Last time we left off, I was hoping to prepare my team to challenge the Goldenrod City Gym and its infamous master, Whitney’s Miltank. There’s a lot of trainers up to the north of the city that we can fight before we move on to earn some more levels, and some of them even have personalities!
This is Juggler Irwin. Irwin has heard about the Slowpoke Well incident, is now the player character’s fanboy, and wants to hear about everything they do. I am not certain this is an appropriate relationship for him to have with a preteen child.
This is Firebreather Walt. He breathes fire. This is, to all appearances, his whole deal.
This is Bug Catcher Arnie. His Venonat really is in the top percentage of Venonat; he just doesn’t go on and on about it. If memory serves, he can also alert you to Yanma swarms in this area.
And were we are in Johto’s famed and beautiful National Park. Time to draw the first card of the day!
Oh – as the saying goes – no.
The Magician: Ongoing: Your Pokémon’s physical attacks are locked. This rule is revoked if you draw Strength.
Well, I suppose this isn’t too bad, at least for now. Abazigal is using Twister and Dragon Rage, so he doesn’t care. Zoltar won’t be able to use Headbutt, but there’s nothing wrong with Confusion. Hannah doesn’t know any special attacks and can’t learn any from the TMs I have, or even from the TMs available at the Goldenrod Department Store (Ekans… does not have a good special movepool), so she gets to dodge the rule for now. Unfortunately, she will learn Acid at level 20, and thus lose access to her physical attacks. Hannah’s special attack stat isn’t that bad, but Glare, Bite and Screech synergise together pretty well and Acid… does not.
As for long-term considerations… thanks to Nadja and the King of Cups, my Pokémon from the Flying egg group will ignore the Magician completely, so Kenya and Breeze will be free to use physical attacks if I can get them back. It’s also important that this is my fourth Major Arcana card (I already have the Tower, Judgement and the Fool in play). I have four “slots,” since I’ve drawn the Chariot once so far on this run. If I put another Major Arcana card into play, the oldest one – the Tower – will go away, which should open things up quite a bit by freeing my original party.
It’s Tuesday as I’m playing this. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, you can take part in the Bug-Catching Contest and potentially catch rare Bug Pokémon, including Pinsir and Scyther, who don’t normally appear in National Park. Whether or not the Bug-Catching Contest is its own “area” for Kingslocke purposes is… open to interpretation? It has very different encounter tables from the standard ones for National Park… but it’s literally the same place! I’m inclined to think that this is all one area, you draw just once, and if you’re offered a Pokémon you can choose to take it from either “version” of the park. But this is one of those place where I’m happy for the rules to mean whatever the player thinks they mean.
This is PokéFan Beverly. She is insufferable.
And completely insane.
This is Lass Krise. She releases her Pokémon instead of storing them in PC boxes when she has more than 6, making her perhaps the only ethical trainer in Johto.
This is School Kid Jack. Jack knows all kinds of stuff about Pokémon’s battle system that the game normally doesn’t tell you explicitly, which makes him a very useful friend for a new player. Back in the day, on Crystal, I learned from Jack that Rollout does double damage if you open with Defence Curl, and that Thunder is 100% accurate during Rain Dance.
Irwin literally just called me to say this and then hung up. I swear to the Helix he’s such a fµ¢£ing weirdo.
One more area before we head back to Goldenrod City and challenge Whitney. We’ve actually been on route 36 before – it’s the route out of Violet City that was blocked by that… “tree.” I didn’t draw a card then, but it’s time to now.
Okay, I’m not going to paste in the full rules for the Kings because we know the drill by now, but here’s the Advanced Rule for the King of Wands.
King of Wands: Once you have drawn the King of Wands, for the rest of the game Pokémon that share a type with the one sent to the Vessel by this card can use TMs/TRs at any time and are not forced to use a TM/TR when you draw a Page. If the King of Wands was the last King you drew, all your Vessel Pokémon, and all other Champions for the rest of the game, can use TMs/TRs at any time.
For the first time, I actually have a choice in who gets sent to the Vessel. Abazigal is out of the question; his Dragon Rage is going to carry me through the Goldenrod Gym – and anyway, the King of Wands’ bonus is based on shared types, and the only other Dragon-type that’s even in this game is Kingdra. That means it’s between Hannah and Zoltar. I’m only one more King away from triggering my Vessel team, so I need to consider what that team would look like, but I already have both a Poison-type (Nadja) and a Psychic-type (Doc) in there, so that doesn’t resolve anything. On the other hand, with the Magician in play, Hannah’s usefulness is going to come to an abrupt end as soon as she can learn Acid. I think sending her to the Vessel is probably the right move.
