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 just-completed season of the EXP. Share podcast!
Iris is beaten, but there’s still more of Unova to explore. I think the first order of business is to cut through Twist Mountain to reach Icirrus City in the northwest. Icirrus is a gym site in Black and White, but in the sequels you can’t even visit until… well, now.
I guess this is a change of pace…
Justice: Catch one wild Pokémon of each species in this area (counting evolutions as the same species). As long as this card stays in play, you must use as many of those Pokémon as you can without breaking other rules.
There are no fewer than eight different species of wild Pokémon available throughout Twist Mountain: Onix, Boldore, Woobat, Gurdurr, Beartic, Cryogonal, Heatmor and Durant. I have to catch one of each and build a team with… five of them, plus Magic Joe, who is still a required team member until he matches Lieutenant Derby’s level because of the Fool.
So, I need to pick five members of the Justice League who’ll play nice with the Four of Pentacles. Mr. Sparkle has Night Slash and Solarbeam, which are not exactly good, but you take what you can get with this card. Maggie Tite has Double Edge; that’s reasonable. Dec has Dig, which is at least workable. Smelta has Spit Up, which… I guess technically counts as a non-STAB move, but a pretty terrible one. Timmy Hoffa has Stone Edge, which is great but comes with only 5 PP. John Swoo, Paul Phyry and Qaqortoq have no non-STAB damaging moves, so they’d go to the TM pile and learn… I dunno, probably Dig for Qaqortoq and Return for the other two. I have a few Heart Scales, so after doing that, I can run back to Driftveil City and pick up… let’s say Superpower on Qaqortoq. HMs are usable any time, so finally I can put Surf on Qaqortoq (Beartic has terrible special attack, but it’s better than nothing) and Fly on John Swoo (not actually usable in battle, but a good convenience move). And I have just enough red shards to teach Mr. Sparkle Signal Beam at the Driftveil move tutor.
Also worth noting is that, because I’m playing on an emulator with slightly modified settings, I can slap a Metal Coat on Maggie and do… this!
Which also makes her Stone Edge usable, since she’s no longer a Rock-type.
(Maggie and her friends were just minding their own business, and this fµ¢£ing mushroom turns up out of nowhere, clearly in the middle of an extraordinarily bad trip, ranting about dragons stealing his bones and ghosts chasing him because of an overdue book from the ghost library. And apparently now there’s a universal tax rate of 99%, payable only in a 50/50 mixture of goats’ blood and champagne? Someone’s gotta sort this $#!t out.)
Not to mention, we can pretty easily do this…
So we end up with a team that looks like this? This is the Justice League, I guess? I want to do some more level grinding, since all the trainers from here on out will be calibrated for a team that’s just beaten Iris, but there’s not a lot of room for that with the Hierophant in play.
Twist Mountain has many different indoor areas and this one large outdoor hub, but I think the caves all use the same encounter tables, so I’m (somewhat arbitrarily) going to treat the whole mountain as two “areas” and draw two cards.
The Chariot: You permanently gain two additional “slots” for ongoing rules from Major Arcana cards. The Chariot returns to the deck after being drawn, and drawing it multiple times continues to give you more slots.
For those keeping track, this is the second time in the run I’ve drawn the Chariot. I now have seven slots for Major Arcana cards. My old ones won’t begin to expire until all seven are filled.
…okay, this is absolutely awful.
Yeah, this team is, uh… just not ready, or in any condition to deal with the trainers we’re now fighting.
CHRIS IS A USELESS DUMB IDIOT COUNTER: 5
…I’m out of money. Not only am I out of money, I don’t have enough $#!t to sell to make enough money to pay a tithe to the Hierophant. When you run out of money, the Hierophant excommunicates you: he returns to the deck, but you draw three new cards to replace him. So…
Ace – Waterfall: You cannot switch Pokémon in battle unless one faints or is forced out of play. When your Pokémon do faint, you must use them in party order. This rule is overwritten if you draw a Nine/Snake Eyes, and ends if you draw another Ace.
Nine – Snake Eyes: Immediately box any of your Pokémon that are defeated in battle. They are petrified; you can’t use them again until they are freed. You may free one petrified Pokémon of your choice every time you defeat a gym leader or Elite Four member (or a totem Pokémon or Kahuna in Alola, or a fellow championship contender in Galar). This rule is overwritten by drawing an Ace/Waterfall, and ends if you draw another Nine; once it is gone, no more Pokémon can be petrified, however ones that were already petrified must still wait to be freed.
