The time has come, adventurers. Block and his Eevee partner Fuzz have worked hard to reach this moment. It’s been a costly road we’ve walked since Pokemon Tower – even the extensive training during our sweaty workout montage took its toll on the team. But in the last chapter that training paid off when Block got to watch Giovanni and the rest of Team Rocket empty out of Silph Co with their tails between their legs. Finally, we can return to the real matter at hand: the Pokemon League challenge. The time has come at last to face Sabrina, one of the most terrifying gym leaders of the Kanto league.
It’s been a long time since Fuzz and Block have faced a gym leader, and the team has grown a lot in that time. For those who may just be dropping in after some time of not reading or even if this is your first ever time reading about my Nuzlocke shenanigans, here is where the team stands now. We have Thorn the Victreebel, essentially our starter for this run and the MVP of the team with that sweet grass coverage. Next is Grave the Golem, a mighty ground/rock type Pokemon who bears the heavy burden of being the team tank. Next is Vincent the Pidgeot, who has been with us nearly as long as Thorn and…honestly is probably just around out of my lazy lack of motivation to train a replacement with a better typing for the upcoming challenges. Then there’s Selkie the Ninetales; beautiful, deadly, and the fire type expert of the team. Our very important water-type position is covered by Lucy the Golduck, who has balanced attack stats and solid special defense. Finally, the newest member of the team, Runnypants the Alakazam, fills that oh-so-important psychic-type slot and will be the team member leading the vanguard against Sabrina. He may be new, but a heavy burden rests upon his shoulders.
In order to enter the Saffron City gym you have to have at least one Pokemon at level 45. As it turned out, the shenanigans at Silph Co had increased my entire team to level 45, so getting into the gym was a pretty simple matter. Now if you aren’t familiar with the structure of Sabrina’s gym, what’s important to know is that it is chock full of the teleportation pads that we learned to love so much during our time at Silph Co. The gym consists of a series of skyscraper-shaped platforms meant to invoke the city skyline, each of which contains two to four teleportation panels to send you elsewhere in the gym. A big part of navigating Sabrina’s gym is keeping a cool head and realizing where you’ve arrived after a teleport.
From the entryway into the gym there’s only one way to go, and from the platform that teleporter led to I decided to take the warp on the bottom left. This put me on the rooftop of a lovely young fellow named Johan who would serve as my first trainer battle. He had a level 41 Slowbro, which made me a bit nervous simply because Runnypants wouldn’t resist water as well as he resisted psychic, but it turned out I should have been worried for a different reason. The goofy thing spammed Yawn at me, and if you’re not familiar with Yawn well, it’s a frustrating move. It’s a guaranteed hit and at the end of the next turn, it’s guaranteed sleep. If you don’t want your Pokemon to fall asleep then you have to switch them out, but doing so can put them in danger of a big hit. In my case, my next-best option for Slowbro was Thorn, who would have taken serious damage from a psychic attack. Luckily Johan really liked using Yawn, so eventually I realized I’d just have to let sleep take me and put him in his place pretty quickly.
With Johan beat I went to the bottom right teleporter and then took the bottom right again from the platform I landed on – only to end up at the entrance! As it turns out I hadn’t realized that there was only one legitimate path off of Johan’s platform and the other two simply led back to the building where I’d started. I jumped back onto the entrance teleporter and then took a path using the bottom left, top right, and then top left. All that jumping around led me to a channeller named Stacy who would serve as my second opponent.
Channelers are ghost-type trainers and they do share a weakness with psychic in the form of ghost-type moves. Of course, ghost is super effective against itself, so if you are using a ghost type – or if, like me, you are using a psychic type with a ghost-type move in its arsenal – you’ll want to be careful against the channelers. The other thing to be careful about is that Haunter runs Sucker Punch, a somewhat powerful dark-type attack that has priority over other moves. Haunter has low physical attack, but if you’re using a Haunter or perhaps an Alakazam like I was, then your defenses are probably low also. Runnypants took about 30% from a Sucker Punch so I definitely had to make sure I kept him healed up, as a crit would do almost 50%.
Once I took out Stacy I headed to the bottom right teleporter which sent me hurtling towards Amanda, an ace trainer. Amanda only had one Pokemon, a Jynx, but darn it if that thing didn’t have Ice Punch. Runnypants has terrible defense so similar to Sucker Punch, I was taking a decent amount of damage and had to mind my health. Luckily I was doing a lot more damage to Jynx with Shadow Ball, so we finished that battle in short order. From there I took the bottom right teleporter then the top right, which pitted me against a second channeler, and the top left teleporter after that battle brought me to one more psychic, Preston. The only notable thing about Preston is that his Pokemon was a Hypno. Pour one out for Sonny, the psychic type we thought would be handling this gym before his untimely demise at the hands of a Kingler.
The top left teleporter on Preston’s platform is the warp to Sabrina, so after taking a moment to heal and save I dove into the battle. I had a specific strategy planned for Sabrina, and that strategy solidified in my mind when she led with Mr. Mime. I anticipated it to set up screens, so I began to set up with Calm Mind. I needed Runnypants to have the hitting power to one shot my opponents with Shadow Ball, a move that was super effective but not STAB. Calm Mind would let me do that while also protecting me from enemy Shadow Balls. Unfortunately I lost count of Light Screen turns and ended up in a bit of a bind. Thanks to a special defense drop from a Psychic I was still taking decent damage from Mr. Mime and Runnypants only had about 40% left. If I healed, I risked a second Light Screen being put up; if I didn’t, I risked getting killed by Sabrina’s next Pokemon if it was faster. I decided to be risky and avoid a second Light Screen, blasting Mr. Mime with Shadow Ball and putting him in the ground.
