We return to the story of Fuzz and Block in Professor Oak’s laboratory. Tackle, our rival, stands aghast as his Pikachu lies slain on the floor. Thorn the Bellsprout looms triumphantly over Pikachu while Block looks on, a smug look on his face. The first battle of the Nuzlocke has ended soundly in our favor, but this is literally the beginning and there are plenty of obstacles standing between us and the championship. Not the least of which is the next battle with Tackle, a fight that takes place almost immediately after the first one.
One thing I’ll point out about this next match – it’s optional. If you captured an unfortunate combination of Pokemon here in the early game and the rival gave you trouble this first fight, it’s probably better not to mess with him again and push your luck. If you, like me, wiped the floor with him, paying him another visit to get some extra EXP is certainly not a bad idea. To fight Tackle again you have to head north on route one to Viridian City and then west onto route twenty-two. During this next battle your rival will have a level 3 Pidgey in addition to his Pikachu, who gains a level between the lab and this location. In my case, I overestimated how much he leveled up between the two battles and did some grinding to have Thorn at level 10 and Cheesethief the Rattata at level 7. As such, I fought this whole match with Cheesethief to keep things somewhat even.
As it turned out, Cheesethief had no problem putting Tackle in his place. Now thoroughly whipped after two failed battles against me, my rival got lost and gave me some space to finally get my adventure under way. The next big obstacle in the journey to the first gym is our first special location in the game: Viridian Forest. These woods are full of Pokemon as well as a number of trainers to battle, so we’ll finally get to put our skills to the test against the battle of attrition that is constant battle. But before Viridian Forest there’s route two, a small path that features a bit of grass to explore and a few new Pokemon to capture.
In addition to the typical Rattata and Pidgey shenanigans in the early routes, route two introduces us to bug Pokemon for the first time. The two options here are Caterpie and Weedle, Pokemon who start out quite weak but evolve rather quickly. As it turned out I encountered neither of them – instead, I finally ran into a Pidgey after dodging it for two routes. It’s pretty much inevitable that you’ll end up with a Pidgey at some point during Let’s Go, so may as well get it out of the way early I suppose. I named the little fellow Vincent after the Pigeon Man in the Nickelodeon cartoon Hey Arnold and then added him to my party. Vincent has an adamant nature which is pretty solid – Pidgeot can be a mixed attacker but has higher physical power naturally so playing into that more is certainly nice. Once you’ve gotten your route two capture there’s really no reason to hang around there, so head right on in to Viridian Forest.
Viridian Forest is a location where you have lots of potential for interesting captures, but you probably won’t get anything exciting unless you’re very lucky. The Pokemon here you probably want are Bulbasaur or Pikachu – powerful Pokemon with unique typings that you won’t have too many opportunities to get. What you’re most likely to end up with instead is some variation on the Caterpie or Weedle lines. What you absolutely do not want to end up with is the middle form of one of those, Metapod or Kakuna. When you catch one of these suckers in their pupal form instead of their larval form, you miss out on their basic attacks and instead have a Pokemon that can only use Harden until you fully evolve it. Naturally, this worst case scenario option is exactly what happened to me – I encountered a Kakuna right out the gate and so Buzzington joined my party. To add insult to injury, Buzzington’s nature was calm, a nature which increases special defense at the price of attack power. Beedrill lives or dies on the strength of its attacks, so at this point I decided that Buzzington will only be in my party until I catch seven Pokemon – if I don’t have to use him for a sacrifice play first.
Viridian Forest is your best opportunity to grind for levels before the first gym, so this is a good opportunity to talk a bit about leveling up in Let’s Go. The single greatest source of EXP in Let’s Go is capturing Pokemon. The trainers you battle offer very little in the way of EXP generally, but especially in the forest where most of your opponents will have level 2 or 3 bug Pokemon. Instead, the majority of your levels will come from focusing on capturing. There are some different multipliers to keep in mind when capturing Pokemon, so let’s take some time to go over them.
First, there’s the new Pokemon multiplier. This bonus gets added whenever you catch a species of Pokemon for the first time (you won’t get it if you catch the evolved form of a Pokemon that you caught in its basic form and evolved naturally, though). Anytime you see a Pokemon you haven’t caught yet, it’s worthwhile to go ahead and scoop it up for a small EXP boost. Not to mention, you’ll eventually need fifty unique species to enter one of the Pokemon gyms, so may as well start working towards that while you can.
Another simple multiplier is the one for the quality of your throw. The multiplier gets bigger the better the throw – great catch beats nice catch, and both are beaten by excellent catch. To get the biggest bonus, land the Pokeball right in the center of the capture field when the circle is at its smallest size. Your multiplier will improve even more if you can catch the Pokemon on your first throw, so trying to get an excellent catch with the first Pokeball you throw is one of the best ways to gain good EXP from a capture.
When you’re running around in the overworld, you may notice that some Pokemon have strange swirls of energy around them. Some have red swirls and some have blue swirls. These denote special sizes of Pokemon – large and small Pokemon, respectively. When you catch a Pokemon of a special size, you get a size bonus to your EXP multiplier. On the off chance you find a shiny Pokemon, those grant a bonus too. Finally, you get a bonus for catching the same species of Pokemon over and over again. This is called a catch combo, and these are particularly important because a high catch combo increases the likelihood of Pokemon of unusual size and shiny Pokemon, meaning more chances to get even more EXP from the Pokemon you capture.
