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!
Now, where were we?
This is fine.
We’ve got a bunch of Team Plasma minions to clear out of Opelucid City, plus Zinzolin himself, so let’s draw a card.
Lucky number seven!
Seven – Lucky Sevens: Draw two more cards and follow the rules for both.
Come on, baby; daddy needs a new set of rules…
The High Priestess: You may not use healing items (including berries), either in or out of battle.
Five – Guys: You cannot use your female Pokémon (unless you have no male or genderless Pokémon). This rule is overwritten by drawing a Six/Chicks, and ends if you draw another Five. You may catch the first male wild Pokémon you see in this area.
Okay, well… the good news is, the Five of Wands cancels out the Five of Swords, which means I can have a mixed-gender team again. No wild Pokémon to catch in Opelucid City, but, eh, win some, lose some.
Mulberry is really struggling to contribute right now, so I think I’ll let him take some time off and bring Nefertiti along instead; she’s pretty much ready for anything with status moves and Night Shade, and she hasn’t been getting her recommended daily allowance of… I dunno, peasants’ blood or whatever it is she’s always asking for.
The bad news is, I now can’t use healing items and my Pokémon will still be petrified if they faint. I also now have three Major Arcana cards in play – Temperance, the Magician and the High Priestess – but because I drew the Chariot last time, I’ll have to draw two more before I’m at my limit.
Ugh, Zinzolin’s Weavile is a bastard; it got a crit on Lieutenant Derby so I had to switch him out, then another on Fartstink, so she couldn’t finish it off. I could switch in Woshua, but his Icy Wind will hardly do anything. Nefertiti’s weak to Dark attacks and Alvin already got beaten up pretty badly by Zinzolin’s Cryogonal; I… think I have to use Zoroark, at least he resists Night Slash…
TWO CRITS IN A ROW ON ZOROARK
I mean, I know Night Slash has a high critical hit rate, but COME ON, two in a row is still 1/64
(You didn’t see nothing. Zoroark’s been petrified; that’s all you know. Convenient that Pokémon who’ve been petrified can’t do anything. If… something… were to happen while a Pokémon was petrified, it would be a perfect alibi. Zoroark’s not implying anything. Zoroark’s just making an observation.)
Hmm… Pepper would have to learn Echoed Voice to comply with our $#!tty rules; Calafia only has Struggle Bug… I think we need Yu’effoh’s ray gun for this one.
Before moving on to Humilau City, I want to poke my head out of Opelucid City to the west and see what we find.
The Star: You may use any of the following mechanics to acquire one new Pokémon of your choice from any area you have already visited: breeding (any region), the Bug-Catching Contest (Johto), Honey Trees (Sinnoh), Hidden Grottoes (Unova), Island Scan (Alola), Max Raids (Galar).
The old version of the Star was a really good draw, but also really boring (it just let you catch a Pokémon in each of the next three areas). The new version is still really good, but lets you do more interesting things. Black and White 2 don’t let you breed Pokémon until really late, but Hidden Grottoes offer a lot of choice if you have the patience to wait for the spawns. Of the places I’ve been so far, there are Hidden Grottoes on routes 5, 6, 7 and 13, as well as right here on route 9. All have different possible Pokémon spawns, and those Pokémon can have their hidden abilities. You’re not guaranteed to find a Pokémon, but you can always walk around for a while and come back to try again.
This is the place – where the area between the trees looks filled-in.
This grotto’s a bust, at least for now, but I can check out the others and come back later.
Hmm… Seviper’s not bad, but I think I can do better; I have a Poison-type already and Seviper’s hidden ability is nothing special.
Now, Foongus… Amoongus is actually pretty strong, it’s one of the better native Grass-types available in Unova. It also has Regenerator as its hidden ability, which is really good (and a dramatic improvement over its standard Effect Spore). This is definitely a long-game pick, but I’ll take a Foongus.
(Magic Joe’s magic, bro. Magic Joe sees everything. Magic Joe knows what’s up; lights in the sky, man, floating ships and ice dragons and mystic musketeers, Magic Joe’s been saying it all along. The world’s gotta become conscious, man, gotta wake up to the sound of the dreams. Would you like to buy some drUGS?)
