After crossing Nugget Bridge and facing the second gym leader Misty in glorious battle, the time has come for Block and his beloved Eevee partner Fuzz to once again set off into the wilderness of Kanto. Of course, since we ended off last time right after taking out the gym leader, there are a couple of little tasks to finish off around Cerulean that only open up after Misty has received her comeuppance. If you’ve been playing along on your own copy of Let’s Go Eevee, you may remember that the house to the northeast was blocked off by the police, who were investigating a Team Rocket attack. Now that you’ve got your second badge, that path will be clear when Officer Jenny chases a Squirtle that has apparently been causing trouble all over town.
I passed through the house and Block quickly ended up in battle against a member of Team Rocket. This guy isn’t super dangerous but don’t underestimate him either – his level 15 Raticate has Super Fang, a move which instantly halves the current HP of the target. Super Fang can never kill, but it can put you in killing range from a different move by ignoring your defenses to leave you at half HP. Winning this battle gets you the Dig TM. Now Dig is a decently powerful ground move with an annoying downside – it takes two turns to use. Two-turn moves are frustrating for a number of reasons: the opponent can use the opportunity to switch or protect themselves, statuses like confusion or paralysis get two chances to interrupt your move, and missing means you just burned two turns for no benefit. Still, ground is an important offensive type and particularly so during this phase of the game because it is the only weakness of the upcoming gym: electric type. So stick dig on any Pokemon who could feasibly benefit from it, and most importantly be sure to teach it to your Geodude or Onix if you have one.
Once you leave through the northeast house, the path will take you south along the eastern edge of the town. There’s a path to the east that leads to route nine but right now you can’t go that way thanks to a really thin bush that would be super easy for a ten year old to skinny past. Instead, you’ll end up going south onto route five. Route five has a weird shape in that there are two walking paths on either side of a series of ledges separated by jumps. You can jump down the center path from Cerulean but you have to walk up one of the side roads to get back. The jumping path is where all the tall grass is, so that’s the direction you’ll want to take to get your capture for this route.
There are a few new Pokemon on route five that you can potentially meet for the first time. One of the most common is Jigglypuff, this adorable pink fluff that serves as one of the few fairy-type Pokemon available in Let’s Go Eevee. Fairy is a great endgame typing that completely hangs dragon out to dry, but in these early parts of the game you won’t have much need for it. Other options here are Pokemon such as Vulpix and Abra. Fire and psychic are both great additions to your party, and in the case of psychic this will be your first real opportunity to add it to the team. Vulpix is also realistically your first legitimate shot at a fire type without some excellent luck after a catch combo or accepting gift Pokemon. If you somehow have not managed to catch a Rattata or Pidgey at this point, those suckers are running around this area too. In my case, as you can likely tell from the picture above, I ended up with Jigglypuff, which I decided to keep in the party to soak up EXP and try to catch up to the rest of my team.
Route five is really and truly uneventful. Tackle stopped me at the end of the route to inform me that the building connecting route five to route six in the south was impassable, so I would have to take the Underground Path. The Underground Path is the first lesson in this game’s version of dowsing – when walking, Eevee’s tail will shake based on your proximity to an item. Fuzz helped me find a number of hidden objects underground, including a nugget to build up my wallet a bit. My recommendation for moving through Underground Path is to zigzag left and right as you run, keeping an eye on Eevee’s tail as you do so to help you miss as few items as possible.
This will put you on route six – why this is separate from route five I don’t fully understand, but we shouldn’t complain because a separate route means a separate encounter! Route six has a pretty similar Pokemon selection to route five, the big difference being that Psyduck appear here pretty regularly if you don’t have one of those yet. In my case, I caught the Pokemon I wanted most from the previous route: a Vulpix. My team was sorely lacking in firepower (you’re welcome for that glorious pun) and with a grass gym in my future, this is a great time to start training up a future Ninetails.
Route six has more going on than route five due to the presence of a few trainers here, and the typical level of the Pokemon you’ll be facing is level 16. The only one that made me have to stop and think for a second was the Eevee used by the gentleman trainer on the west side of the route. I typically lead with Grave the Geodude unless I know for sure I have a water or grass type coming at me, but Eevee gets Double Kick pretty early and that was certainly a surprise. If you’re using a less defensive normal type (like a Rattata or Meowth), then that Double Kick could be even more dangerous coming at you unexpectedly. Always make sure you are healed up when approaching trainers so that a surprise super effective move is less likely to put you in the ground.
