I was thisclose to titling this post “Two Badges, One Bird.” Why?
When we last left Oliver, he was facing quite a conundrum: How could he fix what appeared to be a severe type imbalance on his top line? With Fire, Flying, and Normal duplications and some serious holes (such as Rock-types), was his current crew being set up for failure when times really got tough? With Geosenge Town offering some respite from the chaos, it was time to make some tough calls.
Needless to say, not everyone was happy with the decisions I made…and when one of the calls had to be reversed, a certain firebird unleashed such fury that they darn near burned Shalour City to the ground.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves – how did this all go down?
Designated For Assignment
My closing analysis from the last episode suggested the following changes:
- Symmetra and Amaura (who I finally named Rocko) should be promoted to the big-league club. Mixing in the Fighting, Psychic, Rock, and Ice type would (mostly) address my type imbalance.
- The Pokémon that would be sent down to Triple-A, however, were a bit less clear. I’d been complaining about Reese since I caught her, so shipping her out was an easy decision. The other monster would have to be one of my Fire-types, which meant either Birdo or Nala needed to go. With Nala’s deeper moveset and Amelia’s adequate Flying coverage, the call was for Birdo to take a hike. (This ended up being both the dumbest and smartest decision I could make.)
Of course, neither Symmetra nor Rocko were anywhere near the level of their new teammates, so this episode began with a trek back to Routes 7 and 8 to bring the rookies up to speed (with the Exp. Share turned off, so the veterans didn’t keep gaining experience and getting farther away in the process).
Rocko distinguished himself immediately: His strongest attribute was her Spec. Attack, and his moveset quickly expanded to match it (first Aurora Beam, and then Ancient Power). In no time, he was kicking butts, taking names, and covering for his counterpart’s weaknesses. Symmetra, in contrast, demonstrated about as much utility in battle as her Overwatch namesake (as in very little): Her stats were unimpressive (most notably her HP, which lagged far behind everyone else), her moves were not terribly powerful (she needed three or four hits to KO most everything, making her the equivalent of an Undercover Brella in Splatoon 2 until she learned Force Palm), and everything and their brother seemed to have a move that was super-effective against her (those Absols on Route 8 were particularly annoying, and Zangoose brought the threat of a switch-out Pursuit when it appeared).
In other words: Keeping Rocko was a no-brainer, but Symmetra’s frustrating lack of progress made me consider bringing Birdo back on multiple occasions, type imbalance or not. In the end, however, I decided the sample size was too small, and the real test wouldn’t happen until level parity was achieved.
Ollie vs. Korrina I
After many hours of grinding, Rocko and Symmetra were declared fit for duty, and Ollie finally made his way to…
I had run into Korrina back on Route 5, but didn’t think much about it at the time. Now, however, her Lucarios (well, at least one of them) were chomping at the bit to test my skills, and this time, I was more than happy to oblige. The battle was so memorable that I have no idea who I even sent out to battle (likely one or both of the two newcomers), and I quickly emerged victorious.
On The Road Again
With the clingy Lucario temporarily beaten back, Ollie finally set foot onto Route 11 and starting moving forward again. New routes meant new reinforcements for the bench, of course, so our first task was to dive into the brush and see what new friends awaited us.
I vaguely recalled Sawk from G5, but much like Meditites and Medichams, these never piqued my interest enough to investigate their potential. While I briefly considered the idea of giving this guy Symmetra’s spot and at least having a viable Fighting-type on the roster, after hours of grinding between Sym and Rocko, I wasn’t up for doing it again (at least, not this quickly), so I stuck him on the bench and advised him to avoid Birdo (who had torn up her PC Box and had the rest of my monsters hiding in a corner by this point).
Route 11 was basically over before it started, ending rather abruptly at the entrance to the Reflection Cave. At the time, I just shrugged my shoulders and headed inside—after all, what could be inside the darn thing that could be scarier than my Pokémon? The answer turned out to be “A whole lot more than you think.”
Things started off slow with the obligatory new-area capture:
I wasn’t any more interested in dealing with Mr. Mime (wait, shouldn’t it be “Mrs. Mime” if it’s female?) than I was when I played Pokémon Red, so I caught it, stuffed it in a Box, and made a point to tell it to introduce itself to Birdo (who had moved on to destroying the entire PC server like a piece of malware by this point).
