Last time, I had just drawn the Ten of Pentacles, which lets one of my readers make up a new rule and get rid of some existing ones. The lucky first person on the scene was jeffthelinguist, who offered the following:
(Also, for the record, here is my Facebook chat log with Jim the Editor from just after I drafted the previous episode)
Well, wiping the Eight of Wands is straightforward, although if I have to make room in my party for Effie, Andi’s probably not coming back – not while the Magician is in play, anyway, and there’s not enough areas left in the game to fill up all my Major Arcana slots and kick the Magician off the board. I’d probably have to draw the World or something.
Effie is a bit more complicated, because I still have the Tower in play, and that card says I can’t use Effie (or any of the other Pokémon who were in my party when I drew it). In principle, the existing cards that say you must use a Pokémon (Justice and the Devil) allow other rules to take precedence over them, and even if this Ten of Pentacles rule didn’t do that, the Major Arcana trumps the Minor, so at the very least there would be room for me to interpret that contradiction in my own favour. So there was some subsequent discussion: when you draw a Ten, can your observer write their new rule with clauses like “this takes precedence over X?” And I’m… not sure? I’m sort of reluctant to allow the Tens to override the way other rules function like that, because I don’t want it to be legal for someone to say something like “this run is an ordinary Nuzlocke now; this rule takes precedence over everything else and can’t be revoked.” But on the other hand, I also don’t want to wall off creative space for saying things like “while this is in play, other rules can’t be revoked” or similarly messing with the structure of the game in ways that are in line with its basic spirit. I need to think about that one some more, for when I write the revised rules at the end of this run.
Anyway, the actual result of all this was that we decided to just wipe the Tower as well, because a Ten does let you remove as many existing rules as you like, so we’re welcoming back not just Effie, but the rest of their party: King Louie, Brighteyes, Tiktok, Smeagull and Jerry. That means the state of the rule board is now this:
As for my party… well, number one, I have to use Effie again (press F to pay respects). Number two, the rest of that old party is back, but I still can’t evolve Pokémon or use physical attacks. Under those conditions, are any of them better than what I’m working with? Well… maybe? Karpe Doom is struggling a bit with no physical attacks, and Smeagull might actually be a better choice; Pelipper doesn’t have a lot going for it, but it does have a much better special attack stat than Gyarados. Honestly, Trixie the Gastrodon might be a still better choice in the long run, but she’s a much lower level. Madame Malheur is also starting to fall behind a bit, since she can’t evolve into Gengar with the Hanged Man in play, but I’m not sure there’s an obvious better alternative. King Louie’s only special attack is Grass Knot, and Tiktok’s is Hyper Beam.
The other consideration, of course, is that I still need several HMs to get through Victory Road – definitely Strength and Surf, possibly Rock Smash, Rock Climb and Waterfall. It might even be good to bring Andi along just as someone who can fit in some extra HM moves.
Okay, we’re gonna do this for now and see how things go. It’s fine if I can’t get through Victory Road all in one burst.
Is the optimal play to just… let Effie faint and then act as if I have a party of 5? Probably??? But it’s not really in the spirit of the rule.
…on the other hand, it’s not as if I really need to “let” Effie faint, in the sense that they somehow wouldn’t faint if I just played normally.
I mean, I’ll give it a shot, just, y’know… no promises.
At least caves have a lot of wild Pokémon that are weak to Ice attacks.
(for the record, immediately after I took this screenshot, that Graveler one-shot Effie with Double Edge, but the point is that that doesn’t necessarily happen every time)
Okay, it looks like I do in fact need Rock Climb to get past even the very beginning of Victory Road, so I think I’m giving that to Moon Moon.
so it turns out that fighting a Blissey when you’re only allowed to use special attacks is one of the most miserable things you can do in this game
The upper level of Victory Road is a new area, so we’re drawing a new card (also, it looks like either Anna or Moon Moon is picking up Rock Smash – probably Anna, since Lucario learns Dragon Pulse at level 47 and I want to keep Moon Moon’s slots open for that).
