Last time I left off, I was preparing to storm Team Rocket’s Mahogany Town lair with your friend and mine, Lance the Dragon Master. Let’s get to it!
Ordered to use Hyper Beam, Dragonite just ruthlessly beats the $#!t out of this dude. Eh, I assume he probably deserved it.
The Moon: Ongoing: You may not check information from any reference resources outside the game (e.g. for encounter rates, Pokémon base stats, move lists, area maps or trainer data). If you are already playing a game blind anyway, ignore this card and draw another.
Time to find out how good my memory of this game is…
More importantly, my Major Arcana slots are full – so the Moon kicks out my oldest one, which is the Fool.
Six – Chicks: Ongoing: Your male Pokémon are banned (unless you have no female or genderless Pokémon). This rule is revoked if you draw a Five/Guys and cancels out if you draw another Six.
Immediate: You may catch the first female wild Pokémon you see in this area.
Six of Swords: Your genderless Pokémon are also banned.
Hmm… well, that sort of puts the kibosh on Big Red, unfortunately… and Long John Ruby and Antares… and Ampere… and Pikobalt…
So I think we’re once again going to have to fall back on our three Pokémon who, thanks to the King of Pentacles, can’t be banned: Sesame, Paradise and Killgore. Sesame can only use Drain Punch thanks to Strength, and Paradise is locked out of Fly thanks to Temperance, but they’re better than nothing.
The first floor of the base is full of these Persian statues (statues of the Pokémon Persian, not statues created in pre-modern Iran (…obviously)). The red eyes are cameras.
Every time you pass a camera, these same two dip$#!ts turn up and fail to do something about you.
Defeat this moron, and he’ll reveal that you can turn the cameras off – on the other hand, you could just leave them on; the Rocket grunts are no real obstacle and we all want those sweet XPs.
The Six of Swords also allows me to catch the first female Pokémon I encounter in the area. Generally you wouldn’t expect to see wild Pokémon in a place like this, but this “trapped” zone is filled with hidden wild Pokémon. I don’t remember exactly which species you can find here, and with the Moon in play I’m not allowed to check. I’m pretty sure the genderless Voltorb is among them, but I think there are some other potentially self-destructive Pokémon I might be able to catch – Koffing or Geodude, maybe?
Here’s the stairs down to the second floor.
There are three floors to this base, and it definitely merits at least two draws, but I’m not sure it should get three. Hmm. This middle floor only has two trainers now, but I think technically some of the other stuff later is also on this floor, and we’ll come back here at the end for the final battle in this hideout… ehhhhhh… you know what, it’s close but I’ll say it’s one draw per floor, so two cards now, two more very soon.
Seven of Wands: Draw seven more cards and choose three to follow the rules for; shuffle the rest back into the deck. If you draw any Kings, they must be among the cards you choose.
…oh boy. Well, my experience with the Seven of Wands in my earlier tests suggests that it’s usually very good if you have a lot of cards in play already. We should also note that the effect of the Seven of Pentacles ends when you draw another Seven, so we’ll be back to drawing cards one at a time from now on. Let’s deal with the Six first, and then the extra cards.
We already have a Six in play, so the main effect cancels; we just have to address the Advanced effect of the Six of Wands.
Six of Wands: When you draw this card, roll a 6-sided die to randomly choose one of your Pokémon to identify as female for the rest of the game (if you roll a Pokémon that is already female or has already changed gender in the past, reroll, unless there are no eligible Pokémon in your party). All cards and rules permanently treat that Pokémon as female, even after this card leaves play.
I only have two male Pokémon with me right now, and there’s no detransitioning in the current draft of the rules, so Sesame isn’t eligible (maybe a Pokémon should become non-binary or genderfluid if it’s affected by a second Five or Six of Wands?). That leaves my Tauros – who shall henceforth be named in honour of the ox-eyed goddess…
Well, it’s certainly a first; I can’t say I’ve ever had a female Tauros before.
Now for those seven extra draws…
Hmm… well, the Star is always a no-brainer, and there are no wild Pokémon here so the Two of Wands and the Queen of Swords will be duds; if I don’t want anything else to happen I can just pick those. The Magician replaces Strength, and… eh, I don’t think I like it any better. So the question is whether there’s upside in taking a Page… oh, actually, the Page of Pentacles is probably quite good here. So let’s take…
Two – You: Immediate: You may catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area, and may teach one of your party Pokémon (or the new Pokémon) a TM/TR move of your choice.
Two of Wands: If you draw this card in an area with wild Pokémon, you may forfeit your opportunity to catch one. If you do, you may instead teach two more TM/TR moves to Pokémon of your choice.
