Last week, there were two big questions I needed to answer:
- How many setbacks could Xerneas overcome?
- Who was going to fill the slots at the back end of my six-stack?
The TL;DR version of this post: The answers were “A lot” and “It really doesn’t matter.”
When we last left Ollie, he was facing pressure from all sides: Party pressure from continued losses, confidence pressure from continued mistakes, and time pressure from continued intrusions from reality. Against all odds, every one of these things got worse this week, making victory feel like an unlikely outcome. Superstars, however, can change the equation entirely, and with Bambi “The Dragon Destroyer” Xerneas on the squad, Ollie always had a chance. So how would it turn out?
Unlike the Kalos Elite Four, which are burned into my brain after so many playthroughs, I had no idea who or what was waiting for me in the Kalos Elite Four (and I decided not to look them up on Serebii before the battle just to keep things interesting). However, thanks to a tip from some random stranger just outside the inner chamber, I did know what types I would be up against. How much they scared me depended on how good of a matchup Bambi was against them:
- Dragon: Piece of cake. Next!
- Water: Neutral? Hey, like any good wide receiver, if I’m even, I’m leavin’.
- Fire: This could be trouble: Fire resist Fairy attacks, and Bambi’s moveset (Leech Horn, Megahorn, Moonblast) lacks a good counter.
- Steel: It resists Fairy and is super-effective against it?! This will be a problem.
The Champion, of course, would have types all over the map, so my strategy would probably boil down to “stand behind Bambi and cross my fingers.”
Of course, if there’s one rule Pokémon drives into your skull, it’s that no one monster can take on the world by themselves, and that a well-balanced, equally-experienced team is needed for success. With Trevor and Patty down for the count, I had two seats that needed to be filled, and I made the following appointments:
- Katie (Floatzel): As a general rule, I don’t go anywhere without a Water-type Pokémon (this is often literally true thanks to Surf), and if Patty couldn’t answer the bell, Katie was my next-best option. Her movepool wasn’t great, but it wasn’t anything a bunch of TMs and HMs couldn’t fix. Surf and Waterfall were obvious solutions, but when Hydro Pump came along and I had three attack slots dedicated to the same type, suddenly the solutions didn’t seem so obvious. Eventually, I settled on the following loadout:
- Waterfall, since Katie’s attack was roughly 20 points better than her Spec. Attack.
- Hydro Pump, because sometimes you just need to deal a lot of damage.
- Ice Beam, because dragons are always a problem and only Bambi seemed to be a viable option against them.
- Brick Break, because Water resists Steel, Fighting clobbers it, and I was going to need all the help I could get against that portion of the Elite Four.
Katie had some serious offensive potential (good Spec. Attack, better Attack, incredible Speed), but her less-than-stellar defensive stats made her a classic glass cannon that needed to be handled with care. Still, I figured that in the right situations, she would be a tremendous asset. (Spoiler alert: I was even more right than I expected.)
- Alyssa (Aggron): Alyssa was added to the team for two reasons: To counter a potential Ice and Fairy weakness, and to finally see what the Steel type was all about (in twenty total Pokémon playthroughs, I’ve used all of one Steel-type: Lucario in Pokémon Y). What I got was basically a Steel version of Torkoal: Monster Defense, terrible special stats (Aggron’s weighted more towards Attacks while Torkoal is more balanced), slower than molasses uphill. Iron Tail and Heavy Slam were pretty powerful, however, and with the right Rock-type TMs (Stone Edge?), she really could have been a force to be reckoned with.
I say “could have been” because…
One Last Belt For The Road
I did a fair bit of grinding in Victory Road for my new recruits, and while Katie gained levels more quickly, both of them soon earned enough to start taking down opponents on their own instead of leaning on Bambi or Hoskins. The change made things quicker, but it was risky: If an opponent attacked a severe weakness (like, say, a 4x weakness to Fighting), things could go south in a hurry.
Enter Druddigon, who in the past fifty or so battles I’d had against them in the cave, had never once let on that they knew Superpower. I leave Alyssa in with less than perfect health (so her Sturdy ability wasn’t active), the stupid dragon breaks out their incredible move, and…yeah. She didn’t make it.
At this point, it was the day before I had to write this post (remember that time pressure I mentioned earlier?), and I was ready to throw in the towel and just take on the Elite Four with a party of five. How was I supposed to raise another Pokémon to take to take on the Elite Four before my deadline?
I took a deep breath, counted backwards from ten, and went back to my Box to find one last benchwarmer for the team:
- Gertrude (Gurdurr): Yes, yes, I know – with only one 3DS and no potential trade partners nearby, I had no way to evolve Gertrude to her final form. Still, she was an all-in Fighting-type with a similar profile to Alyssa (great Attack and Defense, terrible everything else), and if there was ever a time I would need a “break glass in case of emergency” monster, it would be the Steel-type Elite Four battle. I swapped out Focus Punch for Brick Break, fed her every Rare Candy I could get my hands on (Thumper’s Pickup ability finally came in handy!), and hoped I wouldn’t have to lengthen my bench past five.
