Challenge Choose Carefully - Playing through Platinum with 1PP moves (Completed!)

PP is, theoretically, a way to balance better moves by giving them less uses. In practice, though, most moves have too much PP for it to matter much. Even moves with 5 PP often only require a modicum of restraint to maintain. This applies especially to individual battles, where PP is usually a complete non-factor unless dealing with a dedicated stall team. And in the campaign, there's none of those to be found. PP just doesn't work that well. I find this unfortunate, since I enjoy these kinds of resource systems where each technique has its own limit instead of a global resource pool. So I wanted to try a run that made PP a more effectively limited resource. Not just in the long run, which I've done before, but limited for each and every battle, and what better way to do that than by restricting PP to the smallest usable amount – 1!

To formally lay out the rules:
  • What is “1 PP”?: The obvious answer would be to hack the game so that all moves have 1 PP, but this is very undesirable for two reasons. The main one is because doing this also applies this restriction to my opponents. This degenerates games to stalling out my opponent's PP (mainly with switching), which I don't find interesting at all. The other reason is because it makes route-crawling incredibly tedious. Before I could grow Leppa Berries it would just involve a ton of trips to the Pokemon Center, and that's not something that adds anything to the run. So, for how I'll be implementing this rule: in any given battle, I can only use each of my moves 1 time. If I've used all my moves once, then all I can do is switch out or futilely throw balls (“struggle balls”).
  • Team size matching: I can never use more Pokemon than my opponent. For Multi Battles with an AI partner, I can match the opponent with the most Pokemon. If it's just me versus two opponents, then I can match the sum of their team sizes. Also, when I've used this restriction in the past, my general response to maintaining it for normal trainers/wild Pokemon has frankly been “who cares”, but for this run I'm going to strictly enforce it for everything. I think the primary restriction of this run loses a lot of its point if I can effectively gain a lot of extra PP by outnumbering my opponent.
  • No items in battle (except struggle balls) and Set mode: Standard stuff.

Getting Started

First choice is the starter. Offense is the name of the game here, and Infernape is the obvious choice for that. While the high mixed offenses and strong STABs people associate with Infernape are definitely very nice, some of its best aspects aren't quite what you'd expect. One is that it's the only starter that learns Leer. There's very few damaging moves early on, so having a non-damaging move that effectively contributes extra damage is very helpful.

The first rival battle demonstrates the problem of having so few damaging moves. In fact, this battle is completely impossible! Even if I have the absolute strongest Chimchar, a Leer into a crit Scratch can never OHKO his Piplup. I don't even have PokeBalls yet to emulate struggling... So after my Leer+Scratch fails to OHKO, I have to use Leer until I faint. Thankfully winning this battle is optional so this challenge can go somewhere. After leaving Rowan's lab for the second time, I get the Return TM. While it's only 28 BP, any damaging move is crucial right now. With Leer, Scratch, and Return, Chimchar is able to consistently KO Level 2 Pokemon to grind some exp, getting up to Level 7 to learn Ember. With 3 damaging moves, one of which is STAB, I feel comfortable to progress.

Route 202

First I fight a Lass with a Level 5 Starly, which I only need Leer/Scratch/Return to KO because the Return crits, though I still had Ember to use so it didn't matter. I'm reduced to 12/24 HP, which gets me close to triggering Blaze. The next trainer has a Bidoof, which I Leer then Scratch. It uses two Tackles that get me into Blaze range, so my Ember afterwards incinerates it. The last trainer on this route has a Burmy, which is simply OHKOd by my Blaze Ember. While Burmy would normally have Protect at this level (which is, to say the least, a problematic move), this trainer actually has a custom set with only Hidden Power. Handy!

After defeating Burmy, Chimchar gets to Level 9 and gets its other crucial earlygame advantage over the other starters – Taunt. This lets it prevent dangerous time-wasting moves like Growl. I make the difficult choice to get rid of Scratch for it. Return is inferior for now but will quickly surpass Scratch, Ember is obviously too good to get rid of, and Leer will only get more useful as Chimchar learns more physical moves. It's unfortunate to lose a damaging-move for a move that's not always helpful, but Taunt is very important for some fights.