Page – Never Have I Ever: Immediate: Teach all of your current party Pokémon a new move from a TM or TR (if possible, this must be a move that Pokémon has never known in the past). If some of your Pokémon can’t learn any new moves from the TMs you have, do as many as you can.
Page of Pentacles: If you have at least as many boxed Pokémon (not counting Pokémon in the Vessel) as party Pokémon, you may choose to teach new moves to any six of your boxed Pokémon instead of to your party Pokémon.
Moves for any six of my boxed Pokémon could be really useful further down the road (y’know, in the distant future where I’m allowed to use Pokémon outside the small handful I’ve been cycling since route 41). I’m a little short on cash for TMs from the Department Store, but I have about 30k prize coins from my crippling Voltorb Flip addiction. So let’s say…
Thunderbolt for Antares and Ice Beam for 🌟’s husband, Shadow Claw for Pineapple, uh… I’d like to get Vasya something (she is our rightful queen), but Chikorita’s movepool is so bad… I guess I could just give her Hidden Power, but… eh, no, Hidden Power is terrible. Maybe I could put Dig on… That Beech? And Payback on… Suey, yeah, that makes sense, Machop is really slow… I need one more. Ooh, how about Focus Blast on Lavalene? Yeah, I like that. Okay; lock ‘em in! Now for the Star.
The Star: Immediate: You may acquire one new Pokémon of your choice from any area you have already visited using any mechanic available to you.
And I get to catch a new Pokémon, from anywhere. With the Six of Swords gone and the Fool no longer in play, my team is mostly dictated by the Ten of Cups now: everyone is banned except for Water and Electric Pokémon, and I have to prioritise those Pokémon over anyone who can evade bans. My team is likely to include Antares, Long John Ruby, Wendolene, Big Red, Esca and Pikobalt… unless there’s another Water or Electric Pokémon I can find anywhere I’ve already been. The Star is an interesting card in combination with the Moon – I can go looking for anything I want, but I have to actually remember what’s available and where. I could certainly get a Voltorb from the trap zone I just passed, or a Wooper from back by Violet City, or a Poliwag from… well… somewhere. Wait, that one I actually can look up; the in-game Pokédex is perfectly legit, and I’ve seen a Poliwag before. The other question is, do I even want a Pokémon I can use right now? This team may be… lacking in diversity, but it’s got a lot of advantages, and I have my three “fallback” Pokémon if I need them; I don’t need reinforcements urgently. I could just think long-term and catch a Pokémon that’s generically good, like Heracross, or maybe Scyther. Technically I think I’m even allowed to use this as an excuse to “hunt down” Entei or Raikou, although I doubt I’d have much success there. Or…
Arguably a weird choice, but it should be very strong in the long term. Venonat is a Poison-type, so benefits from the King of Wands’ bonus – free TM use – but, more importantly, Venomoth is #110 in the Johto Pokédex, so if Mothball ever evolves, the King of Pentacles will make him unbannable, like Sesame, Hera and Paradise.
Can’t get through here yet.
It’s entirely possible to come to Mahogany Town before even earning your fourth gym badge. You need Surf to fight Big Red and get into the Team Rocket base, but you could still be here first thing after defeating Morty, without ever meeting Jasmine or visiting Cianwood City. Most of the enemies are balanced around that assumption – so they’re pretty easy, even if you’re doing some kind of challenge run and your team and levels are completely all over the place.
Lance has learned that, to access the transmitter room, we need the password to be spoken by Petrel, a Rocket Executive – and to find Petrel, we need more passwords to get into his office. But I have more pressing business to attend to before we can get into any of that…
A Ten! Excitement!
Ten – Rule Card: Immediate: An observer to the game may revoke any or all (or none) of the cards you have in play, AND free any or all (or none) of your petrified Pokémon.
Ongoing: Your observer may either make up a new rule, which becomes the ongoing component of this card, OR change the rules for one other card in play or in the deck (except the Kings).
Ten of Wands: If your observer uses this card to change the rules for a card in the deck, they may force you to search the deck for that card and activate its effect immediately.
Unfortunately I don’t think anyone so far has suggested changing a rule for an existing card, so the Ten of Wands’ special bonus doesn’t do anything for us here. But let’s see which of your rules Jim the Editor thinks I should be saddled with next…
Thank you and congratulations, Irradiated Snivy!
