After our tragic loss in the last chapter of Operation Fuzzblock, the team needs a new hero. Someone to rise up to face the challenge of not one but two upcoming gyms. Additionally, the entire crew needs a bit of a boost to be ready to take on Team Rocket at Silph Co. With so much training needed, the time has come for the most important part of any adventure show – the sweaty workout montage. I recommend listening to a catchy workout playlist along with this post to sustain the same energy our heroes need to power through their exercise – I used Velocity and Boss by The Well-Red Mage during writing.
I decided that my new sixth team member would be Unseelie the Gastly, who I just caught in Pokemon Tower last chapter. Gastly (eventually Haunter and then Gengar) has a psychic weakness that might prove problematic against Sabrina, but she would also be my best offensive weapon against Sabrina. With the speed to act first and the power to kill first, Unseelie could blast through Sabrina’s Pokemon before she suffered any repercussions. And against Koga’s poison types, Unseelie would have a four times resistance protecting her from any harm. It’s a risky choice but it’s a risk that I feel is my best option.
Since I didn’t see anywhere on route 12 to capture Pokemon the last time I was there, I decided to head west from Celadon onto route 16 to grind levels for Unseelie. To get there, I had to fight my way through a second sleeping Snorlax. Last chapter I didn’t talk much about the fight itself, so I’ll share about it here. The sleeping Snorlax are level 34 and have pretty high health and defenses. From an attack perspective they have moves like Body Slam and Lick, which means that a good rock type is generally going to be safe from any attacks that Snorlax can hit them with. However, Snorlax has a trick up its sleeve for the battle: Rest. Rest fully heals the Pokemon, including their status problem, in exchange for putting them to sleep. If your attack is more than a two hit KO, rest can be a serious problem and allow Snorlax to stall the battle. If this happens, I recommend using an X Attack to give you the boost you need in order to get a two hit KO.
Since this was my first visit to route 16, I actually had an opportunity to get a capture here. Route 16 features mostly Pokemon I already had in my party, stuff like Rattata/Raticate and Pidgey/Pidgeotto. The one truly new Pokemon that appeared here that wasn’t a rare capture was Doduo and its evolution Dodrio. I ended up catching a Doduo which I decided to name Twitter – seemed appropriate for a bunch of heads arguing with each other all the time. Once I got my route capture, I started experimenting with which Pokemon provided the most experience so I could capture chain them.
I’ve spoken before about grinding and shared that you want to choose a Pokemon to chain that meets in the middle between ease of catching and experience given. On this route the unevolved Pokemon are the easiest to catch but also give the least amount of experience. Dodrio seems like it could give me the most experience if caught properly but it has the highest catch rate, meaning you’re unlikely to combo multipliers like excellent catch and first throw all at once. I had the most luck with Pidgeotto, who generally gave 500-700 depending on whether my catch was great or excellent and whether it was the first throw or a subsequent throw. However, as my chain got going I would unlock Pidgeotto that had significant size bonuses. A typical large or small Pokemon might be worth 1000 experience, but for an extra large or extra small I got as many as 4000 EXP in a single capture! This is why it’s important to stick with whatever Pokemon you choose to chain – it’s the accumulation of catch combo bonuses that really allows you to start benefiting from the grind.
You know how every gym has requirements to get inside? One of the gym requirements that can be the hardest to meet in a Nuzlocke run is the requirement to have 50 Pokemon registered in the Pokedex, which is necessary to battle Koga in Fuschia City. I decided to use my training montage to get as many of the Pokemon hanging out in my box evolved as I could manage, switching other past captures in and out of party all while gaining levels for Unseelie. She evolved into Haunter during the course of the training, and below you can see a slide show of all the other evolutions that happened while I was training if you want to know what all we have in the back in case of future tragedy.
I trained until Unseelie reached level 38, which put her even with the rest of my party. I needed my team to be sitting around level 40 for me to be ready to take on Silph Co’s two strongest trainers – to get there, I decided to head down route 12 and carve the path to Fuschia City. That way once I finished Silph Co, I’d be able to fly south with Sky Dash and take on Koga right away. I returned to the site of Sonny’s unfortunate demise at the hands of a Kingler and continued my journey south. There’s a building right by the Kingler trainer with a man inside who has lost his memory. If you remind him that he’s called Mr. Dazzling, he’ll give you the Dazzling Gleam TM. This is one of the stronger fairy moves that will be available to you, and fairy is a solid typing as it hits fighting and dragon types for super effective damage (dark too, but there are no dark types in Let’s Go). I went ahead and slapped this on Unseelie right away, in addition to Thunderbolt and Mega Drain (she already knew Shadow Ball).
While the upper half of route 12 featured exclusively water type Pokemon in trainer battles, the lower half has a lot more variety. They’re also much stronger as we learned last chapter – the typical level is 36. There’s a coach trainer here with even higher levels: her Butterfree is level 38 and her Clefable is level 39. You’ll notice that her strategy is to try to inflict status problems, specifically sleep – don’t let her do it. If she gets you to sleep heal up with an Awakening immediately. This coach trainer specializes in Dream Eater, a psychic move with base 100 power that drains HP from the target to heal the user. In my case I was using the poison type Thorn the Victreebel in this battle – had I been hit with Dream Eater I may very well have lost my “starter.” This coach trainer is worthwhile to fight as she gives you almost $4000 as well as the Dream Eater TM.
