Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 27

…you all know the drill, let’s bash our faces against the Elite Four another thirteen times.

Attempt #14

Beat Aaron pretty routinely.  One concern I have is that I’m still usually beating his Vespiquen at the cost of a lot of PP from Du Fromage’s Flamethrower, which I might need later on to beat Lucian’s Bronzong.  But we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

I was about to write that fighting Bertha feels a lot better now that I have a strategy for dealing efficiently with her Quagsire (and one that actually gives Effie something to do, even if it is just switching in and out to intercept digs, and even if it is something Madame Malheur could do just as well), but then her Hippowdon got a crit with Earthquake and one-shot Alexolotl, so no, this still sucks.

And it turns out Whiscash does have a way to deal with Moon Moon, even if it is kind of a janky one – it knows Fissure.

On the plus side, Effie got their second ever KO against an Elite Four Pokémon, against Hippowdon.  I mean, again, similar situation to last time, it was already critically injured, but we’ve gotta take what we can get.

Also, Alex has reached level 49 and fully caught up with everyone else, so I’ll no longer be using the Exp. Share to divert experience to her.  My other party members should start growing faster from this point.

Attempt #15

Reasonably clean win against Aaron, but I’m still not feeling great about Vespiquen.  If it manages to use Defend Order once or twice I just have no good answer to it that doesn’t involve burning about 20 PP.  Madame Malheur’s Thunderbolt is decent, but Heracross has usually knocked her out already by that point in the battle – and as previously mentioned, if Madame Malheur is still alive, Heracross seems more likely to remember that it knows Close Combat and can easily one-shot Moon Moon.

I have no idea if this logic bears any resemblance to the way the AI actually works, but its actions seem so random that I have basically no choice but to construct a bunch of weird superstitions around it.

And a fairly clean win against Bertha, too, off the back of a few things: having a strategy for Quagsire, Moon Moon now being strong enough not to drop in one hit to Sudowoodo’s Earthquake, and most importantly, giving Alex some mid-battle healing after dealing with Hippowdon.  Her Surf is really strong against Golem, and she can deal pretty well with Whiscash too, since it’s not smart enough to avoid using Aqua Tail against her (which heals her thanks to Water Absorb).

In principle, I think switching to Alex is the right move against Flint’s Rapidash, because it does have to telegraph its Solarbeams one way or another, whether that’s by using Sunny Day or by charging normally.  After that I can theoretically switch to Madame Malheur, who takes relatively little damage from Solarbeam.

…and then back to Alex when it uses Bounce…

I think Mud Shot ought to be good in theory if we’re doing this switch dance bull$#!t, because it can reduce Rapidash’s speed and give my other Pokémon a chance to outrun it.  Of course, if it misses, we just hate ourselves and move on, and have to switch again because it’s charging a Solarbeam.

I was kinda thinking that just getting Rapidash to hit Du Fromage with Flare Blitz might be a decent move, because Du Fromage’s HP pool is so massive and the recoil damage is crippling.  I think if our levels were higher Du Fromage would actually survive it, but as is… eh, at least it weakens Rapidash enough for Alex to finish it with Surf.

…is there any way Destiny Bond is correct here…?  Surely not, right?  I mean, Dark Pulse is a pretty bad coverage move on a Ghost-type because it has so much overlap with Shadow Ball, but I think in a long, gruelling challenge like the Elite Four, the extra PP has to be worth more than occasionally being able to kill something with Destiny Bond if the stars align.

I’m gonna be honest, I have no idea how I’m gonna deal with this piece of $#!t.  Alex can probably do it when she hits a higher level, since it doesn’t have Grass Knot, but for now I may just have to accept that Infernape is Infernape.

Anna can survive one hit from anything except Flare Blitz, and in principle could knock Infernape out with a crit from Psychic, but I dunno if that’s worth banking on.

And now Flint uses a full restore, and Alex just smacks it again for more than 50%… I really cannot emphasise enough how much Quagsire is just a solid, decent, not-$#!t Pokémon that is not an Unown.

I dunno why Infernape went with Mach Punch here when it could have outrun us with Earthquake anyway, but I’m not going to question it.