Hmm… well, I have seven Pokémon on the Ten of Cups’ compulsory list, so I don’t think there’s any way I can take advantage of this to bring back Paradise or Hera. Oh well. Now… the Moon has an exception that allows you to look up information you need to comply with other rules, but let’s see what I can remember of my Pokémon’s egg groups on my own…
Azumarill is Fairy and Water 1.
Chinchou is… I think just Water 2.
Gyarados is Water 2 and Dragon.
Flaaffy I’m pretty sure is Field and Monster for some reason.
And I think Tentacool and Staryu are both Water 3, or at least they should be, but I’m not sure about Tentacool… Staryu might be in Mineral as well but I don’t think so.
Whoo! Got ‘em all right! If you struggle with the different Water egg groups: Water 1 is mainly amphibious or aquatic mammals and some reptiles, amphibians or birds; Water 2 is fish; Water 3 is aquatic invertebrates (and Archeops, because Archeops is a hentai-loving jellyfish-fµ¢£er).
So there’s actually only two options for Enmity: Antares/Long John Ruby or Big Red/Esca. And I can’t drive a wedge between John and Antares like this! Their love was written into the fabric of the cosmos before the stars were born! (Also, if they aren’t together, they won’t be able to ignore Strength or Temperance anymore, and they’ll be… really bad)
Esca made a pass at Big Red, there were some mixed signals, he bit her a little too hard, she accidentally zapped him, it was very awkward and now they basically can’t stand to look at each other, so they’re going to spend some time studiously avoiding one another.
Obviously Big Red is much more powerful, but I don’t think I really need that power to take on Team Rocket, and I’d rather level up and maybe evolve Esca, so I’ll keep her with me for now. I can always swap them later. Ampere will join the team once again in Big Red’s place.
Team Rocket really got their claws into Silph Co. back in the Red/Blue era. Several Silph researchers not only sided with them in the takeover (supposedly due to poor working conditions, being passed over for promotions, etc) but, like Scientist Ross here, actually stayed with Team Rocket for the subsequent three years and helped them with their new plan. I guess it’s about love of the evil science.
Fortunately, if you beat a Team Rocket grunt in a Pokémon battle, the unbreakable code of omertà dictates that they have to do whatever you say.
Good thing her personal sense of honour compels her to give the password to anyone stronger than her; otherwise we might have just been stuck here.
This doofus, on the other hand, will give us the other password we need just because he’s a doofus.
Back up to the second floor – we already drew here earlier.
As we should remember from our encounter with That Douchebag in Azalea Town, he’s no fan of Team Rocket – in fact he despises them, because “they act big and tough in a group. But get them alone, and they’re weak.”
Once again, I think we’ve already drawn enough cards to cover this bit.
Today, This Douchebag has more than Team Rocket on his mind. He doesn’t even feel like battling us. He’s just had the $#!t kicked out of him by Lance, who apparently made some comments about what a massive douchebag he is that have struck a nerve. This is the turning point for This Douchebag, which catalyses his eventual growth into Slightly Less of a Douchebag. He’ll have to go away and chew on that experience for a while before he’s ready to work on changing, though.
This is the second of the four Rocket Executives, Petrel. Petrel’s deal is that he does disguises. Honestly I feel like the game gives some mixed messages on whether he’s good at disguises. The dialogue here implies that the player character doesn’t think he looks like Giovanni, even though he absolutely does, or sound like Giovanni, even though it seems unlikely our character would know that. Team Rocket’s later plan in the Radio Tower also kinda hinges on the fact that Petrel is pretty good at impersonating people.
All that stuff is added in the remakes – in the original Gold and Silver, the Executive occupying this office isn’t in disguise, and there’s also no indication that he’s the same character as anyone else we ever meet.
Anyway, we need Petrel’s voice, so let’s beat him up and see if he’ll cooperate.
Not too bad; Koffing’s physical defence is pretty good but Esca’s too clever. We can’t heal her, though, and she’s at risk of petrification if we keep going; I’d better switch.
Oof; Raticate packs a punch… better let Ampere finish this.
There. A little tricky, and the party is a bit ragged, but nothing to worry about; we should have enough left in the tank for a few more battles.
Petrel, unlike his underlings, has no sense of honour and flees rather than help us access the transmitter room.
However, his traitorous Murkrow is able to imitate his voice! This is something else that has been changed from the original game: in Gold and Silver, you just need a password, not a specific person’s voice, but the Executive refuses to give it to you. Hearing Murkrow repeat it once in his office is all you need.
The door is open. But…
Ah-hah! This nefarious Rocket Executive and her minion are here to stop us!