As for her replacement… on route 36 I can catch Pidgey, Nidoran, Growlithe or Stantler. Growlithe is tempting as it would be good to have a Fire-type on the roster. Then again… Nidoran is a Poison-type, and would benefit from the King of Wands’ bonus if I send Hannah to the Vessel… and Nidoking happens to be #100 in the Johto Pokédex, so a male Nidoran would eventually be able to benefit from Doc’s bonus with the King of Pentacles as well.
Thank you, Kurt. Moon Balls may not be good for much, but when they work, they work.
William has a destined claim to the throne that rivals Vasya’s, written in the cards just like hers, and is willing to do some conquering to enforce it. It remains unclear what will happen when the two meet face-to-face.
This is School Kid Alan. He’s another nice friend who sometimes gives you things (notably a Fire Stone). It’s possible that, unbeknownst to the player, we are also a character in someone else’s dating sim, and Alan is clumsily (but endearingly) trying to hit on us.
According to this novice florist, we should be able to provoke the “tree” with a watering can. Unfortunately, Floria’s boss back in Goldenrod City is suspicious of the “tree” and doesn’t want anyone unqualified messing with it. She won’t lend her watering can to anyone who hasn’t earned a Plain Badge.
Well, see you later, Hannah… or perhaps sooner, for all I know.
William has no special attacks, but unlike Ekans, Nidoran has a special movepool that isn’t unmitigated garbage, so I am expected to sink some resources into allowing him to comply with the Magician fully. I can stop by the department store to pick up a TM for Blizzard or Thunder. Or…
I swore I’d never go back… I swore his sadistic game would never again have a hold over me… I promised my Pokémon I would be better than that… the explosions… the shrapnel… the distorted, static screeches of enraged Voltorb… oh, but the thrill of it all…
I CAN WALK AWAY ANY TIME; THAT BASTARD MR. GAME HAS NO CLAIM OVER MY SOUL
Because William is a Poison-type, strictly speaking, with Hannah providing the bonus from the King of Wands, I’m allowed to keep going and get him Ice Beam as well, but I think in the spirit of things (and because earning 10,000 coins takes ages) I should stop here.
While I was doing that, Lyra claims her Marill has evolved into Azumarill. Remember this; I’m sure sooner or later we’ll find out whether she’s telling the truth.
Time to check out the Goldenrod Gym… and see whether we get to keep these three for Whitney.
Three – Me: Immediate: You may catch the first wild Pokémon you see in this area, and may teach that Pokémon a TM/TR move of your choice.
Nothing here. The special rule for the Three of Cups also doesn’t do anything if there are no wild Pokémon in the area; as it’s quite an interesting one, I’ll hold onto it for now.
So, William, Zoltar and Abazigal will be my team to challenge the Goldenrod Gym and Whitney!
One step closer to his royal destiny.
Whitney… has a reputation, of course, but I think her bark is worse than her bite. For one thing, she’s actually slightly weaker in Heart Gold and Soul Silver than in the original games; her Pokémon are one level lower, whereas all the other Johto leaders were either unchanged or made stronger. For another… her Miltank’s Rollout is strong, don’t get me wrong, but back in Gold and Silver it was one of the strongest things any Pokémon could reasonably have at this level. If, for instance, you’d spent hours gambling to get a Dratini in OG Silver Version (as I did more than once), you wouldn’t have Dragon Rage until level 22. Drowzee wouldn’t even have Headbutt until level 25 unless you used your TM. There are also very few ways to get a Fighting Pokémon this early in Johto. This is actually still true; if you don’t get Heracross, who is very easy to miss, I think the only option is to trade a Drowzee for a Machop with an NPC in Goldenrod City. Even Fighting attacks are in short supply. Rock Smash isn’t an HM in generation II, and it does only half as much damage; even if you did pick up Heracross, it doesn’t learn a direct-damage Fighting attack until Reversal at level 44. The point is, the power curve of generation II is just lower. The average generation IV party at level 17-20 will have stronger tricks and much more flexibility, while Whitney’s Miltank is still pretty much the same.
