Right. Now what?
Team Rocket’s defeated, so it’s time to set a course for the final gym in Blackthorn City – which means travelling along route 44 and drawing another card!
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 Cups: As many as possible of the new moves you teach while resolving this card’s effect must be special attacks.
Yeah, all right. I mean… not great, obviously; most (…all?) of the special attack TMs I can lay my hands on will be moves that are too powerful to slip under Temperance. But yeah, between the Department Store, the TMs I have on hand and that bastard Mr. Game, I can pretty easily get my hands on… let’s see…
- Ice Beam for Effie (after all, her Hidden Power was Ice-type in her first incarnation)
- Another Ice Beam for Eleanor
- Thunderbolt for Orbius
- Sesame is tricky; my first thought was obviously Focus Blast, but it turns out Kadabra can’t learn that, only Alakazam. As bizarre as it sounds to not be able to find a special attack for a Kadabra, he might be the one I have to admit defeat on. I guess I’ll just give him something dumb like… eh, I guess Attract is fine; I’m mostly just annoyed that I’ll have to overwrite Reflect or Recover for it.
- And, uh… So…lar…beam…? For Explodia? I guess???
- Madame Mirror, of course, cannot learn any moves at all – special or otherwise.
Unfortunately, it was while figuring all this out that I realised I actually have a couple of rule mistakes in this team. Eleanor and Sesame were on the team before we switched from all-male to all-female because so many of my male compulsory Pokémon are banned by other cards that I had two free spaces; then when Eleanor came out I just assumed she’d be able to stay on the all-female team, and Sesame stayed because he can’t be banned by the Six of Wands. But actually, both of them should have yielded their places, because I have more Pokémon that Justice wants me to use – namely, Dandy the Jumpluff and Yolquelin the Exeggcute. Both of them are Grass-types, which should be banned by the Four of Swords, but also have types that are favoured by the Four of Swords, so it cancels out.
Look, it was late and I was in a bad mood, okay? Sometimes this ridiculous bull$#!t even gets away from me sometimes.
This is Fisherman Wilton.
Wilton is full of $#!t.
This is Bird Keeper Vance, whose thing is that he’s interested in legendary bird Pokémon.
Explodia has achieved her true, final and explodiest form. Now a Steel-type, she can use STAB moves in spite of the Four of Swords (that includes both Steel- and Bug-type STAB moves).
…y’know, I hate to do it so soon after drawing that Page, but I think Solarbeam is probably the least useful move we’ve got; it’s locked by Temperance, and even once that’s gone it’ll still be kind of a bad move.
Here’s the Ice Path – next stop, Blackthorn City!
…yeah. Yeah that’s fair.
King – Vessel: Immediate: Choose and box one member of your current team; you may catch a Pokémon of your choice from the current area to replace it OR free a petrified Pokémon of your choice. The boxed team member is placed in the Vessel and cannot be returned to your active party. The Kings are removed from the game after they are drawn; they do not remain in play or return to the deck, and their effects cannot be revoked by other cards. If there are ever four Pokémon in the Vessel, those Pokémon are freed. All four of them become Champions and are compulsory until you either earn your next badge (or complete your next Trial, in Alola) or defeat the Elite Four. All other Pokémon are banned during that time, even other Champions. Afterwards, your Vessel Pokémon remain compulsory, but they are no longer Champions, you may use other Pokémon as well, and these effects can now be removed by anything that can revoke a card effect.
King of Swords: Once you have drawn the King of Swords, for the rest of the game Pokémon who are a lower level than the one sent to the Vessel by this card (at the time it was sent to the Vessel) are Champions. If the King of Swords was the last King you drew, your Vessel Pokémon keep their Champion status for as long as they are compulsory.
…okay, first things first. A Pokémon of my choice from the Ice Path. There are a couple of potentially interesting Pokémon here, but I think the one I’d like is…
Not that we’ll be able to use Gunnhildr – because we are now entering a new phase of the game.
I must choose one Pokémon from my party of six to join the three already in the Vessel: Nadja the Zubat, Doc the Slowpoke and Hannah the Ekans. These four will become my new team and have complete freedom as Champions, disregarding all the other cards I have in play until I defeat the final gym leader, Clair. However, I will only be able to use those four Pokémon: the remaining two slots in my party will have to stay empty (again, until I beat Clair). After that, they’ll stay compulsory (along with all the other compulsory Pokémon I have) until I draw some other card that can revoke the rule, like the Empress or the Tower. In the Advanced Rules, each of the four Kings has a special bonus that only applies when he’s the last King you find: in the case of the King of Swords, the Vessel squad will keep their Champion status for a while longer after my next milestone (I might even be able to take four Champions to the Elite Four).