This is Ariana, the third of Heart Gold and Soul Silver’s four Executive characters. Of all the Rocket Executives who appear in the original games, she’s the only one you definitely meet more than once: when you fight her again in the Radio Tower, she uses the same three Pokémon and mentions remembering your previous encounter. She’s also the only female Executive, so her battle sprite is unique in the original games.
honestly, Lance, I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine; like, they only think I can’t fight them two-on-one because their script was written for a game where that was literally impossible.
In the original game, you just fight Ariana here and Lance handles the other guy (because generation II couldn’t do double battles). I think having Ariana’s doubles partner in the remakes be a random grunt is honestly a bit of a weird choice, and kind of a misstep. We don’t know who Lance was fighting here in Gold and Silver, but the Executives in those games have exactly the same overworld sprites as the rank-and-file members, so I always assumed that he was handling the stronger opponent – another Executive, maybe the same one you face at the top of the Radio Tower. Now I learn that he was demolishing this low-level mook with a level 40 Dragonite (illegal, by the way!) while we dealt with the friggin’ capo!?
This is also just a pretty easy fight with Lance on our side – the grunt rarely lasts more than a couple of turns, after which we’re doing to Ariana what she was planning to do to us.
I didn’t even need to be here, really. Seriously, why not have Ariana’s partner be one of the other Executives? Proton and Archer don’t have nearly enough screen time, and this battle is way too easy for what it is.
Anyway, like Ariana says, the Gyarados outbreak proves that Team Rocket’s goals here have been accomplished. They can abandon their HQ without consequence and move to the next phase of their operation.
That leaves us to deal with the Electrode powering the transmitter.
These Electrode are static encounters. That means the Kingslocke rules allow us to catch them – although I think I should only try for one.
I really hope this works… I can’t heal Ampere because of the High Priestess, and she’ll be petrified if she’s knocked out.
Agh, damn it. Let’s put Wendolene in next; she’s a Champion so she can survive being knocked out, and I can even revive her later if need be.
Oof. This… could be going better.
Oh, COME ON.
Phew. Welcome to the team, Orbius – you’ll probably be put on active duty sooner rather than later.
Well, I’m allowed to revive and heal Wendolene, so I’ll let her take care of the other two Electrode; this has been enough of a debacle without risking anyone else.
Some lucky flinches there.
And some lucky paralysis rolls there! I guess Fate feels these Electrode have taken enough from me. Lance expresses some discomfort with having to battle and injure the Electrode, who haven’t actually done anything wrong – I think it might have been nice if you could get some special reward, or even just a word of acknowledgement from Lance, if you captured all three of them instead, as a creative solution to that problem. But it was not to be; ah well.
Well, Team Rocket is beaten and Lance is riding off into the sunset – but not without a few words of encouragement, and the gift of HM05, Whirlpool, which we can use to enter the Whirl Islands once we have Mahogany Town’s gym badge. That gym is the logical next step, but, uh… we need to examine our casualties first.
Antares and Ampere are both petrified. It’s worse than that, though: Antares’ husband, Long John Ruby, is consumed with grief at the loss of his star-spouse and will refuse to go on without ⭐. Until 🌟 is restored, we’ll be losing him as well. I think before I figure out who I can actually use, I should see what card I draw for the Mahogany Gym.
Eight – Mate: Ongoing: The Pokémon in your current party that has spent the most time in your active party over the course of the game is banned.
Eight of Swords: Instead of being banned, your longest-serving party member is petrified. It cannot be freed as long this card is still in play, except by the effect of the Sun (which both frees the Pokémon and revokes this rule).
Well… of the three Pokémon I have left, that’s Pikobalt. Sorry, bud.
So… what do we have for the gym?
I have only two other Pokémon who can match one of Esca’s types – Big Red and Orbius – and Big Red refuses to work with Esca. I kinda think Esca’s Electric type will be more valuable than Big Red’s raw power in this particular gym, so we’ll stick with her for now. Other than that… Riley’s rule on the Ten of Cups is so restrictive that practically the only Pokémon I’m allowed to use are the ones who can ignore it. That means Hera, Sesame and Paradise are coming back (Paradise can’t be banned, so she can go on fighting even while her wife is petrified – although the reverse would not have been true, so there would have been no point in taking advantage of the Nine of Cups’ advanced rule to let Paradise sacrifice herself).
Well, it… could be worse; these levels aren’t too bad, we have a Champion, this gym has a lot of Water-types… a Kadabra who can only use Drain Punch and Headbutt is pretty terrible, but at least it’s a super effective Drain Punch, right?
Of course, the High Priestess and the Nine of Cups are still a pretty brutal combination… but we’ll see how that goes next time.