Seven – Lucky Sevens: Draw two more cards and follow the rules for both.
The Ace of Wands overwrites the Ace of Cups we had in play already, but we’re immediately faced with the equally punishing Nine of Swords instead. And we need two more cards on top of that:
…when it rains, it pours.
King – Vessel: Choose and box one member of your current team; you may replace it with a new Pokémon of your choice from this area OR free one petrified Pokémon. The boxed team member is placed in the Vessel and cannot be returned to your active party, not even by the effects of other cards. If there are ever four Pokémon in the Vessel, those Pokémon immediately become your new party (your other two party slots remain “free” and can be filled with any other Pokémon that are currently legal).
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.
Those keeping track will know that the King of Cups is the fourth and final King of the game. I need to pick a fourth Pokémon to put in the Vessel, say… Qaqortoq.
Those four Vessel Pokémon are now my new party. Until… well, the rules say “until you either earn your next badge or defeat the Elite Four;” these rules were largely written with the assumption that you’d stop playing after beating the Champion. I guess this continues until… until I think of a reason for it to stop??? They’re also immune to any rules that would tell me I can’t use them; they can’t be petrified, they can’t be locked out by the gender cards, etc. Unfortunately, they don’t get to ignore other rules like Four Elements, so they still can’t use STAB moves (except for the Detective, who – as we established way back in episode 3 or 4 – has such a terrible movepool that it’s basically impossible to teach him a non-STAB move). The Exp. Share boys actually read this rule as making the Vessel Pokémon into Champions, like a Knight does, and granting immunity to everything, and honestly I think I will change it to work that way in the next version of the rules just to make it simpler, but it’s actually not what I intended originally, and it’s not the version I’m working under now.
So my party now has to be… Aurelia, Detective Coolumbo, Carmen San Francisco, Qarqortoq, Magic Joe and one other member of the Justice League.
And I have to pick someone who attempt to take the Knight’s Challenge, which… like, fµ¢£, there’s no way that’s happening, I’m just going to pick one of the members of the Justice League that I don’t actually want and let them take the disgrace penalty. I think that Pokémon will actually be disgraced and petrified at the same time, which is like… a theoretical state I haven’t even considered before. I think it might send them to Super Hell.
I don’t even think we’re going to actually attempt the challenge, it’d just be cruel at this point. Sorry, Smelta.
(Smelta hasn’t even gotten to do anything yet and she’s been sent to Super Hell, with very few prospects of release since there are no more gym leaders to fight. She’s going to make the best of it and try to take over.)
To be clear, we are over 1000 words into this post and I haven’t successfully cleared a single game area yet. Y’know, it’s so weird how the mystic spiritual cards that provide me with these rules have completely turned against me and begun torturing me, so soon after I accidentally handed over spiritual control of this entire region to an evil tomb ghost. Probably a coincidence.
At least my Vessel Pokémon can’t be petrified and I’ve gotten rid of the Hierophant and the Ace, so I can actually level-grind properly now.
(Apparently Nefertiti just has all the gold now? Technically Carmen San Francisco has always considered herself an art thief – she’s no common burglar, but a woman of taste. Still, she’s not one to turn up her nose at such a juicy target. This could be the heist of the century if they play their cards right.)
(You know, it’s funny. The Detective’s spent all this time on this new case he got assigned to, a real tough one, no leads at all. How could a murderer use tarot cards to control the fabric of reality? And, gee, he’s at his wits’ end, but then his wife tells him, maybe he should try questioning that ghost broad with all the gold. So he asks her, all subtle like he usually does, whether she knows anything that might be a clue, but she just comes right out and says “of course it was her, she did everything and she’d do it again,” then she tells the Detective to go away and don’t come back without a bucket of fresh caviar soaked in babies’ blood. Little things like that, they bother the Detective.)
(Aurelia has to admit, this whole business of accidentally putting the senile ghost of an aristocratic priestess from a dark, sacrificial ancient Unovan religion in charge of the entire region does kinda sound like something her ex-boyfriend would do. She’s a little more surprised at Woshua; he always seemed like he had his head on straight. She’s worried he might just not be very smart. Whatever the case, she’s finished her vision quest in the Vessel and returns to the physical realm a fully realised paladin of the Sun; banishing darkness is, like, her entire deal now.)
