Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 26

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

We’re probably only a couple more episodes from the end, and the last ones are going to be a little different.  As you might remember, at the end of the last episode I drew the Hierophant going into the Pokémon League, so I only use a Pokémon Centre after finishing a new area… and there are none of those left.  I can’t really train under those conditions.  That being the case, I have no choice but to simply fight the Elite Four over and over until I win, receiving pity-healing each time I lose and coming back slightly stronger.  I don’t really know how long this is going to take.  Previously in this playthrough I’ve been giving fairly detailed summaries of important battles against gym leaders and the like, but I don’t think that’s going to be practical here.  This is going to be more… let’s say, summaries and highlights of each attempt.  Hopefully I’ll have a pretty good sense of when I’m close to beating Cynthia, so I’ll be able to give more of a blow-by-blow for the final battle.

Well… here goes nothing.

Attempt #1

And people say Pokémon has no canonically gay characters.  I mean, come on; look at this kid.  And he describes his Bug Pokémon as “nasty-mean, yet beautiful.”  This is the twink representation we all deserve.

Aaron’s first two Pokémon are a Toxic-Double Team Dustox and a special attacker Beautifly.  Even at level 53, these are no problem for Anna and Du Fromage.  Having to keep Effie at the front of the party is a bit of a drag, but it’s basically fine.

But then there’s the first big stumbling block of this whole enterprise: Heracross.

Heracross is one of the most consistently good Pokémon across generations in the game’s history; it’s never really been bad.  It has a wide selection of powerful physical attacks, is bulky enough to take several hits before going down and is pretty fast for a tank.  Aaron’s can outrun and one-shot both Anna and Madame Malheur with Night Slash.  My saving grace, if there is one, is that it has attacks of four different types – Megahorn, Close Combat, Stone Edge and Night Slash – and doesn’t seem to be very good at picking the best one to use at any given moment.  It took five or six turns to bring down Moon Moon because it never once tried using Close Combat on her (unfortunately Moon Moon wasn’t able to beat it either because Aaron used a full restore on it).

Attempt #2

This time, Heracross made the mistake of opening with Megahorn against Madame Malheur, missed and gave her a chance to hit it with Confuse Ray.  That obviously changed the balance of power significantly, and meant I got to meet Aaron’s strongest Pokémon: Drapion.

Drapion is a hefty physical tank with only one weakness (Ground).  I was thinking it would probably be Alex’s job to deal with this guy once she’s a high enough level, but it turns out Aaron’s Drapion has no attacks that can deal much damage to Moon Moon.  Its own special defence is also not great, so she can bring it down relatively easily, if a bit slowly, with Flash Cannon or Aura Sphere.

Aaron’s final Pokémon is Vespiquen.  I got very lucky dealing with Vespiquen this time, with a string of good rolls on Du Fromage’s Sweet Kiss and the subsequent confusion checks, so it never actually got to use a move, but I don’t expect it will be that easy every time.  Vespiquen can be a nightmare for underlevelled teams like mine because of its ability to heal and protect itself with its Order moves and drain your PP with Pressure.

So attempt #2 records my first victory over Aaron!  Again, I got lucky with both Heracross and Vespiquen, so I don’t know if I can beat him consistently yet, but it’s still good news: experience for my Pokémon, and lots of money to buy healing items for next time (Du Fromage is holding Luck Incense, which doubles my winnings).  On the other hand, Alex (who is holding the Exp. Share) hit level 36 during this battle and had to turn down Earthquake, since we can only use special attacks; that made me sad.

The second member of the Elite Four is Bertha, the Ground-type master.  If Effie’s going to contribute anything at all, it’ll be in this battle, against Pokémon who are weak to Ice attacks.

Unfortunately for Effie, Bertha’s opener is a Quagsire, whose solid special defence and Water/Ground typing make it a task best left to someone else.

For her second Pokémon, Bertha jumps straight to her partner, Hippowdon.  Hippowdon is a terrifying physical tank with an automatic Sandstorm ability, poor special defence and a weakness to Ice.  Time for Effie to show what they can do.

About that much, it turns out.