Page – Never Have I Ever: Teach all of your current party Pokémon a new move from a TM (if possible, this must be a move that Pokémon has never known in the past). If some of your Pokémon can’t learn any new moves from the TMs you have, do as many as you can.
Huh. Speaking of learning new moves…
- Effie, as usual, gets nothing because Unown is not allowed nice things.
- Ser Loras can have Sludge Bomb (I was thinking about Sunny Day, and then visiting the Heart Scale move tutor in Pastoria City to get Weather Ball for a strong Fire attack, but that plan is only great if we can rely on another Page later to get him Solarbeam as well, and there aren’t really enough draws left in the game).
- Madame Malheur can have Thunderbolt.
- Smeagull can have Ice Beam; it’s a bit boring but it’s more efficient than Blizzard.
- I think I’m going to satisfy the Page’s requirement for Anna by giving her Strength and Rock Smash, since I was going to have to do that anyway.
- And Moon Moon… probably just gets some filler that I’ll overwrite with Dragon Pulse soon anyway? Unless there’s something better; is Psychic better than Dragon Pulse on Lucario? Probably a little bit, but I might still want my Psychic TM for something else. I think I’ll just give her Protect.
Imagine if Unown could always learn any attack with their letter in the name – or even just any attack that started with their letter. Flamethrower, Focus Blast, Fly, Flash Cannon, Fissure… I mean, it’d never work because the poor translators would all throw a fit. Maybe it would have to go by the language of the game the Unown was caught on, so a French Unown-F and a German Unown-F would have different movepools. Japanese or Chinese Unown could go by the romaji and pinyin transcriptions of the attack names.
I mean, it would be monumentally impractical and of course Unown would still suck, but just… ✨ imagine ✨.
This isn’t even funny anymore; it’s just kinda sad. I guess in theory if Effie has to stay at the front of my party they will eventually be a higher level than everyone else. I dunno if that will ever make them good, but we can hope, right?
Okay, okay; a $#!tty Pokémon that’s weak to Ice attacks; maybe this one-
What about this one? That’s a double weakness to Ice, right there.
…well, it was nice of the Torterra to play along for a couple of turns, right?
…oh, fµ¢£, no.
Returning to the first floor of Victory Road probably doesn’t call for another card.
I’m… I’m just going to leave that right there and let it speak for itself.
Now we’re into Victory Road’s lower level – and that does call for a new card draw, the third and last for Victory Road.
Six – Chicks: You cannot use your male Pokémon (unless you have no female or genderless Pokémon). This rule is overwritten by drawing a Five/Guys, and ends if you draw another Six. You may catch the first female wild Pokémon you see in this area.
Hmm. Well, that’s it for Ser Loras and Smeagull. Rather than turn back and rearrange my party now, I think I’ll just press on with an effective party of four, get to the end of Victory Road and figure out where I stand once I’m at the Pokémon League. And as for the first female Pokémon I see…
Well, I would have preferred something that was decent with special attacks and could serve as a replacement for one of the Pokémon I have to box, but I guess a level 45 Floatzel’s not nothing.
Meme vs. meme; let’s do this.
Oh. Uh. I guess I haven’t been paying attention to the PP of Effie’s single solitary move. Ah, it’s fine; Struggle’s a good attack, right?
PRESS F TO PAY RESPECTS
Hmm. Okay, maybe I do have to turn back after all. Pelipper can’t learn Waterfall; I need to find someone who can. Good thing I have all these escape ropes I’ve collected over the course of the game and never used…
Okay… let’s see… bearing in mind that we have a hard restriction to female Pokémon, and a soft restriction to fully evolved Pokémon that are good with special attacks… the obvious long-term choices – the ones it makes sense to bring into the Elite Four challenge – are Du Fromage and Trixie. Trixie’s only level 29, but we can work on that. Waterfall is a bit of a wasted slot on her, but there’s not really anything else on her level-up list that’s worth having until Recover at level 54; we can always delete Waterfall later. Or I could just take Ermine Jean with me to get through Victory Road; assuming I’m still stuck using only special attacks when I go into the Elite Four, she won’t be much use there (Surf will be her only move, and Floatzel’s special attack stat is merely decent), but she can get me up those waterfalls quick enough. Saraneth, the Bronzong, is theoretically an option, but they have an adamant nature, I’d have to use a Psychic TM on them… probably not great. Alexolotl would be a decent choice, I suppose; she’d have a weaker special attack stat than Trixie but she does have Blizzard, and I could fly back to Pastoria City for her to remember Mud Bomb. And I guess if all else fails there’s always Andi with her legendary Fire Blast.