While all this is happening, Magic Joe reaches level 56 and has caught up with Lieutenant Derby, fulfilling the requirements of the Fool. Magic Joe himself doesn’t actually become unusable at this point, but I’m no longer required to use him, and there are so many other Pokémon I am required to use that he immediately gets forced out of the party. The Fool then starts his cycle all over again: my highest-level Pokémon becomes unusable, and I have to use my lowest-level Pokémon until it catches up. My highest-level Pokémon, by now, is Qaqortoq, at level 64, who is a Vessel Pokémon and doesn’t care about the Fool’s orders. My lowest-level Pokémon, at level 30, is Pepper’s brother Salt.
(Salt only signed up with these lunatics because they told his sister they’d help her get the start-up capital for the restaurant. He has no idea what’s going on, and he’s out of fresh basil.)
Incidentally, the reason Salt is a Summer form Sawsbuck, when his sister is Autumn form, is because Deerling and Sawsbuck only change form if they’re in your party when the seasons change. If they’re boxed, they retain their coat from the previous season.
Okay. Time for a rematch with… fµ¢£in’… Veteran Carter or whatever his name is. Bear in mind here that, although we do now have the Nine of Swords in play, most of my party is immune to petrification: Carmen, Aurelia, Qaqortoq and the Detective are protected by the Kings, while Salt is protected because, although the Fool respects other rules when choosing a Pokémon for you to raise, once the choice has been made you’re stuck with it. Only Maggie can actually be petrified if she faints, and with that Ace gone I can switch her out if she’s in danger.
…okay… okay I think it’s possible that this fight isn’t just punishingly hard because of the Kingslocke; I think I may just be really bad. Or maybe it’s just genuinely an extremely hard fight? I dunno, I think the a priori assumption should be that I’m really bad. The Four of Pentacles locking my STAB moves certainly isn’t helping. The Crobat in the centre with Acrobatics supported by the Tauros with Intimidate is kind of difficult to take down efficiently, which means that it easily gets to murder both Carmen and Salt, who are the only Pokémon I have who don’t get murdered equally easily by Carracosta.
By the time Crobat’s down, I only have Maggie left, and she’s safe because she’s on the other side of the field from Carracosta and Tauros can’t break her ridiculous physical defence, but Carracosta also has a Shell Smash boost, and it’s raining in this area, so it can instantly re-murder anyone I revive to fight it. Eventually I have to get Maggie to choke the rain with Sandstorm so I can deal with the fµ¢£ing thing. While this is happening, I have to be careful not to finish off Tauros, who is still hammering Maggie with Earthquake, because in a triple battle Carracosta will move to the centre of the field if it’s the last Pokémon left, opening Maggie up to get one-shot by Hydro Pump.
OKAY! 2000 WORDS IN! I HAVE BEATEN A TRAINER! LET’S GO!
Fortunately, most of the trainers in Black 2 and White 2’s post-Elite Four areas are not this brutal; it seems to be just the “Veterans” who present this major difficulty spike. It’s just my rotten luck that two of those Veterans are the first trainers you encounter if you try to pass through Twist Mountain from the Mistralton side. Other opponents are at slightly lower levels (though still above 60) and don’t have optimised movesets.
oh, Bird Jesus Christ, another one
Fortunately, Chloris here is interested in a rotation battle rather than a triple battle, and rotation battles are confusing enough that you can kinda rely on the AI having no idea what it’s doing (whether you have any idea what you’re doing is, as far as I can tell, largely immaterial). This is still a fairly hard battle, but not a nail-biter.
We’ve made it to Icirrus City! There’s more to see in the bowels of Twist Mountain, and I’ll be going back there shortly, but unlike most cities, Icirrus actually has wild marsh Pokémon in its low-lying areas, so we’ll be drawing a card here (incidentally, this wouldn’t have been the case if I’d arrived here just slightly later, since the game ticks over to winter on the 1st of April and causes Icirrus City’s ponds to freeze over).
Two – You: You may catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area.