The great thing about Steelix is that Steelix has terrible special defence.  One or two more levels, and Moon Moon will be able to one-shot it, and if it would rather use Sunny Day than fight back, that’s fine by me.

Hey, Drifblim, if you want to pass your Double Teams to a Pokémon that I can use Aura Sphere on, once again – it’s fine by me.

So, something hilarious about Flint’s Lopunny is that when it sees Effie, it thinks “ooh, a special attacker – I should use Mirror Coat.”  Which means that Lopunny actually absorbs the $#!ttiness of Effie’s Hidden Power into itself and does hardly any counter damage.

Drifblim, similarly, is fundamentally unable to grasp the cosmic scale of how $#!tty Effie is, and uses Will’o’Wisp rather than just immediately murdering them with Ominous Wind.

But all good things must come to an end.

Still, that was a solid run.  I feel like I’m not that far from beating Flint.

Attempt #16

You wanna know something?  I don’t even think Pokémon are real.  I think they were made up by the Japanese to inflate the stock price of Toyota.  I mean, have you ever seen a Pokémon in real life, outside of a Japanese restaurant, or a backstreet motel, or a small rural pub in Austria?  You could fake most of that with, like, animatronics, holograms, claymation, swamp gas, maybe a flip book and some mirrors.  Pokéballs don’t even do anything; you open one up with a screwdriver and inside it’s all just coloured string, chewing gum and bits of broken espresso machines.  Don’t you think it’s a little weird that no one seems to have known anything about Pokémon before the 1960s, except for the Welsh?  And where the fµ¢£ is Kantō?  None of these regions are even real places!  Yeah, you bet I just blew your mind there.  We’re gonna bust this whole conspiracy open, you and me, soon as I figure out how they keep getting more of the damn things when they don’t even exist.

Oh yeah, I beat Flint this time; here’s this other guy.

I feel like switching to Anna is a good opening in principle, but that fµ¢£ing Double Team Drifblim ate almost all of Anna’s Shadow Ball PP in the last fight… eh, whatever, let’s give it a go.

Lucian’s Mr. Mime is a double screens build, so it just casts Light Screen and takes fµ¢£-all damage from Shadow Ball.  Then, to add insult to injury, he just swaps in his own Girafarig to harmlessly absorb my last Shadow Ball PP.  I genuinely have no idea who’s gonna be good here, I’m just gonna give Alex a go…

Spoiler: Alex is not good here.  She did get a Yawn off, though.  That leaves a pretty good opening for Moon Moon to come in and clean up.

Of all the Pokémon on Lucian’s team, I feel like Medicham is theoretically the best one to use Madame Malheur against… still not exactly optimistic, though.

Optimism rapidly fading.

Ah, screw it, see what you can do, Effie.

You know what, that’s an amount of damage greater than zero.  Good job, Effie.

Pure Power Medicham’s attacks are just ungodly strong; I dunno if there’s much we can do about that until we level up a bit more.

Attempt #17

I think there is a vicious (virtuous?  Not sure in this case) cycle happening here, where Moon Moon and Alex, as a result of actually being good Pokémon, do more of the work than the others and therefore wind up levelling faster – which makes them stronger, so I end up leaning on them even more.

I think I can actually beat Bertha pretty consistently now if I just let Alex and Moon Moon do most of the work. Aaron’s Heracross and Vespiquen are still very unpredictable, though, and whenever anything goes wrong with Vespiquen I have to waste a bunch of PP fixing it.

Flint’s Infernape remains fully capable of sweeping my team if it doesn’t fµ¢£ up and do something stupid – after all, it’s an Infernape; that’s what they do.

Attempt #18

Maybe the right play is actually to just focus on making Alex and Moon Moon really strong?  That’s what’s happening anyway, and they seem like the best Pokémon to use for almost everything on Bertha and Flint’s teams.

Made it to Lucian again this time, and because he seems to like switching a lot more than his colleagues, I got to meet his Bronzong.  For some reason it’s a Calm Mind Bronzong, despite two of its three attacks being physical (Gyro Ball, Earthquake, Psychic).  That does make it an absolute nightmare for my team in particular, though: I can only use special attacks and Bronzong is already very tough with almost no weaknesses.  Du Fromage’s Flamethrower is decent at first, but only until it starts using Calm Mind, and it can hit back with Earthquake.