(Woshua realises he’s been a bit noncommittal about a lot of stuff lately, but he knows one thing for sure: Magic Joe is completely trustworthy and competent, and the team should immediately believe everything he says.)
Our next stop is the last gym in Humilau City, via Undella Town. Last time I was in Undella Town, I neglected to check out Undella Bay and draw a card here, so let’s do that now.
We’re ON A HOT STREAK, boys!
Seven – Lucky Sevens: Draw two more cards and follow the rules for both.
Nine of Wands cancels the Nine of Pentacles; sweet. And we have the triumphant return of the Lovers card, which we haven’t seen since the beginning of the story…
The Lovers: Your party must consist of opposite-gender pairs of Pokémon that share an egg group. Genderless Pokémon may be paired with a Pokémon of any gender that shares an egg group. If both the Lovers and a Five/Guys or Six/Chicks are in effect, you can form same-gender pairs, but must still pair Pokémon that share an egg group. You may catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area that would form a valid pair with any Pokémon that was in your party when you drew this card.
This… is going to require some juggling.
Okay, first: can we catch anything here? In my party at this moment, I have Pokémon in the Field (Woshua, Alvin and Lt. Derby), Monster (Lt. Derby), Humanshape (Yu’effoh), Amorphous (Nefertiti) and Mineral (Nefertiti and Fartstink) egg groups. Undella Bay does indeed have Pokémon from the Field and Amorphous groups, so let’s just see what we find first…
She was an ancient vengeful tomb spirit. He was an ancient vengeful sea spirit. Can I make it any more obvious?
Now for the… complicated part. The Lovers lets you form same-gender pairs if you have a Five or Six in play, and allows those existing pairs to remain valid if the Five or Six leaves play. Even though this is a new “instance” of the Lovers, I think we’re justified in saying that, yes, Alvin and Woshua are still gay and still count as a valid pair (without that Rule Card from early in the game, I don’t think I can legally use Mulberry with them, although obviously this means nothing to their love; I mean, he’s been off active duty for a while anyway, so they’ll just go on seeing him at every Pokémon Centre visit). The only Humanshape Pokémon I have aside from Yu’effoh is Carmen San Francisco, and they’re both female, so that’s a bust, although Carmen herself is also in the Field Group, so I could match her with Lieutenant Derby. Fartstink… Fartstink presents an interesting problem. I’m allowed to use Fartstink no matter what, because she’s my Champion, but if I don’t pair her with someone, I’ll have an orphaned slot on my team and be limited to only five Pokémon. As a female Mineral group Pokémon, Fartstink has no valid pairing with anyone else on my roster. As my Champion, she’s also able to fight competently when most of my other Pokémon are saddled with so many restrictions I can barely keep track anymore. Honestly, I think the correct play here is just to take the hit and use a five-slot party so I can keep Fartstink.
(Fartstink’s very sorry to cause such a fuss, and of course she’s grateful to her friends for trying to get her “back on the market,” but she really feels that’s a young Pokémon’s game. Ever since her second husband died, her heart just hasn’t been in it.)
Basically, I’m faced with a choice between Lieutenant Derby/Carmen San Francisco and Nefertiti/Shoal (there are other possible pairs I could make; the trouble is that, as we’ve already established, hardly any of my Pokémon can actually do anything under the combination of Temperance, the Magician and the Four of Swords). Nefertiti and Lieutenant Derby are two of the best Pokémon I have right now – Nefertiti with Night Shade and her status moves, the Lieutenant with Power Gem and Signal Beam. Shoal… is a low level, and I’m pretty sure I’d be forced to spend a Heart Scale having him relearn Absorb for these rules. Carmen, on the other hand, has Swift and Calm Mind, which is actually halfway decent. So I think the team is now… this?
