A Casual Stroll Through: Your First Nuzlocke

Yesterday we took a long car ride through a massive list of rules used in different types of Nuzlocke challenges. Today, we’re gonna get out of the car and just take a stroll. That’s right, it’s time for another stroll-through!

If you’re not familiar with the stroll-through of Adventure Rules, it’s kind of like a walkthrough. But if a walkthrough just kind of gave you advice instead of telling you verbatim how to do something. There’s nothing urgent, nothing driven, just a relaxed look at some hints and tips for video games. And today’s hints and tips will finish off our two-day Nuzlocke special by helping you with your first ever attempt at Pokemon Hard Mode.

Choosing Your Starter
This is basically the first thing you do in every Pokemon game, and if you’re doing a Nuzlocke for the very first time, you may be wondering if choice in starter really matters all that much.
The answer is no. You still should play the game your way, with the starter Pokemon of your choice. After all, one point of doing a Nuzlocke run is to feel a stronger attachment to the Pokemon that you train. So choosing your very first one solely on mechanical prowess kind of misses the point. So whether you choose your starter based on typing, name, coolness, or cuteness, go ahead and keep doing that!

MONEY
Okay, see how money is all capitalized like that? Managing your funds is one of the most important aspects of succeeding in a Nuzlocke. So much so that I am going to discuss how to manage your funds in sections, each one dealing with specific things.
Making Money
They say you have to spend money to make money. In reality, you just need to know where the money is at. Unlike in most RPGs, you don’t make money just for beating the snot out of monsters you meet in the woods. Your main source of income will be the money you get from Pokemon Trainers when you defeat them in battle. This means that any time you skip a trainer battle, you’re skipping out on money. Don’t do it.
You can also increase this money using the hold item called the Amulet Coin. There’s at least one of these suckers in most Pokemon games, and giving it to your Pokemon to hold increases the money you gain in return for trainer battles. Personally, I recommend just looking up the location of the Amulet Coin in whichever game you are playing.
Selling unwanted items will be a big help as well. In a Nuzlocke, revives are totally useless, so any revives you find mean extra cash in your pocket. You can find hidden items using the itemfinder/dowsing machine, and this will often get you high-level Pokeballs, potions, and even nuggets (perfect selling fodder). So don’t neglect that either. If you catch a Pokemon with the Pickup ability, keep it in your party for awhile and check it for items regularly. Even if you can’t sell them, the items may still be useful medicine or balls.
Medicine
Healing is so important in a Nuzlocke. So having quality healing items is also important. But just like in the real world, pharmaceuticals are very expensive. So how can you save money on the healing items you need for your team?
Also like in real life, you need to hunt for bargains. In most Pokemon games the best values can’t be found in a store. For example, a super potion heals 50 HP and costs $700 in the store. However, you can buy fresh water for $200 from vending machines, and guess how much that heals? 50 HP. So you’re saving $500 dollars on an equal-quality healing item. Vending machines also sell soda pop (which heals 60 HP) for $300, or lemonade (which heals 80 HP) for $350. So for half the price of the super potion found in stores, you can actually heal more HP. Keep your eye open for bargains and buying medicine will be much more affordable.
When it comes to status healing items like antidotes, paralyze heals, and burn heals, the trick is in knowing how much to buy of something. My recommendation is to stock them based on how common the status condition is. For example, you can probably count on one hand how many times you’re frozen in the typical Pokemon playthrough. So why buy two dozen ice heals? Generally, I try to keep my pack stocked with 15 antidotes, 10 paralyze heals and awakenings, and 5 burn heals and ice heals. If you find a particular status condition is unusually common in your playthrough, you can adjust. The main thing is not to buy too many at once trying to stock up for the rest of the playthrough, because you’ll just end up spending a ton of money on items you’ll never actually use.
Pokeballs
These little guys are definitely important in a Nuzlocke, because you need them to add more members to your team. The thing is, they can get expensive, and sometimes it takes multiple balls to catch one single Pokemon. So your goal should be to purchase the best quality Pokeballs so you can get results the first time.
Here’s the thing about Pokeballs. The classic Poke Ball has a catch rate of 1. That’s the base, the measure that you compare all the others to. So since the Great Ball is next, it should have a catch rate of at least 2, right? Wrong. It actually only has a rate of 1.5, and the Ultra Ball has a catch rate of 2. This means that you’re spending an extra $1000 (a total of $1200) only to double your chances of succeeding. Now doubling your odds isn’t too bad, but what if I told you that increasing your odds by anywhere from 3-5 times was possible for less money? You’d want that deal, right?
So this is where specialty Pokeballs come in. All specialty balls cost $1000, cheaper than an Ultra Ball, and each of them gives you a better catch rate than an ultra ball as long as they are used in the correct situation. My personal favorites are the Quick Ball and the Dusk Ball. The Quick Ball has a catch rate of 5 as long as you use it on the very first turn of battle. No worrying about attacking the Pokemon and maybe fainting it with a critical hit, no worrying about putting your own Pokemon at risk – you just throw and watch in satisfaction as the Quick Ball catches the wild Pokemon with ease. Of course a catch rate of 5 isn’t a guaranteed capture, but it’s infinitely more reliable than most other balls and I’ve rarely seen a Quick Ball fail. The Dusk Ball increases your catch rate to 3.5 as long as it is nighttime or you are in a cave. This is easily the broadest condition of any specialty ball – most require the target to be a specific typing or a specific level. With the Dusk Ball, as long as you’re playing at night it’s gonna be a strong tool for your arsenal. If you rarely play at night, you can just change the time setting on your system and BAM – you’re capturing Pokemon left and right.