Attempt #19

This one doesn’t even count.

Attempt #20

I mean, the good news is that I have plenty of revives and hyper potions now.  Beating both Aaron and Bertha makes me enough money to buy more than I need to use healing my team after each fight.

Madame Malheur’s Thunderbolt is definitely my most efficient answer to Aaron’s Vespiquen; the trouble is that Madame Malheur isn’t reliably still in the fight after Heracross.  May need to get used to administering mid-battle revives while Alex is dealing with Drapion.

The main risk with Bertha now is that Hippowdon can still beat Alex if it uses Earthquake twice instead of fµ¢£ing about with Crunch or Stone Edge.  Most of my other Pokémon have very bad physical defence, so her team can knock them about pretty hard.

I personally resent the fact that every member of the Elite Four has a team member designed to sometimes – and only sometimes – be a massive PP sink that takes half an hour to actually kill.  For Aaron, it’s Vespiquen.  For Bertha, it’s Quagsire.  For Flint, it’s Drifblim.  For Lucian, it’s Mr. Mime.  Even with Reflect, Mr. Mime isn’t usually that hard to beat with physical attacks thanks to its poor physical defence and garbage HP stats – but, of course, I don’t have any of those.  Its special defence is sky-high, and if it gets a Light Screen up – which it always does, because I’m supposed to keep Effie at the front of my party and I have to spend turn 1 switching – it’s extremely hard to bring down, even with super-effective Shadow Balls.

Lucian’s Girafarig seems to favour physical attacks like Double Hit, which means that Alex can theoretically tank against it pretty well, but she needs healing whenever it decides to use Psychic.  Fortunately Lucian’s Girafarig has the Inner Focus ability rather than Early Bird, which means Alex can still get good value against it out of Yawn.

Alakazam is Lucian’s other heavy hitter aside from Medicham, but it only uses special attacks.  Du Fromage can survive even a crit from Focus Blast.  Her own offensive potential is pretty limited, but Hyper Beam still does respectable damage, and Sweet Kiss adds just enough to push us over the line.

Medicham is just really good, I dunno what to tell you.  I think this is just another Pokémon where I need Alex’s solid physical defence to not instantly die.

Seriously, Bronzong is just awful.  That’s pre-Calm Mind, too; its special defence only goes up from here.

Attempt #21

I’m gonna fly to Veilstone City and sell a bunch of old TMs and $#!t so I can buy a truckload of calcium tablets to make Anna and Alex’s special attacks a bit better (I’ve already raised Du Fromage’s as much as I can; that careful nature is really a killer).  The Hierophant has a clause about when you’re allowed to withdraw and deposit Pokémon from your PC, but… look, no one’s fighting and no one’s getting any extra healing out of it, so I think it’s fine.

Hmm…

Hey, Marge!  MARGE!  D’you mind if I pawn this ancient mystical artefact that embodies your power over the spatial dimensions?

Great, thanks Marge, you’re a real stand-up gal!

Oh, don’t give me that look; it’s the end of the game.  The team I’ve got now is all that matters.

I think I can pretty reliably beat Flint now, which suggests I can’t be too far off from overcoming Lucian.

I mean, not this time, but maybe another two or three attempts down the road.

Also, an Effie update, since I know they’re the only thing you bastards care about: Effie is occasionally useful.  They can finish off an already injured Pokémon that is weak against Ice attacks.  Sometimes, against a particularly stupid Pokémon that has several non-damaging moves, they can knock off over 50% of its HP.  They have yet to defeat anything one-on-one without help, but the day is surely coming.  Having to keep them at the front of my party remains a serious liability that damages my performance against every member of the Elite Four except for Bertha.

Attempt #22

I fµ¢£ing hate that Heracross.

Attempt #23

I also fµ¢£ing hate that Dustox.  Even if things go really badly it can’t actually end a run, because it’s a Dustox, but since it always gets its first turn free as I switch Effie out to someone who can actually fight, it always gets a free turn to set up Double Team or Light Screen.  Most of the time it’s easy, but if it manages to use Double Team multiple times, none of my attacks will ever hit it again and it can chew through 10 or 20 PP easily.  It’s no good just trying to fight it with Effie; then it easily gets multiple Double Teams and murders them with Bug Buzz.