Of course, having said all that, I don’t have an average generation IV party. I have the random bull$#!t I’ve cobbled together, restricted to special attacks by the Magician.
Here goes nothing.
Whitney’s Clefairy is traditionally a joke compared to her Miltank; let’s see how it does against the young prince.
Doubleslap was a dumb move from Clefairy against a Pokémon with an ability that triggers on contact.
Mimic is actually not a bad choice here; Clefairy can probably make better use of Thunderbolt than William can.
Whitney will probably heal Clefairy here. That’s fine by me; better Clefairy than Miltank.
A valiant last-ditch Metronome from Clefairy, but to no avail.
Now for the real challenge.
Ugh, that opening crit hurt. I think this is worth healing.
Here comes the Rollout!
Miltank has a Lum Berry, but that paralysis trigger is still really good; it means it’ll be vulnerable if I try to hit it with Zoltar’s Hypnosis or Abazigal’s Thunder Wave. Another Poison Point trigger is also a possibility.
Also, we’re two Rollouts in here; Will should survive the third, but I might need to heal him to tank the fourth, and the fifth might still one-shot him.
Whoo! Okay, that’s fantastic. William is probably going down now even if I heal him again, but he’s successfully tanked an entire Rollout sequence for the party, and poisoned Miltank.
Oh, she has more healing too?
Eh, we’re fine. Dragon Rage too stronk.
Agh, that hurt. I’m switching out.
Damn, the poison didn’t quite finish it. I guess Zoltar just has to cross his fingers.
Well, that sucks, but Abazigal switched out and still gets the experience.
Whitney is new at this whole gym leadering thing and isn’t used to losing, so she throws a tantrum and doesn’t hand over the Plain Badge.
I mean, I get it, but she’s supposed to be in charge here; like, what kind of example is this setting?
That’s a badge. Now, whenever you beat a gym leader in the Kingslocke, you get to free a petrified Pokémon, but if you have more than one, the observer gets to choose. In theory that’s the audience, but… well, I’m writing this several days before it’ll actually go up, and I’d have to end the episode here and then wait until it goes live before I can continue the game, or I could just keep playing and not get my petrified Pokémon back for ages… look, I’m just gonna let Jim the Editor pick.
Is there something you find… wisible about the name of my fwiend… Bweeze?
All right, “tree,” if that’s even your real name… keep your branches where I can see ‘em.
One of the core rules of the Kingslocke is that static encounter Pokémon are always fair game to catch, so we’re going to do our best to nab this thing.
Pretty sure Sudowoodo shouldn’t have a Ground attack, so William should be safe from the Nine of Wands. Breeze, not so much.
oh, god damn it
uh, what’s the calculation on Ultra Ball vs. Heavy Ball here… wait, is Sudowoodo seriously only 38 kg? It’s a tree made of rocks, why- how-…? Well, Ultra Ball it is!
She can prove scientifically that she’s a real tree; she’s got a certificate of authenticity and everything. She took a genetic test and she’s 100% That Beech.
Along with William, That Beech is added to the list of Pokémon I have to use if my other rules allow it. Unfortunately, she’s female and won’t be able to join the party yet.
The good news is, now that we’ve removed that obstacle that was definitely a tree, the disrupted lines of communication between eastern, western and ntorthern Johto are finally restored! People can travel again, see their families again, send letters again!
Such as this letter I stole from Kenya.
Let’s just deliver it to this human…
I don’t think this is how e-mail works, my dude.
Yeah, I stole your friend’s Spearow and I’m not giving her back; sorry about that.
And we are rewarded for our efforts!
…I… I don’t think that’s…
Aww, I missed you too, Wade.
Anyway, let’s keep moving. The holy city of Ecruteak awaits!
The Empress: Immediate: You may immediately revoke the effect of one card in play, and EITHER catch the first Pokémon you see in this area OR free one petrified Pokémon of your choice.
So I’ve got two choices to make here: which rule to lose, and which Pokémon to catch. Let’s remind ourselves of what’s in play.
(The Kings, of course, are immutable once drawn. They aren’t even technically “in play”; I just have them there to remind us all that they’re not in the deck anymore.)
