Pokémon X Nuzlocke Episode #8: Help Wanted, But Is It Needed?

It’s as if Fate is trying to push the limits of Nuzlocke runs: How much death and destruction can someone using a Xerneas come back from in a game like this?

When we last left Ollie, he was reeling from the loss of four members of his top line (although only two were permanent), but he was still feeling pretty confident in his chances of success, thanks to having the most powerful monster on the block in his corner (Bambi “The Franchise” Xerneas), with a variety of tough customers behind “The Deer Of Death” (Bambi will have many more nicknames by the time this run is over…). This week, however, he ran into a foe more fearsome than any Pokémon ever created: Time itself.

I won’t bore you with the details, but the bottom line is that after posting last week’s episode, reality conspired to keep me in the salt mines and away from Kalos until the weekend, leaving me little time to fill out Ollie’s roster and distracting me into some boneheaded mistakes when I finally did get to play. The result? Read on, dear reader…

Tree Got Game

The first order of business was deciding who would fill Birdo’s old spot on Ollie’s top line. I had plenty of intriguing options, but I’d been leaning towards Trevor the Trevenant ever since I caught him, and the early returns seemed to validate the decision. His moveset was beyond impressive, as he already knew Wood Hammer and Phantom Force (wait, wasn’t that a Giratina exclusive back in G4?) and soon backed them with Shadow Claw and Leech Horn, making him an even more lethal version of Amelia (where Gust was only occasionally useful, Trevor could leverage both of his types in any situation).

Still, while Trevor helped cover one of my larger weaknesses (Fighting types), he made the other (Ice types) worse, and neither he nor Hoskins nor Thumper were viable against them. I wanted more options to consider, and I found one in the caves north of Route 18:

Lairon boasted a decent Ice resistance, and its Steel-typing would help broaden my type-coverage a bit (most notably, it gave me a potential option against Fairy types). I decided to stick with Trevor for the moment, but I put “Alyssa” on notice when I sent her to a box: Be ready for a quick call-up if the injury bug strikes.

Spoiler alert: It struck. It struck hard.

Victory Road Street of Suffering

Mount Everest is so last season. Climbing to the Kalos Elite Four is where it’s really at!

After a few extra meals at Cafe Le Yeah, I decided to make my way to Victory Road and complete Trevor’s training there. After dispatching the guard and entering the requisite gloomy cave, we wandered around to sample the local wildlife:

Gurdurr? …I suppose it could have been worse.

The first few battles didn’t go to badly…until I ran into a Haunter with some serious speed.

Back in my Ultra Sun Nuzlocke, it was a Tailwind-buffed Gengar that brought down my Decidueye in the Poni Island caves and signaled the beginning of the end of that run (Ultra Necrozma wiped my party soon afterwards). I wasn’t worried here, however: The Haunter was lower-leveled than Trevor, so what could it possibly use against me before it got wrecked by Shadow Claw?

The answer: Destiny Bond. FML.

The move worked as advertised: Shadow Claw KO’d the Haunter, which promptly KO’d Trevenant along with it. This was irritating, but hey, I guess Alyssa would get her chance after all… Without much thought, I swapped Patty to the head of the party and continued walking.

The very next battle, another Gurdurr appeared. I knew darn well that Dark types were weak to Fighting-type moves, but come on: Patty had a sizable level advantage and full health. What could possibly happen?

Superpower happened. [Editor’s note: The next five sentences were redacted due to excessive profanity.]

[Editor’s note: Yeah, we had to censor this too.]
Two meaningless battles. Two very meaningful losses. If that doesn’t make you question your life choices, you’re not human. …But Ollie’s an Octoling, so he just transformed into octopus form and cowered in a puddle of ink for the next hour.

Looking back, I’d kind of been waiting for something like this to happen. Patty just never stood out and shined the way Suzy did in my FireRed Nuzlocke, and her poor Dark-type moveset meant her second type was more of a liability, especially with all the Fairy types crawling around this game.

Still, let’s not minimize the moment: Suddenly I was stuck in the middle of a hostile environment full of high-level monsters and Trainers, all staring at me and just itching to stomp me into the floor. (Wait, I just described my high school…) Not only was I down two party members, but that Superpower suplex could have happened to Nala or Thumper just as easily as it did Patty, which meant I couldn’t just throw them into battle and hope for the best. My confidence in my entire team was shaken; who could I trust to save the day now?