For some reason, Bertha seems to keep a second full restore in reserve just for her Whiscash.  If she uses the first one on Quagsire, she won’t have anything to heal Hippowdon, but she always has healing for Whiscash.  I have no idea why.

Sudowoodo, also for reasons known only to the grander cosmos, continues to be the most intelligent Pokémon in the Elite Four.  Almost every other Pokémon can be relied upon to sometimes fµ¢£ up and use an attack that makes no sense against the current opponent or any probable switch-in (hell, that’s still the only way I can beat Aaron’s Heracross without massive losses), but Sudowoodo never does.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually beaten Lucian’s Mr. Mime.  He almost always switches it out after setting up Reflect or Light Screen, so it’s often his last Pokémon standing, even after Bronzong.  This whole fight is pretty rough for Madame Malheur; if she’d been able to evolve into Gengar, she’d be able to outrun a lot of Lucian’s Psychic Pokémon and shoot them down with Shadow Ball, but as a Haunter, she’s just not quite fast enough, strong enough or tough enough to fight most of them toe-to-toe when they can fire back a super-effective Psychic.

Most of Lucian’s Pokémon are not, in principle, that hard to deal with if you’re a high enough level to fight them toe-to-toe (which we’re not, really, but will be soon) – except for Bronzong.  If you don’t have a Fire Pokémon, Bronzong is just always going to be a slog.  This is the reason I can’t afford to have Du Fromage burn most of her Flamethrower PP fighting Aaron’s Vespiquen; I need it for this thing.  Moon Moon’s Aura Sphere can help or finish it off, but I think Du Fromage will always have to do most of the work.

Attempt #24

I didn’t even mean for this rule to be able to do this to people.  I don’t even know if I want to keep it.  The fact is, so much of Pokémon’s game design is built around the assumptions that you usually have free and easy access to healing, and that you can go back and level-grind whenever you want, that it’s really hard to balance anything that stops you from using Pokémon Centres.  Is my pain really hilarious enough to just leave the Hierophant unchanged?  (Don’t answer that.)  I guess the real question is, when my life eventually ends, will I be able to go to my grave in peace knowing that I left these rules out there in the universe, in a condition where someone else could be forced to do this?  Or would I rise as some kind of revenant Poké-wight, driven only by an unceasing deathless hunger to catch ‘em all and be the very best?

Oh.

Huh.

Well.

Um.  I’m actually sort of out of HP healing; I have just enough revives to get everyone back on their feet, and I guess I can spend Du Fromage’s health to patch up the others a bit…

I think that’s what we’ve got.

Erm… here goes nothing.

To be honest, if I can even beat Spiritomb it’ll be a good day.  This might actually be a good time to switch in Du Fromage and try to heal with Softboiled; she’s low on HP but might still be able to survive one hit, and Spiritomb’s really slow so she may not have to survive two…

There we go!

Unfortunately I doubt Du Fromage can actually beat Spiritomb, or even meaningfully fight it; with its Pressure ability she’s effectively down to just two Flamethrowers.  I’m just going to let her heal in this relative safety, drop her last Sweet Kiss and then retreat.

Oh yeah, this Spiritomb has Silver Wind… kind of a weak move generally, but very bad news for me if it gets a lucky roll and boosts all its stats.

That’s actually not bad.  It’ll eat up all my Flash Cannon PP, especially if Cynthia heals it, but I dunno if I need that move for anything else on her team anyway.

o hai

um

What moves does this thing know again…?

Okay, it’s mainly a special Lucario, with Aura Sphere, Dragon Pulse and Psychic, but also has Earthquake.  Either Aura Sphere or Earthquake will just straight-up kill Moon Moon, but I can’t really switch to Du Fromage knowing that it might one-shot her with Earthquake.  Honestly… maybe I just see who’s faster?  That crit with Flash Cannon probably put it in range to take it down with an Aura Sphere, and AI trainers’ Pokémon don’t have EVs (not even Cynthia’s, despite an apparently persistent rumour, although they do all have perfect IV spreads), so Moon Moon could be faster, even at a lower level…

Fµ¢£ it, let’s roll those dice.