Route 204

I take a quick stroll through Jubilife City, skipping the Pokemon Center because Blaze is such an important source of extra damage. Instead I head north to Route 204 and catch my second Pokemon, the mighty Kricketot at Level 4. Its only attacking move right now is Bide, and that's what it's going to be used for. Bide can deal incredible damage for 1 PP, so even though Kricketot has nothing else it's still useful when used right. I also get “lucky” and catch mine with a Metronome, which if you think about it for a second is just some sort of cosmic joke.

Now to fight more trainers. It's actually not in my interest to train Kricketot for now due to how Bide works, but Chimchar is more than happy to take the reigns with Blaze active. Return and Ember are enough to KO one trainer's Shinx and another's Budew. There's also a trainer with Magikarp, but its relatively high defense and Fire-resistance means that Chimchar can't actually beat this fearsome beast. I head back to Jubilife and go to the school, where Return+Ember downs the Bidoof there while Ember alone defeats a Starly. With all possible trainers defeated for now, it's time for a rematch with Barry.

Barry (Route 203)
(Full playlist)

Barry leads with a Level 7 Starly. Due to its Naive nature lowering its special defense, Blaze Ember OHKOs, but not before it almost KOs Chimchar with Quick Attack, taking it from 5 to 1 HP. This is perfect though, since it lets Chimchar faint the turn it uses Taunt on Piplup. Piplup would normally be a huge issue for this run, since it's high-leveled, decently bulky, has Growl, and resists my STAB. But with this well-timed Taunt, it's forced to attack for at least 2 more turns when Kricketot is out, which lets it Bide on two guaranteed Pounds. These do 7 damage each, which reflect into a 28 HP Bide, a perfect OHKO.

To Oreburgh City

Now that Kricketot has gotten its perfect KO on Piplup, it can get exp since pretty much anything going forwards is going to be stronger than Piplup Pounds and you need to actually, you know, survive to use Bide. Training it is kind of annoying though, since most trainers' random AI is very uncooperative without Taunt to goad them into using attacking moves for Bide. So it's basically impossible for Kricketot to beat Pokemon by itsef. And due to team matching, I can't use Chimchar to help it unless the opponent also has 2 or more Pokemon.

The first trainer I fight on Route 203 is a bit tricky. They start with Kricketot, and I lead with my own for exp then go to Chimchar and OHKO with Ember. But now that I've used my strongest move, Zubat is an issue. I start with Leer, then Taunt before switching back to Kricketot to use Bide. Taunt will last for at least 1 of the Bide turns, and while I unfortunately get the quickest Taunt Zubat uses Leech Life on the second Bide turn regardless. 2 Leech Lifes don't actually deal a ton of damage reflected back though, so now I go back to Chimchar and barely KO with Return on its -1 defense. This attack was delayed until now so that it didn't heal the damage slightly from Leech Lifes.

The next two trainers only have one Pokemon, and while this means Kricketot won't get exp it does make them much simpler. Both Shinx and Machop faint to Leer+Return+Ember. The other two trainers on this route will need to wait, though. One has a Psyduck which is too bulky to go down right now, and the other has 4 Pokemon which is flat-out more Pokemon than my 3 damaging moves can handle. I also run into a wild Abra, which I realize I can easily catch due to Taunt. Teleport is a nice little timesaver before you can Fly.