There’s a reason the LA Clippers went all-in for Kawhi Leonard: When the chips are down and you absolutely need to make a play, having a superstar around that you can just hand the ball to and get out of their way is worth their weight in gold. For Ollie, that someone was Bambi “Michael Jordan” Xerneas. I stuck Bambi at the top of the list, slapped them on the shoulder, and said “Go get ’em, champ.”

What happened next restored my faith in humanity, or at least in my team-building skills. Bambi “Chuck Norris” Xerneas went on a hot streak that would have made Tom Brady stand up and clap. Gurdurr Superpowers? Druddigan Dragon Claws? Graveler Explosions? Nothing could stand against the “The Kalos Konqueror,” and the returning volley of Moonblasts, Megahorns, and Leech Horns left a trail of fainted monsters and crushed dreams in its wake. Not even Father Time and real-life demands could dig a hole deep enough to bury “The X Factor,” and as long as it was still alive, our chances of Nuzlocke success were too.

Even demigods like “The Fearsome Fairy” run low on PP, however, and slowly but surely, I started working other members of the squad back in the rotation. Hoskins was first, as his favorable typing and defensive starch let him shrug off even the most powerful of moves. Next came Thumper, who could still strike some fear in his foes with Strength and Earthquake. Even Nala got a few licks in at the end, reminding the world that her previous run of dominance was no fluke.

One More Time

You’re aware of the definition of insanity, right?

About halfway through the cave, Serena finally found the nerve to face me after watching me destroy everything she held dear Shauna, Tierno, and Trevor back on Route 19. My lineup had gone through some significant changes since the last time we squared off, but with “The Many-Horned Hero” on my side, the outcome was never in doubt:

  • Bambi frosted the Meowstic in the opening skirmish.
  • Hoskins laughed off an Aurora Beam to (Giga) drain Vaporean of its will to live.
  • Bambi schooled Serena on the Fairy type by dismantling Altaria.
  • Chesnaught roasted on Nala’s open Flamethrower.
  • Thumper slammed the door by leveling Absol with an Earthquake.
Don’t worry Serena – the Washington Generals make a decent living too.

Serena conceded defeat, wished Ollie luck, and faded back into obscurity, leaving us to steamroll the rest of the cavern and finally reach the Elite Four. (Call Bambi “Moses” now, because they led us to the promised land.)

Conclusions

So hey, the end is finally in sight! …But when Ollie steps up to the Elite Four, who the heck who be in his six-stack?

  1. “The Moonblast Mangler” (Xerneas). Bambi is pretty much the only reason we’re still upright right now, so it’s only fair to give them the “C” that Patty had been wearing and have them lead us into battle. (As much as I’ve built her up this episode, it would be pretty awkward if she got KO’d like Moltres did in the closing seconds of my last run.)
  2. Hoskins (Amoonguss). Trusting the fungus worked for Bob Hoskins, and so far it’s worked out pretty well for Ollie too. I need to tweak its moveset a bit (pairing Venoshock with Toxic would be incredible, but what gets replaced? Spore? Synthesis?), but its defensive versatility makes it our default #2 option.
  3. Nala (Pyroar). Nala gets the #3 slot mostly on seniority, but with Flamethrower, Hyper Voice, and Crunch at her disposal, she’s certainly not useless.
  4. Thumper (Diggersby). Like the Bee Gees, Thumper is “stayin’ alive,” and while he’s not quite the wall that Hoskins is and nowhere near the offensive powerhouse that Nala is, he’s still dangerous in the right spots.
  5. Alyssa (Lairon). I have very little experience with Steel types and have no idea what Aggron’s moveset will turn out to look like, but I need the additional Ice- and Fairy-type coverage. Yes, it makes me even more vulnerable to Fighting-types, but Bambi will take them on if she’s available (and if she’s not available, I’m probably sunk anyway).
  6. Katie (Floatzel). If your first reaction is “who?”, you’re not alone. Katie (named after Katie Ledecky) was an accidental encounter in Couriway Town, and barely earned a footnote in last week’s episode. Still, I figured she might be a capable Patty replacement if worst came to worst, and now she gets a chance to prove it! Her moveset seems a bit weak, but Surf is an obvious TM addition, and at least she doesn’t have a useless second type weighing her down. Hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

I have no idea who the Elite Four are in Kalos (and while I think I remember the Champion, I have no idea what Pokémon they use), so tune in next week when the curtain rises and we attempt to follow Bambi to victory!