THREATS
Back in October I did a Give Me the Creeps on Pokemon, and in it I talked about the different Pokemon most likely to murder you during a Nuzlocke. If you want to check out that article to have an idea of what could be dangerous to you, you can click¬†this link. For today, I’m going to talk not about specific Pokemon that are threatening but instead about general situations that are threatening.
Damage and HP
One thing you should be aware of is how damage works in Pokemon. The way the game calculates damage has some random factors involved. This means that attacks have a minimum amount of damage and a maximum amount of damage, or could fall on any number in between. You need to be aware of this because sometimes a low roll can leave you feeling safe when in reality, a second blow will do you in. As an example, let’s say your Charmander has 40 HP and gets hit with an attack that can deal anywhere from 18-22. If the first hit deals 18, you may be tempted to think “hey, Charmander will live a second hit, because he has 22 HP left and the enemy can only do 18.” Well if that enemy Pokemon gets a high roll, your Charmander is taking a one-way trip to the PC.
Another factor to keep in mind is critical hits. In all Pokemon games before sixth gen, a critical hit doubles the damage dealt by an attack. In XY and ORAS, critical hits deal 1.5 times damage. This means that a surprise critical hit can often finish your Pokemon when you least expect it. A general rule of thumb for staying safe from crits and high rolls is to heal whenever your HP bar turns yellow. This signifies that you have dropped beneath 50% HP, and just when you think you’re safe is usually when a critical hit decides to pay a visit. Did I mention that crits ignore things like attack drops and defense increases?
Trainers
Now you’d think that the time you are most likely to run into trouble is against a Gym Leader. After all, they’re the elite trainers of the world, right? The best of the best. The thing is, Gym Leaders are static. They stay in one place, you know the type they train in advance, and you have all the time in the world to prepare for them. You can even leave the gym just before facing them and heal up in a Pokemon Center to be at full strength. No, the real threats in the world of Pokemon are the other trainers, the ones who can catch you by surprise and off guard.
In particular, you really want to watch out for characters like your rival and the administrators of the evil teams. They tend to have strong Pokemon and good strategies, and there’s rarely a red flag warning you that you’re going to be attacked by them. If your whole team isn’t ready to go, they can give you real trouble. Remember that “stay out of the yellow” standard I mentioned above? You want to observe that outside of combat too. When I play Pokemon normally, I tend to just go through the route one Pokemon at a time, letting whoever is in the lead get worn down and then going to the next one. The problem with this approach is that you might need one of your worn-out Pokemon to defeat an enemy with a type advantage against your team. Suddenly, you have a problem. Keeping all of your Pokemon healthy – and not just the one you’re using at the moment – is the best way to stay safe when traveling. Don’t be afraid to backtrack to a Pokemon Center in order to save money on medicine, either.

Surprises
Inevitably, something in a Nuzlocke is going to catch you off guard. This can come in many forms: a rival battle you didn’t see coming, a Wobuffet showing up in a wild encounter, an enemy Pokemon having the perfect move to defeat a type it’s weak against. You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can learn a few things about how to react in the moment.
Don’t underestimate the value of items like X Attack, X Defend, etc. Raising your defenses by one stage can be pretty helpful – after all, one “stage” actually equates to 1.5 times, and the higher your stat, the more significant that difference is. These items are also a great way to get around the move Destiny Bond – I’ve actually been in a situation where I had nothing to heal and no moves that didn’t deal damage, ¬†but using an X item allowed me to wait out the Destiny Bond and win on the next turn.
When an opponent has a move that is super-effective against the things that can beat them, you just have to approach the situation from a different angle. Sometimes it’s better to fight an opponent in a neutral matchup. As an example, many fighting Pokemon pack rock-type moves to deal with enemy flyers. Rather than using your super-effective flying type and getting crushed by rocks, you could instead use a strong neutral typing like grass or water.
Sometimes, even in a regular Nuzlocke, you end up in a situation where you have to think like it’s a chess game. That is to say, you have to decide what pieces in your team are most valuable and which ones you can afford to lose. While sacrificing one Pokemon to give another a safe switch-in doesn’t necessarily fit the spirit of a Nuzlocke, sometimes you’ll find that victory requires you to make difficult decisions. After all, most people would rather lose one Pokemon than lose all six.

The Nuzlocke Challenge adds a good degree of challenge to Pokemon, but with these hints and tips you may find that journey easier. If you’re working on a Nuzlocke or interested in starting one and need some advice I didn’t mention here, feel free to ask questions in the comments. I’ll do my best to lend a Helping Hand! Haha. Because, you know, Helping Hand is a Pokemon move. Ha. Yeah.

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