(Woshua and Alvin observe with curiosity and perhaps a hint of alarm as Lieutenant Derby starts getting closer to a notorious art thief and con woman. He can “change her,” he insists. This seems unlikely, but she is on their side, at least…)
At the north end of Undella Bay is the Seaside Cave. This Black Belt and his Roggenrola are blocking the entrance, but he’ll challenge any trainer with seven badges and clear out once defeated. Let’s see what we draw…
Yes! Things are looking up! The Four of Wands cancels out the Four of Swords I’ve had in play since forever, so my Pokémon can use STAB moves again – or at least, special STAB moves with no more than 80 power. This unlocks Discharge for Lieutenant Derby. We can also catch the first wild Pokémon we see whose type doesn’t match anyone else in the party…
Losing the STAB restriction actually makes a lot of other Pokémon potentially more viable as well. Woshua’s Icy Wind was formerly the best of a bunch of bad options, but his Surf doesn’t unlock here because we still have Temperance in play. We do, however, unlock Energy Ball for Pepper, Dragonbreath for Calafia, Fire Spin for Invicta, Shadow Ball for Nefertiti, Water Pulse and Ominous Wind for Shoal, and Air Slash for young Robin here – provided we can pair them up under the Lovers. I actually think Nefertiti and Shoal may now be a stronger pair than Alvin and Woshua if we level and evolve Shoal (the high-level Boldore in this cave are a good excuse to do exactly that). Alvin’s decent, but we’ve kinda passed the point in the game’s power curve where even a very dedicated and heroic Watchog can be a great choice. Besides, they’ll be happier spending a bit of time with Mulberry.
(Some onlookers call Nefertiti a “cradle-robber,” and others call Shoal a “gold-digger” – after all, he’s barely 250, and she has to guess how old she is by studying ancient inscriptions. But age is just a number, and they have so many shared interests – dark magic, subjugating mortals, trying to remember whether they had any hobbies when they were alive, the slow and ominous corruption of the spiritual realms, fine dining.)
We’re taking the long way to Humilau City, but I don’t think there’s anything interesting in the Marine Tube other than some nice views.
oh, god, not you again
The Hanged Man: None of your Pokémon may evolve, although you may continue to use Pokémon that have evolved already. You may catch the first unevolved Pokémon you see in this area.
Well, that’s going to throw a wrench in Carmen San Francisco’s plans for a daring art heist… not to mention Calafia’s quest to reclaim her stolen throne, and whatever Robin’s deal is… but at least I have a lot of fully evolved Pokémon now. And I get to catch an unevolved Pokémon, like…
(Someone has to, y’know, watch the ol’ bay. Make sure it doesn’t get up to anything suspicious, and nothing suspicious gets got up to. Can’t be too careful, what with the rumours and all. Pamela’s been thinking of setting up some kind of roster, some kind of community organisation, like a sort of… bay-watch.)
In addition to all that, we now have five Major Arcana cards in play: Temperance, the Magician, the High Priestess, the Lovers and the Hanged Man. After drawing the Chariot earlier in the run, five is my limit: if I draw one more, the oldest card – Temperance – goes away.
And here’s Humilau City!
Seeing as Carmen’s going to be hobbled by the Hanged Man, and we’ve got a Water-type gym coming up, I might take this opportunity to try to set Lieutenant Derby up with Pepper instead.
(Going on a few dates with Patracia’s cousin’s boyfriend’s ex in order to get him away from the obvious scam artist he’s been seeing is definitely one of the weirder favours Pepper’s ever done for anyone. To be honest, she’s not even sure how it’s supposed to help; if he makes bad choices, that’s on him. On the other hand, he’s hot and she’s up for something casual, so hey, what the hell.)
Nature Power is an interesting move because it “calls” different attacks depending on what kind of terrain you’re in, but counts as a status move and has no base power of its own. I’m inclined to rule that this means you can always use Nature Power no matter what Kingslocke rules you’re under (in general, I like to rule in favour of anything that would make rare, weird or underpowered moves more useful). In generation V, Nature Power becomes Tri Attack when used in indoor locations like gyms – a pretty solid move for a Normal-type like Pepper.