As reckless as it was given her extremely low level, I decided to try Alex next, but she wasn’t able to survive an Earthquake.  Neither was Anna, but she at least got to fire off a Psychic first, putting Hippowdon in what I thought was reasonable range for Moon Moon’s Aura Sphere, but turned out to be just short.  In the end, after Hippowdon had chewed up three of my Pokémon, Madame Malheur finished the job.

I wasn’t sure whether Bertha’s Whiscash was a physical or special attacker.  I guess now we know.

And unfortunately for Madame Malheur, it seems to have a super-effective attack in store for her.  So ends attempt #2, but we gained a fair bit of experience and a net 7,800 Money for healing items.

Attempt #3

I have learned that, although she resists it, a crit from Heracross’ Megahorn is still enough to one-shot Madame Malheur.  This is not what I would describe as particularly welcome news, as it preceded Heracross sweeping the rest of my team, although Alex put up a surprisingly good fight.

Attempt #4

Mixed results against Aaron.  Heracross usually seems to be extremely unwilling to use Close Combat against Moon Moon, possibly because the AI is aware of the move’s defence penalties, and this seems like something I can use against it (except when I can’t: see attempt #3).  Dustox’s Double Team makes it very unpredictable; sometimes it’s easy to deal with, sometimes it can poison and cripple both Anna and Du Fromage.  Du Fromage’s Flamethrower isn’t reliably powerful enough to knock it out before it uses Toxic and a couple of Double Teams, but Anna is at risk of taking extremely heavy damage from Bug Buzz as I switch from Effie.  Du Fromage’s earlier success against Vespiquen cannot be relied upon, as it more or less one-shots her with Attack Order.

Attempt #5

Confirmed a lot of my earlier assessment of Vespiquen in an extremely gruelling battle that was ultimately won only by Alex freezing it with Blizzard and then breaking through its buffed defences with a critical hit from Surf.  Parties at a remotely appropriate level can deal with it by exploiting its poor speed, terrible type combination and passive playstyle, but if you’re not strong enough to break its defences, it’s just awful.

Decided that the team was in such bad shape afterwards that it wasn’t worth spending the resources to heal them up for Bertha and went into that fight with just Alex.  The battle nonetheless lasted seven or eight turns, as Bertha’s Quagsire preferred maxing out its evasion with Double Team to finishing off Alex.

Attempt #6

Another loss to Vespiquen, though this time only after things had gone quite badly against Drapion.

Attempt #7

Heracross’ massive blind spot for the fact that it can easily one-shot Moon Moon with Close Combat, but struggles to beat her at all with its other moves, continues to be my most perplexing advantage against Aaron.  Once again lost to Vespiquen, this time after it demonstrated an ability to easily brush off the damage from Effie’s super-effective Hidden Power.  Alex is now level 40 and able to perform respectably against Drapion with Mud Shot.

Attempt #8

Decided to try fighting Dustox with Effie, since I have to keep them at the front of the party anyway.  It took minimal damage from Hidden Power and one-shot them with Bug Buzz.  Because Unown is an irretrievably garbage Pokémon that was never meant to be used by anyone.

The fight against Aaron took an odd turn when I lost both Moon Moon and Madame Malheur to Heracross (I am beginning to suspect that Heracross’ strange Close Combat blind spot – for whatever reason – only exists if it has already beaten Madame Malheur; if I open with Moon Moon, Heracross deals with her easily), but managed to beat it with Anna’s Psychic.  Vespiquen cleaned up the rest of my team, but Alex hung on just long enough to beat it, and with some healing was then able to defeat Drapion as well.  Quagsire is an unassuming Pokémon that doesn’t really do any one thing brilliantly, but it’s a solid workhorse tank.  I’m having flashbacks to my Elite Four challenge on my first playthrough of Silver, long ago, when my Quagsire was also instrumental.

I’m not really in a better position heading into Bertha’s room than I was in attempt #5, but I’m feeling bolder from the extra supplies I was able to buy after that run, so I’m going to revive my team and give it a serious try.