…and we get to catch one of them! Not that we have any real scope to use any Pokémon we catch in the foreseeable future, not unless Maggie and the entire rest of the Justice League gets petrified, but the wild Pokémon here will be a high level, so we may as well take one. Our choices are Croagunk, Palpitoad, Karrablast, Shelmet and Stunfisk, and I suppose in a very rough consideration of my overall roster I’m inclined to go with…
(He’s been trying to leave Icirrus City for months, but he just can’t get across the damn highway.)
Also, the Shadow Triad are here, to get revenge on us for turning Ghetsis into a depressed, angry, ranting shell of a man!
The Shadow Triad talk pretty big, but even all three of them in sequence aren’t a huge threat compared to those Veterans in Twist Mountain.
The Icirrus Gym is no longer operational, as Brycen has returned to his previous career as a film star. No cards here. Back to Twist Mountain.
This deepest part of the mountain kinda feels like it should be a new area… but there’s no trainers here, and the wild Pokémon encounter tables are the same as everywhere else.
The same applies to this cavern, which we need to navigate with Strength (I’m putting it on Maggie, instead of Double Edge, which… doesn’t feel like a great trade, honestly, I think Double Edge’s power is worth the recoil, but it’s fine).
There’s a friend back here, but it’s asleep. I think you need all three of the lesser golems to wake up Regigigas.
Now this is definitely a new area: the Clay Tunnel, a newly constructed passage that links Twist Mountain to Driftveil City. Let’s draw a card…
Another Two – a little boring, but sure, I guess I’ll take that. To be honest, I don’t know if there’s even any Pokémon in here that I don’t already have, except…
…y’know, technically the card only says I may catch a Pokémon, never that I have to.
…I suppose I may as well.
Like Twist Mountain, Clay Tunnel has several segments that all have the same wild Pokémon. However, it also has…
This secret chamber. The way this place works is complicated; it looks different at different times of day, and there’s clues that lead you to secret buttons that open up even more different versions of the chamber, and I’m pretty sure fully completing the area requires some interaction with White 2, but the point right now is…
This fµ¢£er is here.
Reginald goes straight to the Void, of course, but more legendary Pokémon are always nice to have.
By the time we reach the other end of the tunnel, Salt has hit level 64, fulfilling his level target for the Fool and causing that whole process to start a new cycle. Once again, my highest level Pokémon is Qaqortoq at level 66, and he ignores the card’s instruction to box him. But, once again, I can’t keep Salt in the party when there are so many other Pokémon I’m required to use. I guess in theory I could just take another of the Justice League with me; they’d be vulnerable to petrification but I wouldn’t have to keep cycling. But I think it’s more in the spirit of the rules to take the next Pokémon designated by the Fool: my next lowest-level Pokémon, who is…
(It turns out watching the bay is harder than you’d think. Pamela never took her eyes off it, but she completely missed the Team Plasma frigate. She thinks she’ll be better with some practice.)
Unfortunately, Mantyke can only evolve with a Remoraid in the party, and we don’t have a Remoraid, so Pamela’s probably never going to be very useful. But we can always slap an Exp. Share on her; she’ll get to level 66 eventually.
Back to Icirrus City now; there’s a few more areas I want to look at before finishing this episode.
The exterior of the Dragonspiral Tower is technically its own area with its own wild Pokémon, so…
Judgement: When you draw this card, choose one: you must use Pokémon that are all from the same generation, OR you must use Pokémon that are all from different generations.
Judgement is not actually not a huge inconvenience with my current setup. My four Vessel Pokémon can do whatever they want, and I’m stuck with Pamela no matter what once the Fool chooses her. Only Maggie actually has to follow this rule; I can just declare that I’m using Pokémon of different generations, and she’s my generation II pick. Of course, once I’ve passed anything that could count as a “milestone battle” (there’s no more gym leaders, but there are end-game bosses that could arguably qualify), my Vessel Pokémon will no longer be protected and this will become a massive headache… but we’re safe for now.
Now for the Dragonspiral Tower itself…
Eight – Mate: Box the Pokémon in your current party that has spent the most time in your active party over the course of the game (this may be a judgement call; if two or more Pokémon have spent roughly equal time in your active party, you may choose one of them). You cannot use that Pokémon again unless another card revokes this rule.
I don’t think I can weasel out of this one; technically my longest-serving party member at this point is probably Aurelia, who is protected by the Kings, but I think the Eight has to take someone, and the only one it can take is Maggie.