Something else we can do before actually challenging the gym is check out the area just past Humilau City, which means… well, you know the drill at this point.
Three – Me: You may catch the first wild Pokémon you see in this area.
Okay, let’s see what we get…
You know what? I’m not even going to question it. I’m just going to accept it.
(These kids’ll be all right; Ol’ Nick’ll just be right here shippin’ “proprietary goods” to whomsoever’s got the whatchawithall to pay for ‘em. They’d best come to him if’n they ever need a buyer outside’a the usual channels.)
Last gym! Yeah! We can do this! We’re gonna win! Let’s goooooo!
Knight – Challenge: Choose one of your current party Pokémon to fight every trainer battle solo until you have won at least five (not counting rematches) and drawn another card. If it ever loses, it is disgraced and must be boxed until another card revokes this rule. If it wins every battle, it becomes your champion and ignores all other rules and restrictions. Either way, drawing another Knight ends all effects of this card and issues a new challenge.
Something to own up to here: until I’d finished writing this post and went to do the formatting, I actually forgot how my own rules work – or at least, how the current version of the Knight works; it’s been through a couple of different iterations and I’m still not sure whether I’m happy with it (comments are appreciated). I played through this gym working on the idea that the challenge would only cover the first five trainers, which is what happened with Fartstink’s challenge back in Driftveil Gym. In fact, of course, the Knight’s Challenge continues until you’ve drawn another card. Fartstink didn’t have to fight Clay alone because her challenge technically started on Driftveil Drawbridge and we drew another card when we entered the gym, but in order to actually become Champion here, one of my Pokémon would have had to take on the entire gym solo, including Marlon. That being the case, the correct play here should have been to either pick the Pokémon I cared about least and just take the hit, or put all my money (and a Lucky Egg) on Lt. Derby and power-level him before challenging Marlon. As you’ll see, what I did was… not those things.
Well, peeps… it’s the end of an era. Fartstink the Garbodor’s tenure as my Champion is at an end, and a new hero must rise. Since I have no male or genderless Pokémon from the Mineral egg group, there’s no one Fartstink can partner with to satisfy the Lovers rule, so as soon as she loses her Champion status, she goes straight back in the box, and will have no opportunity to become Champion again.
(Fartstink’s bad knee’s been acting up again lately and she thinks she needs to take it easy for a while. Her new friends have made her feel young again and she’s had so much fun helping them, but she wouldn’t want to slow them down. Besides, her garden is probably a mess by now.)
I think the logical choice now is to bring Alvin and Woshua back into the active party. The only other remotely viable Lovers-compliant pair I can see right now is a marriage of convenience between Calafia (who has no real interest in romance but could use a spouse for political reasons) and Mulberry (who would much rather remain faithful to Woshua and Alvin, but would be willing to take one for the team if they agreed to it), and even that prospect doesn’t look great with the Hanged Man blocking Calafia’s evolution to Flygon and Mulberry stuck using Struggle Bug. I guess if Calafia took the Knight’s Challenge and became my Champion… but no, I honestly just doubt she can do it; too many Pokémon in this gym that might have Ice attacks.
As for my other options for Champion… Lieutenant Derby wouldn’t actually stand to gain very much from Champion status at the moment, since he has a decent moveset that’s fully compliant with Temperance and the Magician, but he would have the best chance of winning five battles solo in a Water-type gym. Pepper is a high-risk, high-reward choice; she’s vulnerable to being blindsided by an Ice attack, especially with the High Priestess blocking me from healing, but she is strong against Water Pokémon, and could unlock a powerful Jump Kick attack if she were my Champion.
You know what, I’m doing it. Pepper the Sawsbuck, make us proud!
Opening with Swagger instead of just fighting her straight-up with Ice Fang so it came down to a 50/50 was a real twist of the knife there, you pinnipedian piece of $#!t.
Well… that means Pepper has lost the Knight’s Challenge and is disgraced.
