Rules are here, and if you’re interested in hearing about the tribulations of other trainers suffering through this ridiculous challenge run I’ve created, check out the current season of the Exp. Share podcast!
While not technically a new “route” in the game’s own terms, the part of route 20 at the bottom of these stairs is inaccessible until after you’ve defeated Cheren, and it has different and higher-level wild Pokémon. In the past, I’ve normally treated situations like that as new “areas” for Kingslocke purposes.
Ten – Rule Card: An observer to the game may revoke any or all (or none) of the rules currently affecting you, AND free any or all (or none) of your petrified Pokémon, AND either make up a new rule or change an existing one. If no observers are available, you may revoke one rule.
Now there’s a twist… let’s see what Jim the Editor has in store for me.
(The other idea he had was a mechanic where I could voluntarily perma-box Pokémon in order to re-draw cards I didn’t like; I decided that the Deep Lore Possibilities of the Three Musketeers rule were too good to pass up)
So, after a little back-and-forth, discussing how this rule would differ from the “Champion” status conferred by the four Knights, this is the practical upshot:
Woshua, Alvin and Mulberry are the Three Musketeers. They operate as a unit, and anything that makes one of them unusable (say, I draw an Eight/Mate and have to send one to the PC, or one of them gets petrified by Nine/Snake Eyes) affects all three of them. However, they are immune to the effects of many other cards, like the Hanged Man or the High Priestess. Right now, I have an Ace/Waterfall in play, which they can now ignore: I can switch between the three of them whenever I want (but any other Pokémon I add to my party won’t have this freedom).
As a special case, Woshua, Alvin and Mulberry are now treated as a throuple by the Lovers card (so I can add another matched pair to my party without being forced to get rid of Mulberry). Readers are free – nay, encouraged – to imagine the dynamics of that relationship for themselves.
Anyway. As complicated as all that may have seemed, we don’t actually have to do anything about it right now – we aren’t catching any new Pokémon here, so we just have to move on to Virbank City.
I think there might be one or two story-related battles with Team Plasma grunts here later on, but I don’t remember the details, so for now we won’t draw a card.
The Virbank Gym is in this nightclub, and we could go there right away, but first it’s probably better to check out the industrial complex at the south end of the city, do a bit more training, and maybe even catch a new Pokémon.
And our draw for this area is…
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.
That means all three of our Musketeers are going into a PC box. Apart from the Five of Wands (which the Six specifically overwrites), the cards we have will all stay in play – the Lovers will still apply to any Pokémon we catch going forward, and if we lose the Six and get Woshua and the others back, they’ll still have their special status from the Ten of Wands. But first things first: I need to catch the first female wild Pokémon I can find.
…yeah, I guess that tracks.
Well, come on, Patracia… time to smash the patratriarchy. Better go back and get you another two or three levels before venturing deeper into the Virbank Complex, though. She’s a lone Patrat; we have to give her a fighting chance.
I suppose that’ll do.
The entrance to the Virbank Complex is actually a separate area from the complex proper, and the wild Pokémon inside are slightly different and have higher levels. That means we draw another card here:
Oh. Huh. Well, I guess we aren’t going to see Patracia vs. the world after all (or not yet, anyway). The Six of Swords cancels out the previous Six of Cups, and we get to catch the first female Pokémon we see in the inner complex.
Although we’re now free to use both male and female Pokémon, we still have the Lovers to contend with. The full rules text for the Lovers says that:
If you have arranged your Pokémon into same-gender pairs and the effect of the Five/Guys or Six/Chicks ends while the Lovers is still in play, those same-gender pairs remain valid. Those Pokémon are gay now; I don’t make the rules (this was a lie; I literally do make the rules).