Once I followed route six all the way to the south, Block reached his next destination: Vermillion City. This is where gym number three is located, but just because we got here quick doesn’t mean we’re going to be facing the gym leader anytime soon. The Vermillion gym is blocked off by one of those irritatingly skinny trees, which means we have to learn to chop them down before we can make any more progress. Before worrying about that, though, there are plenty of other tasks to get busy with.
If you head east from the entrance to the open area where a Machop is running around, you’ll see a pair of crates in the corner. The bottom of the two crates has a hidden Full Heal if you check it. If you head west from the entrance, you’ll see Officer Jenny hanging out with that troublemaking Squirtle. As long as you’ve caught a bunch of Pokemon she’ll offer the Squirtle to you. Now me, I’m not accepting gift Pokemon for my Nuzlocke challenge, but if you want to use this little fella or lady then Squirtle is certainly a great Pokemon to have. There’s a building in town with a large Pokeball design called the Pokemon Fan Club – to the right of that building is a trainer who will give you an Arcanine in exchange for five Meowth. This is the only way to get Arcanine in Let’s Go Eevee without trading a human player or porting in one from Pokemon GO. Finally, talking to the brony – I mean, very enthusiastic Rapidash fan – inside the fan club will earn you a set of clothes that are colored like Eevee.
Now up to this point the world of Pokemon has been rather closed off, but things open up in Vermillion City and Block is faced with a choice. On the one hand, you can piledrive the story and head straight for the boat known as the S.S. Anne in order to learn Chop Down and enter the gym. Alternatively, you can head to the east and explore route eleven for more captures and trainer battles to build up your team more before progressing the story. I personally chose the latter route, and based on my experience I fully recommend that you do the same. Even with exploring route eleven, spending some time grinding there, and fighting all of the battles on the S.S. Anne, I still ended up just where I needed to be level-wise for the third gym. If you skip out on those things or save them for later, there’s a very good chance that Lieutenant Surge will put you in the ground. So let’s talk about the things you want to check out before boarding the S.S. Anne.
When you head east out of Vermillion City, there’s a small cave known as Diglett Cave which folks tell you leads back to Cerulean City. This is at some point where you’ll go to progress the game, but for now you can head inside to get an encounter. There are four possible encounters in Diglett Cave, but there is an 85% chance that the Pokemon you encounter is, in fact, a Diglett. This is a good thing – remember how we briefly mentioned that electric types only have one weakness? Ground is that weakness, and Diglett is the only true ground Pokemon you’ll have had an opportunity to capture up to this point. If you missed out on Geodude or Onix or have lost them since catching them, this little tyke will be your best bet for dealing with Lt. Surge:
Once I caught my Diglett’s Cave encounter I headed back out onto route eleven to catch yet another Pokemon. Route Eleven has a lot of things we’ve seen before: Rattata and its evolution Raticate, as well as Pidgey and its evolution Pidgeotto. In fact, there are really only two new options on this route, one of which is highly likely to be your capture and the other is highly unlikely without some serious luck after a catch combo in Diglett’s Cave. Those two Pokemon are Drowzee and Mr. Mime, both psychic types but with very different stats and moves. Mr. Mime is the special capture for route eleven and so odds are quite good that you’re going to end up with a Drowzee at this point in the game.
Once you’ve got that sweet route eleven capture, you can spend some time fighting the trainers here. One of the very first trainers on the route is the coach trainer for route eleven, and this guy is probably the most disappointing one Block has had to deal with so far. This guy has a level 21 Rattata that’s packing Crunch, an 80 power move with a chance to reduce defense, making it hit even harder on the next turn. For facing this little terror you get a pretty decent sum of money, sure, but instead of a TM or anything useful you instead get Eevee Candy – this gives a stat boost to Eevee and only Eevee. Chances are you are doing this Nuzlocke for a challenge and as such as not using candy at all, and since candy doesn’t sell particularly well, this will likely just waste away in your bag. If you’re Pokemon are barely around level 21 with this Rattata, I fully recommend skipping this coach trainer; he’s not worth it.