I think for now I’ll take Du Fromage and Jean, then revisit this at the end of Victory Road.
Now. Where were we?
Okay, this one you can do, surely? It’s not even fully evolved; Gabite’s defences aren’t that good.
We must be almost there, right?
There’s a fourth section of Victory Road through the eastern tunnels, but it’s only accessible once you’ve already become the Champion of Sinnoh.
And Effie is indeed starting to look… well, not useful exactly, but less likely to die immediately upon exposure to any Pokémon belonging to any member of the Elite Four.
GAHH bird jesus, Barriam, where the fµ¢£ did you come from
I, uh… neglected to heal my Pokémon before going to speak to the door guard. This is going to be… interesting.
…y’know what, I’m not even going to pretend Effie has a chance of winning this fight; I’m just gonna use this turn to heal Anna.
…with… my last remaining Moomoo Milk, because keeping Effie alive in Victory Road is a close second, next to winning a Porygon in the Celadon Game Corner, for the most expensive thing I’ve ever done in a Pokémon game.
I think this would be a good time for Ermine Jean to make her debut…
Oh, COME ON
Do I have anyone who can take advantage of sunlight? Not… really?
More to the point, did the designer who did Barriam’s team composition have the foresight to build his Roserade to take advantage of sunlight?
They did, however, have the foresight to give it Grasswhistle, a move with 40% accuracy when used by the player and 70% when used by the AI.
I am so done with your $#!t, Barriam.
Okay, I don’t have any “healing” as such, but I still have some revives… Anna should be faster than his Heracross, right?
The answer to my question is no (Heracross is surprisingly fast). However, that Confuse Ray is still paying dividends.
Uh… you sure that’s a switch you want to make, buddy?
I don’t think Anna can win this, and I doubt Du Fromage can either, but if I revive Moon Moon we might be okay…
For some reason I don’t think his Staraptor knows Close Combat, which honestly I think is an iffy decision on his part, but whatever.
Right, uh… where was I?
Well. Here we are.
Unfortunately it isn’t really practical to draw a card for each Elite Four member, since we can’t go back and change our party after each battle, so the next card I draw will be the last one of the run. Beyond this point, the rules we have are the rules we’ve got. I’ll draw that last card, review my team options (if nothing changes I think I’m going to go with Alex over Trixie and Jean), train and then next time, we’re challenging the Elite Four! Here goes nothing…
The Hierophant: You may only heal at a Pokémon Centre once after clearing each new area. You can withdraw “fresh” Pokémon from PC storage, but any Pokémon that you deposit cannot be withdrawn again until you are next allowed to heal. This rule is overwritten if you draw the High Priestess.
So… remember what I said about “training” before challenging the Elite Four? That’s not going to fly. Nurse Joy’s cutting me off. The only option now is to fling myself at the Elite Four, with Effie at the front of the party each time, and fight until I drop – over and over until we get strong enough to win. It won’t be pretty and I’m not sure how long it will take, but we’ll level up a little bit each time.
And, uh… just to remind you, this is what we’re working with.
Also, as usual, I have no money, and I have no healing because I used all of it patching up Effie after literally every battle in Victory Road.
The first member of the Elite Four, Aaron, has Pokémon that start at level 53. Cynthia’s Garchomp is level 66.
Time to place your bets on how many runs this is going to take!