Just like the other three Kings, the King of Swords also has a royal blessing to confer on my other Pokémon, and in this case, it’s a bit of a weird one and I’m not sure whether I like it; it might be different in the final version. Whatever the level is of the Pokémon sent to the Vessel by the King of Swords, all lower-level Pokémon will always be Champions from this point on. The idea here is that this gives you a very strong benefit in the short term, but later on just serves as a “floor” that you’re always free to raise your back-benchers up to, whenever you feel like it. In this case, by the time I’ve beaten Clair and I’m allowed to use other Pokémon again, team members in their low 30s probably won’t be all that strong even if they are Champions, but it’ll be nice if I just want to share my experience around a bit.
ANYWAY. Who shall join as the final Vessel Pokémon? Who shall ascend under the royal patronage of the King of Swords? Shall it be Effie, the letter F reincarnated as a tadpole? Orbius, who has already done over one orbillion damage to my enemies? Madame Mirror, the mistress of misdirection? Explodia, the living time bomb? Dandy, a drifting flower in pursuit of justice? Or Yolquelin, who is… an egg?
If I just go on the principle of minimising type redundancies, that eliminates everyone except for Explodia and Orbius… hmm…
Y’know, much as it would be fun to orb all over those guys, I think Explodia is likely to be more useful.
We can train as we move through the Ice Path.
A couple of long-delayed evolutions…
Ice Path is big enough that I think it’s probably worth two cards, even though I’m pretty sure the encounter tables are the same throughout and there are no trainers here. It’s another… open-to-interpretation one. But if I’m going to take two draws, this downstairs part seems like the place to do it. Almost anything I could draw would be largely moot while I’m using my Vessel team, but we still have to keep track anyway.
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.
…okay, almost anything I could draw would be largely moot, but this is actually really good. The question is, do I want the extra TMs? Hmm. Well… actually, Hannah and Nadja are Poison-types, so the King of Wands lets both of them use TMs any time, and I don’t have many good options for Explodia. I think I’ll just catch a Swinub and teach Doc… something…
…Slowpoke can learn Flamethrower??? Oh, hell yeah.
If the Fool is still in play once I have the Rising Badge, Pork Pie will be added to the list of Pokémon he wants me to use, along with Effie and Madame Mirror. For now, though, he’s strictly on the sidelines.
Ah, yes, an old Pokémon classic – the roll-the-boulders-down-the-holes puzzle.
And sliding icy floor puzzles, another staple… oh, but who’s this?
how do you even get yourselves into these situations
Shoving someone from behind while their shoes are frozen to the ground sounds really dangerous, honestly; like, if their body falls forward and their feet can’t move, you could really hurt their ankles. And those are dancing ankles! A Kimono Girl’s ankles are insured for billions of yen!
Ahhhh, at last: Blackthorn City, ancient home of the first Dragon tamers.
Even with four Champions, I don’t think we’re ready to take on the Blackthorn Gym yet; our levels are just too low. Hannah, Nadja and Doc will at least need to catch up to Explodia. We can look around a bit more first.
Route 45 leads, eventually, back south to New Bark Town; it’s also the exit to that deeper area of Dark Cave that I couldn’t fully explore a couple of episodes ago. Again, it doesn’t matter that much what we draw here, but let’s see…
The Tower: Ongoing: Every Pokémon that was in your active party when you drew this card is banned.
Immediate: Revoke the effects of all other cards currently in play. Only petrified Pokémon and Pokémon in the Vessel remain unusable.
I mean, technically…
So, obviously my four Champions don’t actually care about the Tower, because the Kings overrule everything else… But I think the Tower does still blow up all my other cards. Hmm. This might be a card that should get a clause like “if you draw this while using a Vessel party, ignore it and draw another,” same as the Devil has. Possibly need to add some clarification on how it works with Pokémon that are currently Champions at the moment you draw it; I’m sure someone’s asked me about that before. But yeah, with the rules as they stand in the current version, I think this wipes the slate clean.
Oh, hey, that means the Moon is gone! I’ve been wanting to look up the fine details of how the Johto Safari Zone works for over a week now so I can decide how many cards to draw for it and whether there’s anything there worth catching! I’ll just poke around this route for a bit first, then Nadja can Fly us over.
