this route: it has high-level wild Pelipper, which, because of the way wild Pokémon take moves from their level-up lists, have no damaging moves except for Spit Up and (for the ones that are at least level 43) Fling.  Fling always fails if the user isn’t holding an item, which wild Pelipper never do.  Spit Up always fails if the user hasn’t previously used Stockpile, and the wild Pokémon AI is chronically incapable of sequencing those moves correctly.  These are high-level, evolved wild Pokémon that basically cannot fight, making them some of the easiest experience sources around.  So let’s take advantage of that…

There.  Anyone want to take bets on how many of them will still be in my team when I hit the Elite Four?

Speaking of the Elite Four…

Here we are: Victory Road.  Sinnoh’s Victory Road is huge, with three floors, so I think I’m going to draw three cards for it.  Tackling the road is a project for next time, but we may as well draw that first card now and see what happens…

Oh hey; perfect timing.

Ten – Rule Card: An observer to the game may revoke any or all of the rules currently affecting you, and either make up a new rule or change an existing one.  If no observers are available, you may revoke a single rule.

A reminder once again: the observers?  That’s you.  In fact, if there are no comments on this post yet, that’s YOU SPECIFICALLY.  Hi!  Here’s what you get to do:

Take any number of cards off the board, or none of them.

AND

Make up a new rule, or modify the terms of an existing one (but not both).

And this is what we’re working with right now – not much change from the start of the episode, except that Otto and Andi have been banned.

Do your worst.

18 thoughts on “Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 24

          1. I think if you want to force me to use Effie, you do have to get rid of the card that says I’m not allowed to use Effie. “You can’t use this Pokémon” usually trumps “you must use this Pokémon” in the case of cards like Justice, and even if it *didn’t* in this case, the Major Arcana trumps the Minor. At the very least, I have room to interpret the clash in my own favour as long as the Tower is in play.

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      1. I don’t *think* you can do that? I mean, if you *could*, then there’d be no reason not to do that for every custom rule. I don’t think the card can… make its own rule more powerful than itself, if you see what I mean. But on the other hand, maybe disallowing “meta” components like that closes off interesting creative space. Hmm. I’ll have to think about this and write some fuller guidelines into the next version of the rules.

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  1. Your party may never have two Pokemon that are at the same level. At the end of any battle or encounter, if two Pokemon have the same level, you must box them both. If at any time, this should leave you with no usable Pokemon, you may add to your party your lowest-level Pokemon.

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    1. *if two or more Pokemon have the same level, you must box them both/all. (I figured this might be more interesting at the beginning of a run than the end, when it’s easier to keep your mons from levelling up “unexpectedly”, but, like, wynaut?)

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  2. Haha, I’ve definitely been thinking of some ideas for 10s I never got to use (so far??). One that wouldn’t work now but could’ve been interesting if it was implemented early on that I was thinking of was that, if you ever do a double battle with a partner, like Cheryl or Riley, you’d have to KO your ally’s pokemon before attacking your actual enemies. Sinnoh probably has the most of those sorts of battles in the series, so it might not work anywhere else but here too. Ah well!

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  3. Hey, those badges haven’t been fully shined up yet. You can get four sparkles if you keep going.

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