To avoid wasting supplies by overhealing, I’m using my hyper potions on Du Fromage and then transferring HP to my other Pokémon with Softboiled.  I still need five revives, but this way I can get the team back to full HP with only three hyper potions instead of six.

Look, I’m on a pretty strict budget here, okay?

The sad thing is, Quagsire doesn’t even have any attacks that can hit Effie.  Like all Unown, their ability is Levitate, and Quagsire’s only source of direct damage is Dig.  But frankly, between Double Team, Quagsire’s high HP and Effie being an Unown, I don’t think they could beat it before it wore them down with Sandstorm damage, or just ran them out of PP for Hidden Power.

Alex has levelled several times since her last encounter with Hippowdon; I don’t know if she can beat it yet, but it seems worth a try.

The answer is no, but Hippowdon can no longer one-shot her with Earthquake, which gives her time to use Yawn.  Whoever comes in next will have a much easier time fighting it.  I’m… tempted to try Effie, but realistically I should capitalise on the opportunity properly with Madame Malheur (Anna unfortunately had all her Psychic PP eaten up by Vespiquen’s Pressure, otherwise I’d give her a try).

Madame Malheur beats Hippowdon, but has lost too much HP from all that sandstorm damage to finish off Whiscash, even with some lucky Confuse Ray rolls.  Du Fromage then gets spectacularly unlucky, missing with her first Hyper Beam and losing the second to a Rock Slide flinch, so it’s Anna who has to finish up.

Sudowoodo is not normally a particularly concerning Pokémon, but as a Rock-type in a sandstorm it gets a special defence bonus, letting it withstand Moon Moon’s Flash Cannon and hit back with Earthquake.  This time Anna isn’t strong enough to finish it off, so it’s all up to Effie…

Attempt #9

A fairly typical loss to Aaron; Heracross sweeps most of my team and Vespiquen cleans up what’s left.  Effie gets a critical hit on Vespiquen; it doesn’t help.

(what do you mean, I didn’t say how #8 ended?  I said it was all up to Effie; that should be all the information you need)

Attempt #10

Alex gets a critical hit on Vespiquen with Blizzard; it does help, because Alex is not an Unown.

My team is extremely ragged and I need some mid-battle revives on Alex and Moon Moon, but I once again make it through to Bertha.

Fighting Bertha’s Quagsire is extremely annoying, because it doesn’t even try to kill you, really; it just uses Sandstorm and waits for you to die while it sits there using Protect and Double Team.  God I wish I had Ser Loras to deal with this.

Alex is not strong enough to beat Hippowdon on raw power.  However, Hippowdon is stupid enough to lose to Alex, if it hits her with Crunch and Stone Edge instead of Earthquake.

Sudowoodo, by contrast, appears to be the most cunning enemy I have faced yet, with the ability to use the correct attack a whopping “most of the time.”

Bertha’s final Pokémon (the last one we’ve met, at any rate; in this particular run she hasn’t used her Whiscash yet, and I don’t think I have enough left to beat it) is a Golem.  We are still in a Sandstorm, so Golem’s normally terrible special defence is being boosted, but Effie’s Hidden Power is super-effective against this one…

…and Golem doesn’t even do that much damage to them with Gyro Ball; this is a real milestone.

Alas, it is not enough.

I will at this stage emphasise that Effie, my highest-level Pokémon, ten attempts into this challenge, has yet to KO a single opponent on either Aaron’s or Bertha’s team.  I’m not sure I ever expect them to, but I suppose we live in hope.

Attempt #11

A lucky crit with Shadow Ball makes this the first time since attempt #2 that I have managed to cleanly defeat Aaron’s Heracross, and Alex’s performance continues to improve against his Drapion.  After Vespiquen forgets that it can easily knock out Du Fromage with Attack Order and tries to bludgeon through her massive special defence with Power Gem instead, we score our first victory over Aaron without any losses!  Some antidotes and a single hyper potion on Du Fromage for Softboiled are all it takes to get the entire team back into fighting shape for Bertha.

Some lucky rolls against Quagsire also bring it down with relatively little pain.

Hippowdon, unfortunately, has remembered that it knows Earthquake and is able to defeat both Alex and Anna.  Its special defence may be bad, but it has a huge HP pool and at level 59 it’s working with a level advantage I haven’t had to overcome since Cyrus.