…so the throuple of Alvin, Woshua and Mulberry is still fair game, but our female Pokémon now need to be paired with male Pokémon of matching egg groups. Fortunately…
(the Lance Corporal is bisexual, okay? Woshua admits he feels a little bit awkward about his hot army ex-boyfriend joining the team together with a new girlfriend, but he’s a fµ¢£in’ adult, he is happy with Alvin and Mulberry, he is happy for Derby and Aurelia, and he has promised himself he will not make a scene over this)
Since there isn’t space in the party for another pair, we’re likely to be limited to five Pokémon for the foreseeable future (unfortunately for Patracia). Also, the Ace of Pentacles is still in play: Mulberry, Alvin and Woshua can switch between each other freely because of their special Musketeer status, but I can only use Aurelia and Lance Corporal Derby if they’re at the front of the party, or if they’re next in line when someone else faints.
Anyway. After touring the Virbank Complex for some battles, we now have a much stronger party than before, with higher levels and two new Pokémon (everyone is level 14, except for Aurelia, who’s very close behind). Time to see what Roxie’s nightclub-cum-Pokémon gym has in store for us…
And because this is definitely an area with some major battles, we also need to see what the deck has in store.
Four – Elements: Your Pokémon may not use attacks that get a Same-Type Attack Bonus, unless they have no un-STABed damaging moves (note that moves with fixed damage like Dragon Rage and Nightshade do not have STAB). Pokémon in your active party with no un-STABed attacks must learn one as soon as they can (using a TM/TR if you have, or can easily buy, a compatible one). This rule ends if you draw another Four. You may catch the first Pokémon you see in this area that does not share a type with any of your current party Pokémon.
Oof. Woshua, Alvin and Mulberry get to ignore this by virtue of their Three Musketeers special rule, but it still means no Thundershock for Lance Corporal Derby and no Ember for Aurelia. Aurelia will also need a new TM move – fortunately I have a Return TM now, so at least she won’t be stuck with Frustration, which gets worse and worse over time. And of course there are no wild Pokémon in Roxie’s gym, so we don’t get the Four of Wands’ usual silver lining either.
The gimmick of Roxie’s gym is that her band is performing so loudly she doesn’t even realise we want to battle her. We need to take out the drummer and the lead guitarist before she’ll accept our challenge. With some of my team’s STAB moves locked, this is… a touch frustrating; most of the Poison Pokémon in here have high physical defence, and I was kinda banking on Derby and Aurelia doing a lot of work with Thundershock and Ember.
It’s not all bad news, though…
(Woshua’s feelings on this development are of course extremely confusing, blending the impulse to be happy for a friend with a troubling sense of inadequacy, the stirrings of renewed attraction and, in turn, shades of guilt)
Black 2’s name rater is in Castelia City, which is our next stop after Virbank. I’ll be visiting at the earliest opportunity to secure a promotion for the Lance Corporal.
Like Cheren, Roxie has only two Pokémon. Also like Cheren, she has me outlevelled by a fair margin – her Koffing is level 16, and her Whirlipede is level 18.
Alvin does some good work against Koffing with Bite and Sand Attack, but isn’t able to go the distance when Roxie heals it up. Fortunately, those accuracy drops give Aurelia an opportunity to come in and clean up.
Aurelia manages to hit Whirlipede with Leer to soften it up for the others before she goes down.
And Mulberry scores a speed drop from String Shot.
The Lance Corporal paralyses Whirlipede with Thunder Wave, and is able to tank a couple of Venoshocks after boosting his special defence with Charge, but doesn’t last long after Whirlipede gets him with Poison Point. It’s all up to Woshua now.
It’s very close, but between Tail Whip and Focus Energy, Woshua is able to secure a devastating crit and finish Whirlipede without having to risk exposure to its nasty Poison Point/Venoshock combo. Gym 2 is done!
And our cards in play:
The Lovers – party Pokémon must be in opposite-gender pairs that share an egg group
Ace of Pentacles – can’t switch in battle
Ten of Wands – Woshua, Alvin and Mulberry are the Three Musketeers: they ignore some other rules and count as a throuple for the Lovers, but if we are forced to box one of them, they all go
Four of Wands – no STAB moves
I honestly think this is going pretty well at the moment! Jim’s special rule on the Ten of Wands insulates me from a lot of the worst of the Ace and the Four, although it does make my team composition pretty fragile: I could easily lose all three of my Musketeers at a single stroke. Fingers crossed they can stay together and keep their relationship a happy one!