The next few moments went in slow motion. Sabrina sent out her Alakazam – clearly her ace at level 44 – and I immediately clicked Shadow Ball. I regretted it immediately, too; the text made it clear that Sabrina’s Alakazam was getting the first move. Runnypants, despite his athletic name, was not faster. I braced myself in those seconds for the worst, but there was hope. Alakazam used Psychic! The combination of my type resistance and the Calm Mind bonus reduced the attack to almost nothing, and Runnypants blasted Alakazam out of the park with a Shadow Ball.
At that point the battle against Sabrina was essentially over. I was able to heal up against her Slowbro and even though the goofy thing put me to sleep with Yawn (is that the only move Slowbro learns?), her final Pokemon Jynx didn’t have much it could do to me. There were some miscalculations and scary moments on my part, but Block and his team managed to power through and earn their fifth gym badge! The other reward is Calm Mind, a move which I know how to use a lot better thanks to that awkward miscount with the Light Screen.
With Sabrina done my next goal was to reach Koga in Fuschia City. I’d already carved a path about halfway there from Lavender Town along the routes to the south, so I followed the trail I started during the sweaty workout montage and found myself on route 14, just below a row of punks who were blocking me from the tall grass where I could get my capture. Oh, I did do one other thing before that – I paid a visit to Celadon Department Store to restock all my medications, including lemonade, as well as restoring my ultra balls after my previous grinding session and even buying a new TM for Vincent the Pidgeot: U-Turn, one of my favorite moves in all of Pokemon.
This area is pretty uneventful. Each of the punk guys has one or two level 38 Pokemon, and defeating all of them gets you two things. One, you can pick up the nugget lying by the edge of the grass; two, you can actually enter the grass and start looking for an encounter. The most common Pokemon on this route are things like Pidgeotto, Weepinbell, and Venemoth, but I have all of those already. When I finally got the rare spawn for the route, it was a Tauros – not necessarily something I was jumping to add to my team right away but hey, it could be worse. I kid you not, I hit this stupid thing with not one, not two, but FOUR excellent throws and it broke out every single time. Then it ran away, taking with it my one capture opportunity for route 14. Most of the time I like what Let’s Go brings to the table, but moments like that help me to be excited for a proper Pokemon game in November.
Heading west from the southern end of route 14 puts you on route 15, and there are a few more trainers and some grass here. Pissed off by the Tauros incident and too impatient to look for a rare encounter, I just skipped capturing anything here because it was taking too long to encounter something that I didn’t have already. Besides, I had a vision in my head of what I wanted to accomplish this chapter and knew that I had just enough time to do it: I wanted to beat Koga and get two gym badges in one day. I pressed through the trainers on route 15 to Fuschia City and picked up the assistant’s clothes in the building connecting the route to the town, then headed straight for the gym.
Koga’s gym requires you to have registered 50 unique Pokemon in your Pokedex. This is why capturing as a form of grinding is pretty much required in a Let’s Go Nuzlocke – if you followed the traditional capturing rules for a Nuzlocke challenge, the chance that you’d have 50 different Pokemon registered at this point would be pretty low. In my case I had something like 62 registered so it was pretty easy for me to get inside. Now for those unfamiliar with Koga’s gym, the challenge here is all about navigating an invisible maze. Every now and again some smoke appears to guide your way, but basically you have to navigate around trainers while also trying to figure out where the heck you’re supposed to walk.
The trainers here use a variety of poison types – when facing them, you’ll want to be careful about what their secondary typing is. For example, if you are using a ground type to try and deal with these poison Pokemon, you’ll do neutral damage to grass/poisons and won’t be able to hit flying/poisons at all. For this reason psychic type may be a better option, but watch out for ghost/poisons and bug/poisons as they have potentially super effective damage that they can hit you with too. Runnypants did the majority of the work for my team but you can always bring in a Pokemon that actually has an advantage against the secondary typing of the Pokemon you’re fighting if you have concerns.
Because most of the Pokemon in this gym have a couple of different weaknesses to exploit, it actually is a bit easier than Sabrina’s gym in my view. Technically on the badge display screen, Koga’s gym is visible even before Sabrina’s, but because of the order of events in the game and because their gyms are the same stature from a level perspective, you can do them in any order and may find Sabrina’s to come first more naturally. The main thing you want to watch out for in Koga’s gym is your move PP – lots of these trainers like to spam Protect, which costs you a use of your move with no benefit. I ended up having to use an ether to recharge the Psychic PP on Runnypants.
Because Koga’s strategy focuses on toxic stall, setting up with Calm Minds would not have been a great strategy here. I also didn’t need the power boost as much from a mathematical perspective. Runnypants hitting with a super effective Shadow Ball is much weaker than Runnypants hitting with a super effective Psychic (160 Power versus 270 Power, respectively), which means that this gym was really his time to shine more so than Sabrina’s. I was able to one shot all of Koga’s Pokemon and walk away with a Soul Badge in short order.
We started this chapter with four gym badges – now we have six! Fuzz and Block are well on their way to the Pokemon League now with only a couple of obstacles left standing in the way. In the next chapter we’ll actually take some time to see if there’s anything worth picking up in Fuschia City, and from there start to make our way to Cinnabar Island to face the next gym challenge. Be sure to come by next Wednesday for even more Nuzlocke shenanigans, and thanks for reading!