This is Black Belt Kenji. He lives out here training and hasn’t seen another human in about seventeen years.
This is Hiker Parry. What is even his deal?
Booyah; now we’re talking. Fun fact: starting in generation IV, Golbat can learn Fly, but in generation III and earlier (for instance, in the original Gold and Silver), only Crobat could.
Let’s zip over to the Safari Zone.
The Johto Safari Zone is… complicated. Once you’ve shown Baoba that you can handle the vast responsibility, he’ll allow you to remodel the Safari Zone. Each of its six areas can be reconfigured to any of twelve different biomes, each with its own default encounter list. Once you get to the very end of the game, you unlock even more customisation options for the Safari Zone that can potentially bring in a range of Pokémon from Hoenn and Sinnoh that don’t appear in the wild anywhere in Johto or Kanto, but we don’t have to worry about any of that for now. Most of the Pokémon that can appear in the Safari Zone at this point are species that we could have found elsewhere in Johto by now, but there are a few that normally only live in Kanto, like Kangaskhan and Murkrow.
The question is… how many cards do you draw for this?
In the past, I’ve ruled that each of the four areas of the Kanto Safari Zone and six areas of the Sinnoh Great Marsh are separate “areas” for Kingslocke purposes, because they all have separate encounter tables (and, more to the point, each section may have Pokémon you don’t want to miss that can’t be found anywhere else). The Johto Safari Zone has twelve different areas… but they aren’t all in play at once… but you can choose which ones are in play…
I can see a few ways you could handle this.
- Draw just one card for the whole Safari Zone. If you’re given a chance to catch a Pokémon, take it from any area you like. This could get extremely wild if you happen to draw Justice or a Queen.
- Draw two cards – one before taking Baoba’s tests, for whatever default layout of biomes you got in your game, and one after, for any layout you want to build.
- Draw six cards, for any combination of six biomes you like.
- Draw six cards, for six randomly chosen biomes.
- Draw twelve cards, one for each biome, then swap areas in and out until you’ve visited every one that gives you a chance to catch a Pokémon.
And, well, we did just draw the Tower, so I think I should try to get some new rules in play so it’ll be nice and crazy again once my Vessel Pokémon have achieved their grand destiny. I’m gonna go with six draws for six random biomes. Let’s roll some dice; uh… google 6d12 and reroll until there are no doubles…
So… wetland, desert, marshland, savannah, mountain, plains, in that order.
And we’re drawing…
The Ace of Pentacles is the version of the Waterfall rule that makes you pay extra when you switch up your party order (not that anyone in my party cares). The Four of Cups is the good old “no STAB moves” bastard one; the Cups version exempts Water, Poison, Ghost and Fairy Pokémon but bans Fire, Electric, Bug, Dragon and Dark Pokémon. It also lets me catch the first Pokémon I see in the… let’s see… desert area that doesn’t share a type with anyone in my party.
The Five of Pentacles is the version of the males-only rule that petrifies two female Pokémon and makes a male Pokémon a Champion, which is moot right now, but it also lets me catch a male Pokémon in the… marshland…
Yeah, sure, I’ll take one of you.
Now for the Wheel… the Wheel of Fortune asks you to roll a die to pick one of six rules at random, and I got… oh. 6. That’s kinda disappointing.
For EACH non-compulsory Pokémon on your team when you draw this card, search your PC for a Pokémon whose nickname starts with the same letter and who is not currently banned, petrified, sealed or in the Vessel. If you find one, that Pokémon becomes compulsory and a Champion (if you find two or more matches for a single party Pokémon, choose one), and the original Pokémon is banned.
All the other rules would hang around and still be in play after my next badge, but not this one (Vessel Pokémon are all compulsory). It’s a shame; this rule is new in the third edition and I was kinda hoping we’d get to see how it played. Ah, well. Next one.
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.
I’m just gonna get rid of the Tower so I don’t have to think about whether it will have any effect after my Vessel Pokémon stop being Champions. And a Pokémon from the mountain zone, which will be….
oh, hell yeah
Finally, the Six of Swords displaces the Five of Pentacles, bans male and gender-neutral Pokémon, and lets me catch a female Pokémon in the plains area. I think there’s only one species there that isn’t a duplicate…
Not exactly anyone’s top pick, but always an interesting one.
Now… where were we?
The High Priestess: Ongoing: You may not use healing items either in or out of battle. This includes status healing, revival and PP restoring items.
oyyyy, that one’s going to sting later. But that’s a future Chris problem.