The cave itself was a lot more expansive and scary/frustrating than I remembered, and it took a while to scour and find the exit. Two incidents in particular stood out:
The Near-Death Experience
By about the halfway point of the cave, I had seen most of what the local wildlife had to offer, and it wasn’t terribly interesting or scary…until I ran into this jerk:
Apparently Wobbuffets are so notorious for ruining Nuzlocke runs that some players include clauses that allow them to ignore the results of encountering them. Why are they so dangerous?
- They have Counter, so any physical damage you deal it can be doubled and returned to you.
- They have Mirror Coat, so any special damage you deal it can be doubled and returned to you.
- They have Destiny Bond, which mean if it dies, so does your monster.
- Their Ability in Shadow Tag, which prevents you from switching or running away.
Worst of all, I had Symmetra at the front of my party at the time, which meant that I could barely damage the darn thing anyway. (My best offensive option was Hidden Power, which by sheer luck was a Dragon-type move in Sym’s case.)
After one round in which Symmetra barely survived a Mirror Coat, I stared at the screen for several minutes wondering what to do. I hadn’t put any Wobbuffet clauses in my game, and I didn’t have any coins on hand to flip—should I impose a clause now, or was it too late (or was it a cop-out)? As annoying as I had found Symmetra earlier, I really didn’t want to lose her now after all that time I’d spent training her. What do I do?
Believe it or not, I actually tried throwing a few Poké Balls at Wobbuffet at first, seeing if I could catch it, circumvent this whole question, and stick it next to my Snorlax in the “can’t use” pile. When that failed, I sighed, steeled myself for the inevitable, and started attacking.
This, however, was when Symmetra’s luck finally started to turn. Wobbuffet never guessed correctly for the rest of the match, while Symmetra’s attacks were critical hits more often than not. In the end, she brought the big blue monster down and exited the battle a changed woman, ready to take on whatever stepped into her path.
While Sym had found confidence, I had completely lost mine, and I spent the rest of the cave burning the Repels that Thumper had picked up to make sure we were never put into that situation again.
The Actual Death Experience
Repels, however, don’t work against other Trainers, and near the end of the cave, I stumbled into a battle with an Ace Trainer with an Absol and a Pinsir in his pocket. The Absol was no big deal, and when Pinsir was announced, I thought, Pfft, a bug? I’ll let Rocko ice this deadbeat.
What I neglected to consider:
- Pinsirs are also part Fighting-type.
- By Lv. 25, Pinsirs know Brick Break.
- Amauras are Rock/Ice, which means they have a 4x weakness to Fighting-type moves.
One STAB Brick Break later…
So after almost losing all that time and effort I put into Symmetra, I actually lost all the time and effort I put into Rocko?! I was not happy, and I let Nala turn that Pinsir into a pile of ashes in response.
Needless to say, I was more than happy to bid this cave farewell, because I didn’t like the reflection I was seeing.
The Bird’s The Word
I don’t remember a whole lot about arriving in Shalour City. I kind of recall Tierno and Trevor showing up, and I remember being told that both the Gym Leader and the nameless Mega Evolution guru were waiting in the Tower Of Mastery. What I do remember is the email I received from a panicked IT person begging me to take Birdo out of my Box before it destroyed the entire Kalosian network and sent the whole region back to the stone age. Rocko’s untimely demise meant I now had an open roster spot, and there was no way in heck that I was going to let Reese fill it. Birdo was back, and she was not about to let herself be benched again.
Once the band was back together, the Mega Evolution guru dropped the bad news: Yes, he knew the secret to mega evolving Pokémon, but no, he didn’t have enough magical MacGuffins to go around. For some unknown reason, Serena decided that this was the hill she wanted to die on, and finally stepped up to challenge me in battle.
Birdo proceeded to lay waste to Serena’s entire party without so much as breaking a sweat, declaring that she wanted her No. 2 slot behind Patty back.
Nala, who had inherited Birdo’s No.2 slot and was not keen on giving it up, countered by learning Flamethrower and proclaiming her Fire-type dominance. Birdo laughed off the move and declared “This isn’t even my final form”…
Ollie vs. Korrina II: Feel The Burn
By this point, Korrina was rattled enough that she scurried back to her Gym and tried to hide behind her army of rollerblading Trainers. Birdo was having none of this, and destroyed every Pokémon from every last Trainer in the gym singlehandedly, declaring that either Korrina would face her in combat or she would burn the entire city to the ground. The rematch was on.