Building Up My Team

Clearly, I need another Pokemon. My initial plan was to catch a Level 9 or 10 Psyduck in the Oreburgh Gate underground, but I made a dumb mistake and didn't realize this area required Rock Smash to access (the levels should have been a giveaway). Psyduck can be caught at a lower level in the main area, but then they don't start with Water Gun which makes them very difficult to train. I thought about the best alternative to my foiled plan, and decided the best Pokemon would be a Machop ahead in Route 207. While these can theoretically be obtained up to Level 8, I honestly couldn't find one at this level so I settled for Level 7. It comes with Low Kick and Leer to assist with damage, and I can teach it Rock Smash too, obtained at the start of Oreburgh Gate. Chimchar can also learn this and it would be pretty helpful right now, but sadly its status as an HM will screw Chimchar up a lot after the earlygame. So it's not worth it.

With a second Pokemon that can proactively attack, I go back to Route 203 and fight the 4 Pokemon trainer. Kricketot weaves in and out for every Pokemon to get exp, but it doesn't contribute anything. Machop OHKOs Bidoof with Low Kick, Chimchar OHKOs Abra with Return and Budew with Ember, then Leers followed by Taunt against Starly. This lets me go to Machop and OHKO with Rock Smash while facing no risk of Growl. I then return to Oreburgh Gate and fight the trainers there. The first one has two Pokemon so Kricketot can get some exp. They start with Starly, and I use Bide. It has 2/3 attacking moves and I only need to see one, so that's pretty consistent. Bide doesn't OHKO, so I go back to Chimchar and finish with Ember. Shinx comes out, and Kricketot makes a quick cameo for exp while Chimchar OHKOs with Leer into Return. I was surprised that could OHKO, but Return is getting stronger and Chimchar is pretty high level now at 13. Chimchar also got weirdly unlucky and took a ton of damage in this battle, since Starly went for Quick Attack on the turn it would faint, and Shinx crit twice. This is actually beneficial though, since Blaze is active again. It uses this to first KO the single Bidoof trainer with Ember and Return, and then to finally deal with the Psyduck. I start with Ember (used first so Water Sport doesn't dampen it), then Leer+Return to finish it off.

Oreburgh Mine and Gym

Unfortunately, my Blaze quickly burns out this time since it's Rock city for a while now. I heal up and enter the mine. Machop deals with a Level 6 Geodude with Leer+Rock Smash+Low Kick. That might seem excessive, but Geodude can be really annoying with Defense Curl. Chimchar then uses Ember and Return to deal with their Machop. This gets it to Level 14 where it gets a huge boost by evolving into Monferno and learning Mach Punch over Return. The other trainer only has a Level 9 Geodude, which Machop deals with the same way as the last. It gets to Level 10 and learns Karate Chop over Focus Energy, bringing it up to 3 STAB moves.

Now for the gym. The first trainer just has a single Geodude which Machop has no issue with, but the second has two Pokemon and Kricketot really needs to evolve. Machop uses Rock Smash and Karate Chop for the first Geodude (Defense Curl doesn't matter). Now Onix is out, and Kricketot needs to switch in to get exp to evolve from this. Unfortunately it's not necessarily as easy to switch in and out as it's been before, since Onix likes to use Harden. It does just that as I switch out, so I go for Bide. Unless Onix uses 2 Rock Throws, Kricketot survives. I actually don't see any Rock Throws, which is somewhat unfortunate since 1 Rock Throw means Bide OHKOs, but oh well. I get 1 Tackle and 2 Hardens (including an attack from the turn Bide unleashes), which does some damage. I go back to Machop and Leer again, and fortunately don't see any more Hardens as Low Kick KOs the somewhat-weakened +2 behemoth. Low Kick also has an incredible 120 BP versus Onix, so that helps. With this exp, Machop gets to Level 12 and Kricketot gets to Level 10 and evolves into Kricketune. It learns Fury Cutter and I teach it Rock Smash too, though neither really matter.