On this route when I reached the grass, the first thing to pop up was actually a Chansey. Remember how your catch combos carry over to future routes? That’s how you get rare captures as your first encounter so you can actually add them to your party. Chansey isn’t a Pokemon I have any particular plans to use, but I caught her regardless and added Nurture to the Pokemon box. Continuing south from here will put you on route 13, and in this area you can see tall grass before you can actually reach it. My philosophy with that is to not count a Pokemon as your “encounter” until you can actually reach the grass.
Route 13 has an odd structure. It is a maze of fences with trainers scattered throughout, with the route’s tall grass on the east side of the structure behind a bush that requires Chop Down. Most of the trainers here have Pokemon somewhere in the range of 37-39 with a few on level 40. That’s right around the range I wanted my team to reach but I didn’t want to jump to Silph Co mid-route; from a writing perspective there’s no way I could start such a large “dungeon” 60% of the way through a chapter. I wanted to push through to Fuschia City so I decided to keep going along route 13 despite the fact that this area would probably overlevel my team and realistically might be a bit harder than Silph Co itself.
To give you an idea of some of the danger of taking on this route with roughly even Pokemon, I faced a trainer right at the beginning of route 13 who had a Sandshrew and a Sandslash. I had Unseelie out front and I was able to handle Sandshrew pretty easily with Mega Drain. Then Sandslash came out. Now I don’t know what Sandslash’s natural level-up moves are, but an image popped into my head of my frail Haunter getting smashed with a super effective Earthquake – with STAB, we’re talking 300 power. While Unseelie would likely outspeed Sandslash, the likelihood of her getting a 1-hit-KO with a non-stab attack seemed low, even if it was super effective. I switched out to Thorn and sure enough, that Sandslash knew Earthquake. I’d narrowly avoided losing Unseelie just after training her up to join the party!
In the tall grass I encountered a Pokemon I certainly didn’t expect to see and that I wasn’t all that excited to capture: Farfetch’d. I wasn’t hurting for normal/flying types between Vincent the Pidgeot (who was currently in my party) as well as Beaky the Fearow and Twitter the Dodrio. Farfetch’d is also likely the worst of all of them as it does not evolve and so its stats are less impressive overall. But hey, a capture is a capture, so Unlikely the Farfetch’d became an operative in Operation Fuzzblock. What I wish I had caught here was a Krabby – I saw some off in the distance when I first entered the route and it would be nice to have a backup water type in case anything happened to Lucy.
Speaking of Lucy, she was doing pretty well for herself on route 13. I found a strategy that worked pretty effectively for her against physical attackers. She opens with Scald and generally inflicts a burn. While the burned opponent does reduced damage, I can safely use medicine to heal her up from her previous encounter, or any damage she took from the opponent at full power if they were faster than her. Lucy also has a pretty wide variety of move types (psychic, fighting, water, ground) and a balanced attack and special attack that made her a good fit for fighting lots of different enemy types as I progressed along the route. She got me all the way to route 14, which weirdly just kind of transitions directly out of route 13 in the middle of the fence maze.
As route 14 curved south again after route 13’s western progression, I put Unseelie back at the front of my party to get some more EXP. At this point most of my Pokemon were level 41-42, higher than I wanted to be before tackling Silph Co, but I didn’t want to give up halfway to Fuschia City and have to return to this area later. As it turns out, that is exactly what I should have done. An ace trainer who hangs out on route 40 has level 40 Pokemon in her team, just under the levels of my own Pokemon. Her lead was Vaporeon and mine was Unseelie. I had Thunderbolt in my arsenal and while I figured it wouldn’t be a one-hit-KO, I also figured Vaporeon wouldn’t have a move that would be super effective. Unseelie let loose with a Thunderbolt and did around 30%. Then Vaporeon used Surf.
Now Surf has 90 base power, which means that with STAB the power hits 135. That’s a bit high but by level 40 that isn’t typically going to be killing power. Surf is a neutral hit on Haunter, too, so I wouldn’t expect it to be enough to be a one-hit-KO. But as it turns out, a neutral Surf with no critical hit was more than enough to put Unseelie in the ground. So after training my Haunter specifically to help me handle the next two gyms, she was put into the ground.
So what did we learn here? The mistake in this situation was trying to “grind” in an area that was actually more difficult than where I needed to go next. I got attached to the idea of getting to Fuschia City and made decisions based on chapter flow rather than focusing on the game mechanics, and those decisions cost me a Pokemon. So next time I’m going to train up someone to join the team and then get my party to Silph Co so I can progress the story and go where I’m supposed to. Will we go an entire chapter without anyone dying? Visit Adventure Rules next week to find out!