Eh, I was kinda hoping to get a Slowking, but the patch for the trade evolutions changes Slowking to need a Water Stone, none of my worthless servitors have managed to find me one of those yet, and I don’t think I can afford to wait. Going into the fight with Clair without any restrictions is nice, but it’s not so strong I’m prepared to do it with a Slowpoke.
Here goes nothing.
Clair in original recipe Gold and Silver has three Dragonair – one with Surf, one with Thunderbolt, one with Ice Beam – and her Kingdra. My memory is that in Crystal, she swaps out the first Dragonair for a Gyarados, but Bulbapedia records that she only has the Gyarados in the remakes, so my brain may be playing tricks on me. Dragonair, once you’re up in the high 30s and packing fully-evolved Pokémon, are not super threatening; Gyarados and Kingdra… are a little more so.
When they’re bigger than you, be a dick about it and use subterfuge.
It also helps that Gyarados seems to think (probably wrongly?) that it doesn’t have a better move against Nadja than Dragon Rage, and she can easily heal through that.
One for one; off to a good start.
…ah. Whoops. Kinda thought that was going to be the other one.
Well, she wasn’t going to be all that useful against Kingdra anyway.
Dragonair usually doesn’t stay asleep for very long because of Shed Skin, but I’m hoping this will buy me at least one turn.
Good news: it did buy me one turn. Bad news: Dragonair’s Thunder Wave bought it two turns in a row.
We’ll just have to be more direct about this.
Clair got lucky at first with the paralysis and the Dragon Pulse crit, but Dragonair is just weaker than Slowbro in a toe-to-toe fight.
yeah, yeah that makes sense
paralysis has always been 50% to miss your turn; I don’t know what you’re talking about
Is fine. Just keep healing.
Clair’s Kingdra is legitimately terrifying; it’s the highest-level Pokémon you’ve faced so far, or will face at any point before the Elite Four, and because this is pre-Fairy-types, it only has one weakness. That weakness is Dragon attacks, and the only Dragon Pokémon you’re likely to have at this point is Dragonair, who is thoroughly outclassed by Kingdra.
SEE? 50%! HAH!
Oh, nice. I didn’t expect Hannah to beat Kingdra alone, but paralysing it is good, and scoring a defence drop from Crunch is even better.
Of course, the trouble now is, Nadja’s already looking pretty fµ¢£ed up and I have to spend my turn healing her to even have a chance.
50. PER. CENT.
Back to basics: when they’re bigger than you, be a dick about it.
The trouble now is, Clair might have some more healing she’s been saving for Kingdra, and a Full Restore would be really bad news for me right now.
…unless we do that? Hey, I’m not above taking a win from a lucky crit; this whole ridiculous challenge is about having Fate on your side.
Unlike practically every other gym leader in Pokémon history, Clair is not willing to hand over her badge after losing a battle and proposes an additional test. This presents an interesting ethical question. The wording of the King’s Vessel rule is as follows:
All four of [your Vessel Pokémon] become Champions and are compulsory until you either earn your next badge (or complete your next Trial, in Alola) or defeat the Elite Four. All other Pokémon are banned during that time, even other Champions.
“…until you… earn your next badge…” The question is, have I now done that? Clair certainly doesn’t think so, and I don’t have the Rising Badge. But I think you could also argue that the player has earned it, and that Clair’s refusal to recognise that fact changes nothing. Just to avoid having to think about what it really means to “earn” a badge (e.g. if you somehow get a level 100 Mewtwo into your game and beat a gym leader that way, have you really “earned” it?) I’m going to come down on the side of “you need to actually have the badge,” but let the record show that I consider this a grey area.
What is not a grey area is that you get a petrified Pokémon back for winning a battle against a gym leader, and as usual I’ll be taking that decision to Jim the Editor.
Anyway, off to the Dragon’s Den.
And our card is…
Oh good; you again. Well, if we catch any Pokémon between here and the Pokémon League, this is going to make things… interesting. Anyway, moving on.
The Dragon’s Den in OG Gold and Silver kinda feels unfinished; it’s just a cave with some water and a building with no doors. Clair sends you here to retrieve a Dragon Fang, but the only real test is that you have to be able to use Surf and Whirlpool to navigate the cave. All you have to do is find the Fang, and she grudgingly gives you the Rising Badge. Crystal added a bunch of Dragon-type trainers to the area, as well as a slightly more story-appropriate test.
listen, I only came here because your boss made me; take it up with her
ugh, I’m going to have to lose one of Doc’s actually good moves to get past this whirlpool… I guess I could give up Yawn, then delete Whirlpool later so he can learn Slack Off at 41. Yeah, that’s probably the way to go.