Madame Malheur gets some lucky confusion rolls and easily beats Whiscash.  When I try to do the same thing to Sudowoodo, it generously helps me out by trying to use Sucker Punch, which fails if the enemy uses a status move.

Sudowoodo was too smart for Moon Moon, but what about Golem?  I have to assume it knows Earthquake, but I don’t think I’ve seen it use that move yet.

Brick Break isn’t exactly a terrible move against Lucario, but if you did have Earthquake, it wasn’t the right move either, Bertha.  I have, in fact, won – and with four of my Pokémon still standing, even!

Unfortunately, Du Fromage didn’t take part in that battle, so I won’t double my prize money, but the winnings are still appreciated.

Still more unfortunately, I have only one hyper potion left, but with a little help from Du Fromage, that’s still enough to patch up almost everyone.

Elite Three out of Four is our friend Flint, the “Fire”-type specialist – but I say “Fire” in scare quotes because there are only two Fire-types in pre-national ‘dex Diamond and Pearl, Rapidash and Infernape.  Flint has to fill out his team with some other distantly thematic Pokémon: Drifblim (full of hot air), Steelix (formed by heat and pressure in the Earth’s mantle) and Lopunny (hawt).

My instinct is to immediately switch in Alex, but if memory serves, this is a SunnyBeam Rapidash, so I think the correct play here is actually to assume the foetal position and make a high-pitched wailing noise.

To Effie’s credit, I was kind of expecting them to die in one hit.  Near-death and paralysed is a great success!  (Also, if the damage on Rapidash seems like a lot for one resisted Hidden Power, you are correct!  That was a crit.)

Hmm.  Interesting.  Maybe it’s only on the Platinum version of his team that it has Solarbeam; I’ll have to look that up.  Or maybe the Rapidash just genuinely thinks Flare Blitz is a good move against Quagsire.

The burn is unfortunate and may have sealed Alex’s fate.  She managed to get Flint to spend a full restore on Rapidash, though, and I’ll count that as a win.

Oh, it does have Solarbeam.  Kind of a dumb moment to use it, though.  Well, I’ll take the win for Anna.

As a Normal-type with Shadow Ball, Anna is generally pretty well-equipped for fighting Ghost Pokémon.

…but it’s a Double Team Drifblim, and bad rolls combined with burn damage from Will’o’Wisp will do anyone in.  To be honest, with three stacks of Double Team it’s probably unbeatable now, but we may as well give it a shot.

Oh.  Okay; you’re evasion-passing.  Kind of a scumbag move for someone who’s so big on the whole “fiery passion” personal style, don’t you think?  Wait, what attacks does your Infernape even know?  Flare Blitz, Close Combat… I want to say Grass Knot and Thunderpunch?  I’m looking this up.  Oh, Mach Punch and Earthquake rather than Close Combat and Grass Knot; okay.  Well, it can easily outrun and murder everything I’ve got left, so let’s get it over with…

No big deal; I’ve got more money than I’ve had since I started this dumb bull$#!t; time to restock the medicine fridge and try again.

Attempt #12

The one nice thing about doing something like this is that, the further I get on a single attempt, the more experience I earn, so there is an exponential element to my progress.  I can now beat Aaron even if I kinda fµ¢£ up (which I did, but we don’t need to talk about that, because I win anyway).

I’ve also figured out I can double-team Bertha’s Quagsire.  Not Double Team the move, but, like, gang up on it.  Dig takes two turns to use, so it’s easy to dodge it by switching to Effie or Madame Malheur, and its only sources of damage are Dig and Sandstorm.  Moon Moon is immune to Sandstorm damage and always has perfect accuracy with Aura Sphere, no matter how many times it uses Double Team.  Not double team, like, ganging up on me, but Double Team the move.  You know what I mean.

Another discovery: Bertha’s Whiscash doesn’t actually seem to have a Ground-type attack.  I mean, maybe it does and it’s just too stupid to use it, but it doesn’t seem to, which makes it very easy for Moon Moon to deal with.