The Tower still has nearly half my roster locked up, so it looks like the obvious choice… but Vasya, Pineapple and Charlotte are all female, and I won’t be able to use them anyway unless I can get rid of the Five of Pentacles as well. Lil’ Toby is also off the table because of Judgement, so the only Pokémon I’d actually get back right away is Hopewell. That’s not nothing… but also, the Tower is my oldest Major Arcana card, and it could get booted out by a new one at practically any moment. The Nine of Wands isn’t a great worry to me at the moment; nor is the Magician. Losing the Five of Pentacles would give me access to Sesame (redundant with Zoltar), Kenya (redundant with Breeze) and That Beech. I have to use That Beech if I can, which would seriously mess with me through Judgement – I’d be forced to switch over to using generation II Pokémon – but fortunately the Fool also wants me to use William, so I’d have grounds for sticking with gen I. There’s… sort of no single card I can get rid of that dramatically improves my situation. Of course, if I get a chance to train up Sesame by even one level, she’ll evolve into Kadabra and be #90 in the Johto ‘dex, which means she’ll get the King of Pentacles’ powerful bonus; that could be important in the future. Kenya is also allowed to evolve, which Breeze can’t at the moment (not without getting stuffed back in the Tower).
Hmm. Yes, yes, the more I think about it, the more I think gender equality is what this team needs. The Five of Pentacles is abolished!
The Empress also lets me catch the first Pokémon I see in the area, or free a petrified Pokémon. I would rather like to free Trixie, but there is the Fool to consider. The Fool, remember, requires me to use as many of my recently-caught Pokémon as I can, but he also has this clause:
In addition, as long as the Fool is in play, whenever another card tells you that you “may” catch a new Pokémon, you must catch one (or at least attempt to, if you are told to catch the first one you see).
Now, I actually wrote this because hardly any cards in the Kingslocke ever tell you that you have to catch a Pokémon, and I didn’t think you should be able to negate the Fool’s effect by just turning down your opportunities to catch things off Twos or Threes. I wasn’t really thinking about the Empress, who offers a capture as one of two possible benefits – but I think this clause should apply here.
This matters because catching a new Pokémon here is actually quite risky. Several of the Pokémon on route 37 are from generation II and would tip the balance between William and That Beech so that the Fool would require me to use generation II Pokémon. Let’s see what we get…
Let’s review. The three Pokémon the Fool now wants me to use are William, That Beech and Deerthing (the next Pokémon I catch or obtain will push William off that list). Because of Judgement, I can’t use all three of them – the best I can do is choose to switch to generation II so I can use two out of three. This, of course, means that all the generation I Pokémon I had in the party previously are now going to get kicked out (even Breeze – Judgement doesn’t actually “ban” anyone in Kingslocke rules language, so the King of Pentacles is powerless to do anything about it).
Which means that the situation is now… this.
I also still have the Magician in play, which sounds like very bad news for That Beech, but it turns out that literally the only special attack Sudowoodo can learn in this game without being specifically bred for it is Hidden Power. I won’t get the Hidden Power TM for some time yet, and even if the Magician is still in play when I do, I might be able to justify using it on someone else instead, so she’s pretty safe from that card. Stantler, on the other hand, has more options if I go back to the Goldenrod Department Store. Thunder and Solarbeam are both on the table… but then again, there’s also…
Don’t you dare pretend to be my friend, you sick bastard. We both know Johto’s better off without men like you who prey on the desperate and vulnerable. I’ll play your game and blow myself up a hundred more times for the amusement of your aristocratic friends… but one day, you’ll find a little something waiting for you in your office, and it’ll be your limbs that get mangled by an exploding Voltorb.
I did know that, Jack, but thank you anyway; that’s very useful information!
That Beech has weaknesses to Grass and Water, which are pretty common, so I’ll have to be pretty careful so she doesn’t get petrified by the Nine of Wands. The only weakness she and Deerthing both share is Fighting, though, and there aren’t a lot of Fighting Pokémon in the early part of this game, so I’m not in much danger of the Nine of Wands “chain-petrifying” both of them.
And we’re in Ecruteak City! That seems like a good place to stop for now.
The good news is, That Beech was already a high level when I caught her, and Deerthing didn’t have much catching up to do.
And here’s the cards! Next time I’m hoping the lifespan of the Tower rule will come to a natural end and free my original team; that should open up a lot more options for me. Of course, there’ll have to be another Major Arcana card replacing it… but I’m sure that will cause no problems whatsoever!