Unfortunately, none of the other members of the Justice League are legal with that decision I just made for Judgement: all of them are generation V Pokémon, and I have generation V Pokémon locked into my team by the Kings. I think if I’ve tried and failed to get the Justice League into my party, I just… have a free spot? Will have to think about this.
Oh, right. Maggie was the one who had Strength. I guess I’d better teach it to Qaqortoq instead; Thrash isn’t that great a move anyway.
Dragonspiral Tower has a bunch of cool loot, including the Dragon Claw TM, the three “Orbs” of the legendary dragons of Sinnoh and a Comet Shard that we can sell back in Icirrus City for a ludicrous 60,000 Money. There’s no legendary dragon or pivotal conflict with N here in this game, though. There might be some other event here if we return later; off the top of my head I’m not sure. Back to Icirrus City.
Route 8! Another card!
Queen – A Ship Came Into The Harbour: …carrying a boatload of Pokémon! Keep catching the first Pokémon you see in this area until you have caught enough to fill your party. You may choose to skip Pokémon that you know you would not be able to use (e.g. male Pokémon if you have a Six in play, or Pokémon from the wrong generation if you have Justice in play). If you already have a full party, catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area OR free one petrified Pokémon.
Well, I have a space in my party, but because of Judgement I don’t think any of the wild Pokémon here can fill it… so I think we treat my party as being full. I can either catch a Pokémon of my choice (same ones as in Icirrus City itself) or free a petrified Pokémon. I only have one petrified Pokémon – Smelta the Heatmor – but she’s disgraced and petrified, so freeing her won’t actually help much. I guess technically she’d no longer be in Super Hell. But I think it makes just as much sense to catch…
(Smelta doesn’t need us. She’s the only Pokémon who’s ever been sent to Super Hell, and is well on her way to conquering the pathetic humans who reside there. She’ll have her revenge in good time.)
At the other end of this route is the Tubeline Bridge, which leads back to Opelucid City and areas we’ve seen before. On Black 2 and White 2, there are no trainers on Tubeline Bridge, so we don’t draw a card here. There’s just one more area to explore, and we will have seen all of northwestern Unova, which seems like as good a place as any to stop for now.
Here we are: the Moor of Icirrus. One last card…
The Magician: Your Pokémon may not use physical attacks, unless they have no special attacks. Pokémon in your active party with no special attacks must learn one as soon as possible (using a TM/TR if you have, or can easily buy, a compatible one). This rule is overwritten if you draw Strength.
So, we are once again stuck with… only non-STAB special attacks… on a team of mostly physical attackers…
Qaqortoq already knows Surf and Carmen knows Swift, so that’s what they’ve got. Pamela only has a STAB special attack, Water Pulse, so we’ll teach her Ice Beam. The Detective still has no access to any non-STAB moves at all, even via TM, but he can learn a couple of special attacks from my TMs, so we’ll have to pick one… and, y’know, go big or go home; we could give him Echoed Voice but I’d much rather teach him Hyper Beam.
Do I have anyone with halfway decent special attacks that could fill my sixth slot…? They would have to be a… generation II or III Pokémon, to comply with Judgement, and have at least okay non-STAB special attacks…
(Oh good. Aurelia’s ex is here. She’s sure this won’t be a complete disaster in any way whatsoever.)
Okay, let’s just clear out the Moor of Icirrus and call it quits before I draw anything else that fµ¢£s me up even worse.
Here’s what we’re currently working with…
The Chariot – has been drawn twice; up to 7 other Major Arcana cards can be in play
The Fool – must cycle highest- and lowest-level Pokémon in and out of the team
Justice – must use as many as possible of: Timmy Hoffa the Gurdurr, Maggie Tite the Steelix, Smelta the Heatmor, John Swoo the Woobat, Mr. Sparkle the Cryogonal, Dec the Durant, Qaqortoq the Beartic and Paul Phyry the Gigalith
Judgement – must use Pokémon from different generations
The Magician – no physical attacks
Four of Pentacles – no STAB moves
Eight of Pentacles – Maggie Tite the Steelix cannot be used
Nine of Swords – fainted Pokémon are petrified
Knight of Wands – Smelta the Heatran is disgraced
THE FOUR KINGS – Detective Coolumbo, Carmen San Francisco, Aurelia and Qaqortoq must be used and are immune to any rules that would prevent this