Now for the test.
All we have to do is answer this groovy old guy’s questions.
uh… where’s the option for “living weapons of mass destruction”…?
…to be honest, mostly Fate?
Trainer? No, groovy old guy, you don’t get it; I’m purely in this to attack and dethrone God.
A fµ¢£in’ litterbox, man; have you seen what comes out the other end of these things after a big meal?
What kind of operation do you even think I’m running here? I don’t get to choose!
Well, the groovy old guy is satisfied and gives the player his seal of approval (if you give $#!tty answers to his questions, he just kinda pretends not to hear you and lets you answer again, but the reward you get later won’t be as good).
Clair is not satisfied, but what’s she going to do about it? She took the matter to a higher authority, and the higher authority says I’m great!
It’s honestly kind of impressive that Clair has managed to become a decorated gym leader but doesn’t know enough about Pokémon training to pass the groovy old guy’s test. She must have given some catastrophically evil-sounding answers.
Clair apparently feels appropriately chastened by the groovy old guy’s words and apologises on the way out, giving us the gift of a Dragon Pulse TM and directions to the Pokémon League.
As we leave the Dragon’s Den, Professor Elm calls to let us know he has something cool for us – but I think I’ll leave him in suspense; we’ve come far enough today. Let’s just handle the remaining paperwork…
If you leave the Dragon’s Den after completing the trial and come back, the groovy old guy has a special reward for you: a Dratini. If you got all his questions right, that Dratini will know Extremespeed, which it can’t normally learn.
Now… we’ve got that badge! Normally this would mean that my four Vessel Pokémon lose their Champion status but remain compulsory (so I’d still have to try to use them, but other cards could get in the way). However, the King of Swords has the special rule that, if he’s the last King you draw, your Vessel Pokémon remain Champions for as long as they remain compulsory (probably until the next time we draw the Tower, the World or a Ten). In short: Hanna, Nadja, Doc and Explodia are probably staying with us a while longer. But, crucially, I’m allowed to fill my last two party slots now!
Explodia’s bonus from the King of Swords means that all my Pokémon are Champions until they hit the level she was at when I put her in the Vessel, which is 31 (although I think I should add a clause specifying that Pokémon who were already petrified will stay petrified until something frees them). I’ll probably take advantage of that bonus between episodes to train some of them up to 30, but if I’m going to keep moving, I’ll need to pick Pokémon who will be allowed to actually stay in the party at level 31 and higher. With the Six of Swords and Four of Cups in play, that means female Pokémon that are not Fire-, Electric-, Bug-, Dragon- or Dark-types.
Let’s just stash the Pokémon who are banned by virtue of their type (or will be once they hit level 31) in here…
…and the remaining male and genderless Pokémon in here…
(note: Mothball is in this box and not the other because he’s also a Poison-type, which is favoured by the suit of Cups; Antares, of course, is here in solidarity with her husband)
Which means the usable Pokémon are these ones. Sesame, of course, is here because the King of Pentacles makes him unbannable – although that will end if he evolves into Alakazam, which he will fairly soon if I let him. Of special note are the Pokémon at the top, who can ignore the Four of Cups’ restriction on STAB moves, either because their types are favoured (Water, Poison, Ghost or Fairy) or because they’re in the Flying egg group and get Nadja’s bonus from the King of Cups.
But there is one more thing to consider…
Mothball, Antares, Barkley and Zill will all have regional Pokédex numbers ending in 0 if they evolve, which will mean they get the King of Pentacles’ bonus and become unbannable (just as Sesame will lose the bonus if he evolves). All my Pokémon are Champions until they hit level 31, which means I can take them out and train them. I don’t know if I want to evolve Antares or Barkley before level 31, because their move lists will get much shorter, and anyway I don’t have a Water Stone for Antares, but there’s nothing in the way for Mothball or Zill. They’ll still have their STAB moves locked, so they might not be my best options, but it’ll be good to have them on the table going forward.
I probably didn’t need to explain all of that, but let’s be honest, if you’ve made it this far you’re probably the kind of weirdo who likes it, and some of it might turn out to be relevant later.
I think my plan – bearing in mind that plans can be disrupted – is going to look like this:
It’s well past time for the true queen to have her share of the glory.