(Pepper’s not bitter. Why would she be bitter? Just because some fµ¢£ing walrus beat her with a dirty trick? That’s no reason to be bitter. If she and her brother ever manage to get that restaurant started, their signature dish is going to be walrus steaks. But not because she’s bitter.)
It also means that our cunning gambit to use her as a good influence on the Lieutenant is a failure. In order to keep him in the party, we need a partner for him. So…
(Carmen won’t get in anyone’s way, she promises. She’ll just be here in an… advisory capacity. After all, she realises the others are all renowned fighters and she’s merely a humble art object redistributionist, but stealing a badge is a lot like an art heist. Winning! Winning a badge is what she meant.)
Well, this clearly isn’t going to work; Carmen’s only damaging move is Swift. She’ll have to switch out and see if any of the gym’s back doors are unguarded.
Carracosta’s Shell Smash makes its offensive power too much for even Nefertiti to handle.
Fortunately, Alvin comes in to save the day with Dig, easily finishing Carracosta.
Wailord is just too big for Alvin to eat, and manages to overcome him. At this point… my options are getting limited. This Wailord has buffed its special defence with Amnesia, and Woshua will barely dent it with Icy Wind. I think I have to send in the Lieutenant.
And a very opportune crit from Wailord leaves Shoal to clean up what’s left, unfortunately getting him paralysed by Bounce in the process.
Oof. Wailord is down, but Marlon still has his Jellicent, and I’m out of tricks. Carmen can’t even damage it with Swift and Woshua’s Icy Wind will be next to useless. Shoal and Marlon’s Jellicent will be weak to each other’s Ghost attacks, but Shoal is weakened and paralysed. We also can’t revive anyone because of the High Priestess.
A Cursed Body trigger keeps Jellicent from using Ominous Wind for a few turns, giving Shoal time to use Recover and strike back, but he also loses turns to paralysis, and in the end only gets to hit it with his own Ominous Wind once.
Woshua’s Icy Wind is, as predicted, barely worth using.
…and finally, Jellicent catches Carmen trying to break into Marlon’s safe.
CHRIS IS A USELESS DUMB IDIOT COUNTER: 3
4, if you count forgetting how Knights work.
Should’ve had Lieutenant Derby take the Knight’s Challenge; it would have been really nice to have Pepper in this battle. For that matter, it was clearly a mistake to imagine that Carmen San Francisco would be able to contribute anything at all; having her at the front just gave Carracosta a turn to use Shell Smash. Let’s come in guns blazing for take 2.
Since Alvin worked against Carracosta last time, I figured he could do it again, but he decided to cleverly lull Carracosta into a false sense of security by missing twice in a row with Hypnosis, then got murdered by a Shell Smash-boosted Scald.
Carracosta’s Sturdy ability keeps the Lieutenant from taking it out with a single Discharge, then it burns him with Scald. Ultimately, they fight to a draw, but at least Marlon’s already had to use his hyper potion on Carracosta.
Wailord’s Water Veil stops Nefertiti from burning it with Will-o-Wisp. I decide to try gambling on Leftovers recovery for Nefertiti to use Curse, rather than taking on its boosted special defence with Shadow Ball; that doesn’t work out, but at least Wailord will just drop dead on its own in a couple of turns.
This time, Shoal isn’t already injured and paralysed. Marlon’s Jellicent is more powerful, but Shoal is able to heal through its Ominous Wind until he gets a Cursed Body trigger, then…
Phew. That was close. Gonna be honest, I was… kinda banking on Alvin’s luck being less $#!tty than that, but it worked out in the end.
Okay! That’s eight badges out of eight, so now we just have to deal with Team Plasma. As always, let’s review:
The Chariot – has been drawn once; up to 5 other Major Arcana cards can be in play
Temperance – no attacks with more than 80 power
The Magician – no physical attacks
The High Priestess – no healing items
The Lovers – party Pokémon must be in opposite-gender pairs that share an egg group
The Hanged Man – Pokémon may not evolve
King of Wands – Detective Coolumbo the Tranquill is in the Vessel
King of Swords – Aurelia the Growlithe is in the Vessel
Special – Artemis the Virizion is in the Void