To be honest, I suspect I can get away with quite a lot by just leaning on the fact that Lucario is… well… a really, really good Pokémon.

Most exciting of all, Effie has scored their first KO, against Bertha’s Golem.  I mean, it was already on critical health from fighting Anna, but Effie still had to be faster than a Golem and able to do more than a 1/8 of its HP in damage with a super-effective attack against its weaker defence stat, which is asking a lot from Effie.

I didn’t actually beat Bertha this time, in the end, but I still feel like a lot of progress has been made.

Attempt #13

Lost to Aaron’s Vespiquen; no progress has been made whatsoever; I hate this game.

12 thoughts on “Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 26

  1. You know what now that we’re here I might as well dump as many ideas for a ten rule as I had, and can think of!

    Pick one pokemon in your party, and one pokemon you can’t use (or just not in your party if you currently have no limits) treat each as the other; they are restricted by the other’s gender, nature, generation etc. but not their own anymore. Pokemon unaffected by limits already, such as champions, are inapplicable to be chosen
    Whichever pokemon species you have the most of overall, release all but one of them
    You can only use Pokemon with one type
    You can only keep four Pokemon in your party
    You can’t use the type of the most recent gym leader you just beat
    The next pokemon in your party to faint becomes unusable until you beat the next gym; when you do, it becomes a Champion. If it becomes usable before then, it doesn’t become a Champion
    Draw another card; the card you draw has it’s effect reversed; Chariot would decrease your major arcana limits for instance. May need to use your own judgement on what counts as ‘reversed’ for some of them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eh, fainting only reduces friendship a little, and levelling raises it, as does being in the party during an Elite Four challenge. It’s actually really difficult to lower friendship while doing anything that resembles normal play.

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  2. So you’re (eventually) killing the Garchomp with Effie, right? It’s one of the most notoriously powerful enemy Pokemon in the series, Effie just so happens to have a 4x super effective attack…the underdog story writes itself!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love how often you mention Effie and their inability to competently perform even the most menial of tasks you attempt. I’m sure these runs are incredibly tedious on your end but your writing remains top notch.

    To be honest, I think the “special move only” restriction has made this harder than even Effie’s existence, your move pools are so limited at this point.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Magician *is* painful, but honestly Alex and Anna are the only Pokémon I desperately want physical attacks on, and Alex is honestly pretty good even with just special attacks, so it’s not *that* bad. Then again, without that restriction I’d be able to use Andi, who is a god among Pokémon, so maybe I’m not giving it enough credit. The general overarching rule that I can only use TMs when a card tells me to is pretty bad at the moment, too. I would have loved to be able to put Psychic on Madame Malheur, or Toxic on Du Fromage (then again, I suppose Sweet Kiss has its moments).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “I am beginning to suspect that Heracross’ strange Close Combat blind spot – for whatever reason – only exists if it has already beaten Madame Malheur”
    That’s potentially really clever and terrifying; he knows you know that he can one-shot you, and expects you to switch into something that’s immune to that move while double-resisting his other STAB.

    “Lopunny (hawt)”
    A reminder for the rest of you that Chris is gay. This is relevant because the standard conventions of in-game enemy trainers mean that we’re talking about a male Lopunny. In a guaranteed fight. In its debut generation. If enemy trainers regularly nicknamed their Pokémon you can be damned sure they’d have named it Bridget.

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    1. I don’t think it *is* clever, actually. If Madame Malheur is *still up*, *then* it seems happy to one-shot Moon Moon with Close Combat. If it’s already knocked her out, *then* it fµ¢£s around using Stone Edge and Night Slash (moves that would be really good against a Haunter switch-in, if only I still had my Haunter) against a Lucario for some reason. If it were the other way around, that might suggest the AI was doing some really interesting tactical thinking. As is, I think it’s just an idiot.

      (I also genuinely have no idea what the second half of this comment is saying)

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  5. Well, at least this E4 is one of the cooler ones, so that’s a silver lining to this debacle! All four of the trainers look quite stylish, and their teams as well. (In DP specifically, Platinum is not as fashionable.)

    Liked by 1 person

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