Birdo steamrolled Korrina’s opening Mienfoo, and looked primed for a clean sweep of the entire Gym. Korrina’s Machoke, however, had other plans:
- As we noted in earlier episodes, Rock-type moves really mess up Fire/Flying Pokémon like Birdo.
- Machoke had Rock Tomb in his back pocket, and he came out swinging with it on the first turn.
Birdo’s health redlined, and she collasped in Ollie’s arms, unwilling to concede but no longer viable to leave in the ring. As she gasped for air, Ollie stroked the bird’s feathers and passed along some hard-earned wisdom from hundreds of 3v4 Turf Wars: No battle can be won by yourself. To achieve victory, you must first have trustworthy teammates.
A switch to Symmetra and a stern Confusion brought Machoke to his knees, and Amelia cleaned up the Hawlucha behind him. Victory was mine.
Ollie vs. Korrina III: Battle Of The Banned
The Rumble Badge was now mine, but Korrina wasn’t ready to turn over the Mega Evolution bracelet just yet. Instead, I had to return to the Tower of Mastery and climb all the way to the top to be in compliance with the usual rules and regulations.
Once the ceremony was complete, the Lucario that had become smitten with Ollie decided to join forces with me and battle against his former Trainer. While this match didn’t exactly fit my Nuzlocke run, it appeared to be my only option, so I decided to roll with the punches.
The battle ended up as little more than a formality: Both Lucarios mega evolved, both Lucarios did roughly the same amount of damage to each other, and Ollie scored a Round 2 TKO because his Lucario was a little faster.
After three consecutive victories, Ollie’s Lucario decided he needed to change teams if he wanted to win a championship, so Korrina offered to give it to me. Lucario would make a great addition to the team…but the problem is that I know this because I let it join my team in Pokémon Y, so it was ineligible for use in my Nuzlocke run. I gave it a space next to Snorlax in my PC box, and bid farewell to Korrina and Shalour City.
Outside of requiring Surf to get across it, Route 12 was nothing to write home about. I caught my requisite bench warmer…
With this out of the way, Ollie quickly made his way to Coumarine City, where the seas are calm and the monorail is the only way to reach anything useful in town. As I arrived, however, my suddenly-omnipresent rival reached out for a chance at revenge.
After a brief rest at the Pokémon Center, I made my way over to the CoumarineGym/cave, where Serena was waiting for our rematch. Thinking back to my formula for success at the Shalour Gym, I channeled my inner Earl Weaver and platooned my Pokémon based on the matchup: Lead off with Birdo to KO Meowstic, let Symmetra Force Palm Absol to death, and bring in Amelia (“The Closer”? Wait, that’s Kevin Harvick’s nickname) to shut down Quilladin. Pitching, defense, and the three-run Ember: That’s how we roll!
Since I was already at the gym’s doorstep, I decided to step inside and challenge Ramos for the Plant Badge to wrap up this week’s episode. This gym ended up being no tougher than Korrina’s crew, but at least Birdo let a few other Pokémon get in on the fun (even Patty snuck into a few matches despite her type disadvantage). I climbed the tower in no time at all, and demanded an audience from the old geezer waiting at the top.
Rinse, Lather, Repeat
Ollie’s battle with Ramos features all the same characters as the fight with Korrina, but with all of the suspense drained out. Doubling down on Fire- and Flying-types meant Grass-types had absolutely no chance against my top line.
You know the routine by now: Open with Birdo to toast Jumpluff (which I consider a criminally-underrated Pokémon, even with its severe Ice weakness), swap to Symmetra to wipe out Weepinbell, and bring Amelia out of the bullpen to grind Gogoat into dust. Nothing like a 1-2-3 inning to close out a day!
I’m honestly not sure what to make out this Nuzlocke run so far. I haven’t really faced a credible threat to the run yet (outside of maybe that Wobbuffet), but I’ve still managed to lose two good Pokémon via simple boneheaded decision making. Given all the 6/10 scores I’ve been handing out to songs lately, it makes sense that the score fits here as well: Okay, but not exactly good.
With Birdo looking strong and Symmetra finally starting to pull her weight, I don’t plan on making any more major changes to the lineup right now, but I’m definitely considering turning off the Exp. Share (although it’s been really helpful by reducing my grinding time). I’d like to add another Grass- and Ice-type to the roster for extra depth, but if Birdo keeps dominating like she’s a Moltres, it’s a moot point. (Also, I need to find a good nickname for someone in the party soon.)
Tune in next week, when we make our triumphant return to Lumiose City and figure out if we’ll be heading north or east next!