Now the important thing to keep in mind here is that all of these factors increase your multiplier when capturing Pokemon. A multiplier is not EXP on its own – it’s applied to a base level to increase it to a higher number. That means the final consideration – or better yet, the first consideration – that you want to make is how big the base EXP level of your chosen target is. Pokemon like Weedle and Caterpie give a pretty low base EXP, which means that even once you start applying all those multipliers, you won’t be getting all that much experience. You want to choose a target that is common enough you’ll be able to capture it somewhat often but also rare enough to give a meaningful amount of EXP. In Viridian Forest, Pikachu ended up working out quite well for me. They’re a bit harder to capture with basic Pokeballs but you can give them razz berries to make things a bit easier, and they have a great base EXP value that benefits a lot from stacking multipliers together.
What level you ultimately want to reach will depend on how much of an advantage against Brock in his gym. If you caught Bellsprout or Bulbasaur, or you’re using your Eevee, level 11 or 12 will put you even with Brock and should be more than enough to finish him off without a struggle – if you want a struggle, don’t even level up that high. If your best option is a Nidoran, I’d definitely say to hit 12 if you want a challenge and maybe a couple levels higher if you want to be safe – whether male or female, Nidoran learns the super-effective Double Kick at level 9 and will be able to compete, but has no special defense against Rock-type moves. If Rattata is your best option, hitting level 12 is pretty much a requirement so that you can learn Bite and have neutral damage against Rock-type Pokemon, but you’ll very likely want to be higher level than that.
Now the absolute worst case scenario would be that every single Pokemon you caught is weak to Rock type – Pidgey, Spearow, Caterpie, and Weedle. If that’s how things shook out for you, this is gonna be a bad time. One of your riskiest weapons in this situation is Butterfree – Butterfree learns Poisonpowder, Sleep Powder, and Stun Spore at level 13. Using Sleep Powder to stop Onix from attacking so that you can beat him up in relative safety could give you an edge, but Butterfree is 4x weak to Rock Throw, so defensively you’re taking a significant risk. At level 16, Butterfree also gets Psybeam, a neutral damage attack – this attack is going to be your best offensive option against Onix with the team described above. However, you may not want to play that risky with your Butterfree, so let’s talk options.
If you like the idea of relying heavily on RNG, you can have your Pidgey spam Sand Attack a few times. Once Onix’s accuracy is down, Rock Throw should miss somewhat often – it already has 90 accuracy so it’s possible to miss even without a Sand Attack. That’ll give you room to slowly whittle Onix down with attack after attack. With Spearow, it’s going to be all about status moves: Growl to reduce the damage from Onix’s attacks, Leer to make Onix more vulnerable to your attacks. You can also try the Focus Energy/Fury Attack combo to fish for critical hits – if the move hits five times, that’s five separate attacks each with an increased likelihood of getting a critical hit. Regardless of which of these strategies you choose, you’ll want to have plenty of potions on hand and you’ll want to be multiple levels above the level 12 Onix.
Once you know what level you want to grind your team to, pick a Pokemon and build up that catch combo! It didn’t take me any time at all because I’d already gotten Thorn to level 10, so I didn’t spend much time catching Pikachu in the forest. There are plenty of trainers here to fight but they primarily use Bug-type Pokemon, so if you’ve got a Pidgey or Spearow then you’ll have nothing to worry about here. Cheesethief carried me through just fine, tackling every opponent into submission. There is one girl here who has a Pikachu, so be sure to bring in your grass type for that fight if you managed to capture one.
Outside of there forest is a continuation of route two, so you don’t get an additional capture there. It’s really only a few steps to Pewter City, at which point you’ll be accosted by your rival. Tackle was tired of getting his tail kicked so he loaded me up with potions for my upcoming gym battle. Before heading to the gym, it’s probably not a bad idea to visit the lady with the Slowpoke in the northwest corner of Pewter City. Talking to her and agreeing to stare at her Slowpoke for ten seconds gets you a Big Pearl, which you can immediately sell for a large number of dollars in order to fortify your potion stock if you need a few more for the gym battle.
Brock’s gym is a pretty straightforward one. In order to get in, you’ll need to have a water or grass Pokemon to show him. If you didn’t get a Bellsprout as one of your official captures, use one laying around in your box to get into the gym – there’s no rule saying you have to actually use the Bellsprout in combat! There are a couple of trainers before Brock who you can use as a warm-up if you have a Pokemon with advantage against them. If you’re in the worst case scenario of having an entire team weak to Rock types, it’s probably better to take the routes through the gym which allow you to skip these trainers.
I’ve already spent a lot of time talking about how to defeat Brock if you have a team that isn’t ideal for facing him. But what happens when you have a team that is ideal for facing him? Observe:
Hey, not every chapter builds up to a thrilling conclusion, yeah? Brock’s fate was sealed the moment I captured Thorn on route one, but that’s okay. We’ll have plenty of opportunities later in the Nuzlocke to nearly die, so don’t you worry about that. For now, we’ll wrap up this chapter and plan to head to Mt. Moon during the next one. Operation Fuzzblock takes place each Wednesday at 9 AM here on Adventure Rules, so be sure to tune in next week to see the next exciting event in my Nuzlocke journey!