Beyond the improvements I’ve mentioned earlier, I beefed up some of the other party members as well:
- I made the hard decision to replace Hoskins’s Spore with Venoshock. I hate getting rid of my only sleep-inducer (besides my sleep-inducing writing), but Venoshock has incredible synergy with Toxic, and strikes fear into the heart of every Fairy-type in Kalos.
- I equipped Bambi with Thunderbolt, as I really didn’t have any Flying-type counters at this point.
- I also dropped some PP Ups on Bambi’s Moonblast and Hoskins’s Giga Drain, as I predicted that I would be leaning heavily on these moves going forward.
At this point, there was nothing left to do but enter the Elite Four’s chambers with Bambi and the Xerneairs, get this party started, and live with the result.
Round #1: Dragonmark Chamber
I decided to take on the Dragon trainer first, assuming that with Bambi out front, it would be a quick and easy win. I was not wrong.
The opening twist was that Dragalge was a Poison/Dragon type, which meant that it took two Moonblasts to beat it instead of one (it actually took several more, thanks to Drasna burning all her Full Restores on it). Everything else rolled over like they were training for the Westminster Dog Show, giving Bambi the sweep she deserved.
Round #2: Blazing Chamber
Next, I decided to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, and find out just what Katie was made of. However, I anticipated that Malva would block the obvious counter first, so I decided to give the ball to Thumper to start the inning.
The twist here turned out to be a Ground-type block: After Malva’s Nala clone got swallowed up by Earthquake, she brought out a Birdo clone to try to stay above the fray. Ollie immediately went to the bullpen for Katie, and she started handing out Water attacks like she was Oprah Winfrey: Talonflame gets a Hydro Pump, Torkoal gets a Hydro Pump, everyone gets a Hydro Pump! (Chandelure actually got a Waterfall, but the result was the same.) I made some questionable personnel moves over the course of this Nuzlocke run, but this victory proved that Katie was not one of them.
Round #3: Ironworks Chamber
At this point, I decided to bite the bullet and face my Steel-type fears head-on. As I looked over my team, I realized that I was actually in a pretty strong position: Nala, Thumper, and Gertrude were super-effective, Katie had a strong type matchup, and Bambi was just so darn powerful that if we really needed her to win a one-on-one, she probably could. Surmising that fire was the most-obvious counter, I left Thumper in the leadoff spot and stepped up to face Wikstrom.
After Klefki fell over with a single Earthquake, I left Thumper in to face Aegislash despite the monster’s reputation. Sure, it was pretty strong in the competitive meta, but it was also a Ghost-type, which meant Thumper had a potential immunity against it. What could it possibly do to me?
The answer was “Sacred F***ing Sword.” Here we go again.
However, there was one big difference between Thumper and his fallen contemporaries like Patty, Birdo, and even Nala: Thumper had the Defense to take a blow like Sacred Sword, and his Earthquake did just as much damage on the other end. He was also faster than Aegislash, and after a few tense minutes of scouring the Internet trying to answer the question “Does changing from Shield to Blade Forme boost Aegislash’s Speed?” (thankfully, it doesn’t), he unleashed his finishing blow before Aegislash could unleash its own.
With Thumper alive but out of gas, I again made the switch to Katie with Probopass coming up next. This battle ended up just like the last one: Probopass’s Discharge did significant damage to Katie, but Katie had the faster gun, and a Hydro Pump/Waterfall combo brought Wikstrom down to his last monster: Scizor.
Steel AND Bug? Ollie had an app for that, and her name was Nala. Ballgame.
Round #4: Flood Chamber
All that was left now was Siebold the Water master, and unfortunately for him, he would have to face a well-rested squad: Bambi hadn’t seen the mound since their rout of Drasna, and Hoskins hadn’t yet pitched in the entire series. Hoskins got the start and crushed Clawitzer with a single Giga Drain, and when Starmie appeared with its Psychic type, it was met with a massive Moonblast from Bambi.
Gyarados was next, and while I usually stalled this Pokémon out with Hoskins, I decided to stick with Bambi this time, and was rewarded with yet another one-hit Moonblast KO. I probably could have left Bambi there to take down Barbaracle too, but Hoskins had a huge type advantage against it and I wanted to get Bambi a bit more rest for the playoffs. Barbaracle was fast enough to launch a Stone Edge, but Hoskins shrugged it off and took all its HP back with Giga Drain, putting a bow on an impressive four-game sweep.