…or it could be faster than Moon Moon, but fail its intelligence check to remember that Steel Pokémon are weak to Fighting and Ground attacks.  I mean, yeah, sure, I’ll take that.

Time to see whether I made the right choice picking Quagsire over Gastrodon.  Which Water/Ground-type is stronger?

The answer is Gastrodon, but at least it’s asleep… maybe Madame Malheur can handle this.

Yes, she can!

Spiritomb’s Dark Pulse will do a number on Madame Malheur, but it’s weakened… maybe with Confuse Ray we can slow it down and finish it off.

No, we cannot.

Uh oh.

Oh my god, Spiritomb, Silver Wind is so bad against Lucario. You only had to do 17 damage. Even my screenshot is speechless.  For fµ¢£’s sake.

All right, Effie.  This is the reason you are here.  This is the reason the deck sent you to me and kept you with me this whole time.  You’re immune to Earthquake and you have a 4x effective Ice-type Hidden Power.  THIS IS YOUR MOMENT.

This was not Effie’s moment.

I’m gonna be honest, I’m not seeing a way out of this… Du Fromage dies to any physical attack from a level 66 Garchomp; Anna and Moon Moon might be able to survive some of its attacks if they were at full HP, but they sure as hell won’t outrun it, and in this state…

You know what, Anna?  Good job.  No one expected any more of you.

And with a valiant final effort from Moon Moon, the battle is over.  Honestly, though, that was a solid attempt!  Three of Cynthia’s Pokémon down and some good hits on Garchomp.  I dunno if I can beat Lucian consistently yet, but we’re definitely close.

I was gonna go to attempt #26 here, just for the consistency, because the last one went to #13, but this feels like a good stopping point.  You’d better watch yourself next time, weird myth lady; we’re coming for your Psyduck drugs!

14 thoughts on “Pearl Kingslocke: Episode 27

  1. I agree with your conclusion that heirophant is completely unballanced as i try to deal with it snake eyes and strength while trying to grind enough levels to beat silver and morty as my PP slowly runs dry, luckily i have a champion graveller so even if i do wipe i’ve still got *one* decent pokemon to fall back on
    question about mechanics if i pull a justice card are all the uncaught captures it decrees that i am not yet able to aquire [such as by fishing when i don’t have a rod] lost lost when the card gets pushed out of the active cards?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m writing a clarification on this into the revised rules – you just catch whatever is available at the time you draw the card. You don’t have to come back later when you have Surf or a fishing rod or whatever. I’m going to write some rulings on the day/night cycle and gen V’s seasons too.

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      1. I’ve been curious as to your thoughts about rulings in relation to Alola’s Island Scan Pokémon. (Doing a Kingslocke sounds fun, and the Alola games are my favorites, and I really like the Island Scan feature as it provides some unusual teambuilding options, so I’ve been wondering if there’s a way to incorporate that option instead of just ignoring it for the sake of simplicity.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm. You probably haven’t been keeping track, but I wonder if there are any significant cards you haven’t gotten? Just wondering cause obviously part of this run is to test stuff like how this Hierophant is being weird right now

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I’ve also been playing a run of Platinum privately in the downtime of this one in order to get more data. I think the biggest ones we haven’t seen in this run are the Fool, the Lovers and Temperance.

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  3. There really is just something about music. It attracts your attention, sets the scene… A good piece of music can pull you perfectly into the moment, turning even a mediocre scene into something great. And a *great* piece of music ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkNghDpOzAU )… a great piece of music can make an impression that lasts a lifetime. Sinnoh has some of the best music of any pokemon region, and they pulled out all the stops to make sure your proper encounter with the champion made that impression.

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        1. I mean, for what it’s worth I am extremely not an authority on what is, and is not, good music. I’ve always suspected there’s something about music that I just don’t “get” the way most people do.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m surprised you actually beat Lucian already – seemed like enough of his Pokemon have high special defense that I expected more hurtles.

    Clearly Effie is secretly carrying the team.

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