There’s another trainer on route eleven I’m going to advocate skipping, too. I don’t know his name because I didn’t fight him, but you can recognize him by his red belt with a black-and-white striped shirt:
This trainer class is called the Gambler, and they have a very distinct fighting style: they only use moves which cause a one-hit KO. These are moves like Fissure, Horn Drill, and Sheer Cold which instantly reduce your Pokemon’s HP to zero if they hit successfully. These moves are inaccurate but deadly, hence the “gambler” title. If you fight them, you are gambling with the lives of your precious Pokemon. Personally, I don’t like to fight these types of trainers in a Nuzlocke because instead of losing my Pokemon due to a lack of skill or a misstep in battle, I’m losing them to a slot machine. You can decide for yourself if the idea of fighting these guys sounds fun to you, but for me they suck the joy out of my Nuzlocke experience so I stay the heck away.
The other trainers on this route are closer to what you’re used to dealing with up to this point. Their Pokemon levels land somewhere in the 16-18 range, with a variety of types based on their trainer class. Confusion strategies are common here with Supersonic and Confuse Ray, so be careful if your Pokemon is hitting itself not to lose too much health and kill yourself on accident. You should also be careful of the Voltorb used by engineers – Voltorb can use Sonicboom, a move which does a guaranteed 20 damage regardless of defenses. 20 is a decent amount at these levels and if you’ve neglected your health, it could cost you a Pokemon.
A couple of things to snag at the end of the route here. There are some items out in the open that should be obvious as you walk around. What is not obvious is a hidden Revive in the northeast corner of the route. Check the rock sitting on the ground there to find it. Revives are free money in a Nuzlocke, so scoop them up and sell them quick. The building on the east side leads to route twelve, which you can’t traverse yet due to the presence of a Snorlax, but upstairs you’ll meet a lab assistant who will teach you to judge your Pokemon’s potential if you’ve caught 30 unique species of Pokemon. Judging potential helps you to see hidden stats of your Pokemon called “individual values” or IVs. IVs are not super important for a Nuzlocke run, but they may be the deciding factor between two Pokemon of a similar type that you are comparing on your team. And as we’ve learned from my Weepinbell Thorn, good IVs will show themselves as your Pokemon increases in power, and you’ll be able to “feel” the ones who have a little something special to offer.
Now I wanted to get to S.S. Anne in this chapter but we’ve already run way longer than I intended to. However, I want to leave off this time with some advice about grinding levels. A big concern in Nuzlocke runs is that grinding can sometimes leave Pokemon in your team too strong for the current phase of the game. In my case, Block had three Pokemon from level 23-25 and three at level 17 to try and train up. I didn’t want my heavy hitters to become too powerful during grinding, but in a typical Nuzlocke, I’d need those heavy hitters to be participating in fights so my weaker Pokemon could get experience.
Pokemon Let’s Go and the catching system work around this problem pretty well. You can grind without having to use your strongest Pokemon as fighters to carry the brunt of the load. This allows you to prepare for future badness by preparing what I refer to as my second string – Pokemon you don’t care much about that you grind with the ones you do care about so you have a backup plan when stuff hits the fan. In my case, I got Pokemon such as Cheesethief the Rattata, Siren the Jigglypuff, and Gaia the Diglett up to the same levels as my first string Pokemon like Selkie the Vulpix, Sonny the Drowzee, and Lucy the Psyduck. If I lose anyone significant in future chapters, I’ll have some Pokemon already trained up and ready to step in thanks to grinding them all at once. Plus, the team members that I’ve had the longest like Thorn, Vincent, and Grave didn’t get overleveled, so I still had challenging battles lying ahead of me. Grind your second string when grinding Pokemon you really care about having on your team and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
That’s it for the adventures of Fuzz and Block in this chapter. Next time we’ll dive into the S.S. Anne as well as facing the Vermillion City gym leader, Lieutenant Surge. If you’ve been enjoying this series be sure to leave a comment with your favorite Pokemon on the team so far, and if you’re playing along with me I’d love to hear about how your own Nuzlocke is going!