Round #5: Radiant Chamber
I’ve forgotten a surprising number of things over the last few days, but I hadn’t forgotten that Diantha was secretly the Champion of the Kalos region. However, I also hadn’t forgotten that I’d lost two Pokémon (including Moltres) in my battle with Cyrus in Pokémon FireRed, so I knew I couldn’t back off the throttle now. I didn’t know what Pokémon were coming, but I also didn’t care: Bambi would start the battle, and Ollie would play things by ear from there.
Diantha put herself in an early hole by opening with Hawlucha and Tyrantrum, who Bambi promptly ate for breakfast with its patented Moonblast. I nearly coughed up that advantage, however, by overthinking the type matchup with Aurorum and switching to Nala without realizing Ice’s Fire weakness was countered by its Rock type. When I tried to make up for the error, I ended up switching Katie into a Thunder (?!) attack, which cut her down to 1/3 health and paralyzed her. I then went back to the “keep it simple, stupid” approach, got lucky when Bambi switched into a Thunder that missed, and leveled Aurorum with another Moonblast.
Aurorum’s Light Screen denied Bambi a one-hit KO on the Goodra that followed, but it did enough damage to make Diantha burn a Full Restore, and when the screen wore off, it was all over but the shouting. When Gourgeist appeared, I decided to throw the type matchup chart out the window and let Bambi go for another sweep. Gourgeist, however, had other ideas: It used a Megahorn miss to drop a Trick-or-Treat to give Bambi a Ghost type, and then tried to use Phantom Force to punish me for ignoring type wisdom. Instead, Ollie made his first decent chess move of the match, switching to Nala to dodge the Phantom Force and using Flamethrower to bring Gourgeist down.
Diantha had one last ace up her sleeve, and it came in the form of a Mega-Evolved Gardevoir, a Pokémon that I had used to great effect myself back in Pokémon Y. By now, unfortunately, it was too little, too late: Bambi could smell the victory, and no two-bit Mega-Evolved wannabe was going to stand in their way. One Moonblast drained most of Gardevoir’s health, and after Diantha used another Full Restore, the second Moonblast drained all of it. Game, set, match, Nuzlocke.
Wait, It’s Not Over?
Ollie had officially joined Ophilia as a Nuzlocke champion, and I had gone back-to-back for the first time since I won those Cub Scout pinewood derbies back in the day. It was time to watch the ending cut scene and bask in the glory of being the hero of Kalos!
In the middle of my coronation as supreme ruler of Kalos, the old king AZ appeared and challenged me to a battle. The bout itself was pretty much a formality: I decided to let Bambi earn one last sweep for the road, and she KO’d everything she faced with a single hit. Still, the fight was enough to reawaken AZ’s love of Pokémon, so much so that his long-lost Floette appeared to join him once more.
With that plot point finally settled, the credits rolled and the game officially conceded defeat.
There’s no point in separating the playoff and overall Nuzloke MVP this time, because they’re the same Pokémon:
Bambi was so dominant in this game that some of my best Pokémon were reduced to cameo roles in the run’s biggest moments. This table says it all:
|Pokémon||Elite 4/Champion Opponents|
Once I was locked inside the Pokémon League, Nala and Hoskins became LOOPs (Left-Handed One-Out Pokémon), Thumper transformed into Brian Roberts, and Gertrude never came off the freaking bench. (My one regret is that I didn’t just stick Machop in that slot to officially block them from future Nuzlocke runs.) As good as Luna “The Hammer” Hypno was in my FireRed adventure, Bambi easily claims the Oscar for “Best-Ever Performance In A Nuzlocke Run.”
Katie deserves a shout-out for her spirited performance in limited action, and Birdo and Amelia had their moments before they went down, but once Bambi joined the team, these awards were never in doubt.
There’s one last question to answer: Where do we go from here? There’s a solid postgame episode available involving everyone’s favorite investigator <strike>Paul Drake</strike> Looker, but with Bambi currently filling out an application for a condo on Mount Olympus, I’m not sure how compelling such a story would be.
There’s another option, however, that seems a little more intriguing: Last winter, I bought my brother a 3DS and a copy of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, and he got so into the game and raised so many monsters that he literally rolls lines like a hockey team when he plays. (Seriously, he has a six-stack that he calls his “checking line.”) I’m taking an honest-to-goodness vacation this week, and I’m planning on visiting him along the way. Perhaps I should see if his checking line can stand up against a two-way force of nature like Bambi? (The answer will depend on what he’s doing with Kyogre.) If that isn’t enough for Ollie’s crew, perhaps I can pit him against my teams from Y or Omega Ruby as well. I don’t know if these challenges would make for much of a blog post, but it would certainly be more of a challenge than Xerosic could ever be.
Either way, this ride isn’t over just yet. Tune in next week to see if Bambi and the Xerneaires really have what it takes to win!