Roark

Kricketune leads versus his Geodude and naturally goes for Bide. While I'm 2HKOd by Rock Throw, Geodude is highly likely to use its first turn setting up Stealth Rock. It does just that, and Kricketune opens a can of dededeleeewhoopass on Geodude with Bide after it Rock Throws once. Roark sends out his Onix, and I switch in Machop. Unlike the one in the gym it doesn't have Harden, so Machop can easily Leer+Low Kick to OHKO it. Last is his Cranidos, and I swap to Monferno. With Stealth Rock damage, Monferno can only survive 2 Headbutts, so it uses those turns to use Leer then Mach Punch. I get the OHKO, though this is a damage range. But it's also not a big deal if I miss it. Monferno would faint, then Machop would KO with Karate Chop as Roark uses his Potion.

And so, my team has conquered the very rough earlygame for this run!. When most moves are 2-3HKOs in the earlygame, it's very difficult to play with 1 PP. While normal trainers won't be as meticulous in the future (especially since I'm not babying Kricketot anymore), boss fights definitely don't get easier, especially some you might not expect.

Team Status:

Monferno
Level 14
Mach Punch/Leer/Ember/Taunt

Kricketune Level 11
Bide/Growl/Fury Cutter/Rock Smash

Machop Level 13
Low Kick/Leer/Rock Smash/Karate Chop
 
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I love reading your challenge run stories!
This sounds like a pretty serious handicap, so I'm looking forward to seeing how you'll overcome the obstacles this time.
(It's always amazing how you've managed to plan everything out!)
 
I am...extremely curious how this proceeds as the game progresses. Juggling shit moves in the early game is one thing, but the rest of the game is only going to get more tight. Looking forward to it.
 
I love this idea! Looking forward to reading your progress.
Machop uses Rock Smash and Low Kick for the first Geodude (Defense Curl doesn't matter). Now Onix is out, and Kricketot needs to switch in to get exp to evolve from this. Unfortunately it's not necessarily as easy to switch in and out as it's been before, since Onix likes to use Harden. It does just that as I switch out, so I go for Bide. Unless Onix uses 2 Rock Throws, Kricketot survives. I actually don't see any Rock Throws, which is somewhat unfortunate since 1 Rock Throw means Bide OHKOs, but oh well. I get 1 Tackle and 2 Hardens (including an attack from the turn Bide unleashes), which does some damage. I go back to Machop and Leer again, and fortunately don't see any more Hardens as Low Kick KOs the somewhat-weakened +2 behemoth
Am I missing something or did you break the rules by using Low Kick twice against the second gym trainer?
 
With Roark defeated, it's time to go back to Jubilife and head north. But first, I'm ambushed by Team Galactic. It's a fairly simple double battle with Dawn against a Glameow and a Stunky. Monferno instantly gets rid of Glameow with Mach Punch, and Turtwig weakens Stunky with Tackle. Monferno uses Leer the next turn to amplify Turtwig's Tackle, then finishes the battle the turn after that with Ember.

Reassessing My Team

My current team was designed for Roark, and while it worked well for that I have to think long-term now. Monferno is an obvious pick to keep, but the other two are suspect. Kricketune is, frankly, an awful Pokemon whose only saving grace is Bide. But Kricketune's defenses and myriad of weaknesses make it pretty bad at doing even that. While it would still work in the short term, it will contribute absolutely nothing long-term. So it's leaving. Honestly, even using it past the first Barry fight was probably a mistake; raising a Psyduck to learn Water Gun would have been easier and just as productive. But oh well. Machop suffers from the inverse problem: while it could be a solid pick lategame, it will be pretty bad versus most of the upcoming boss fights. So it's also gone, leaving only Monferno remaining.

To fill the void, I need to look no further than the other side of the Ravaged Path Here I can find Starly around Level 10. While they've been available since the first route, Starly wasn't worth training for Roark for obvious reasons. But now, it's time for the Starly line to enact its typical demolishment of Sinnoh. Well, up to 4 times, anyways. The first one I catch is Rash with a minimal Special Defense IV, but it also has 20+ Attack and Speed so I roll with it. It already has Wing Attack at this level in addition to Tackle and Quick Attack. I skip the trainers for now so I can go to Floaroma and get the Pluck TM. I teach this to Starly to give it a 4th move and a second 60 BP STAB, so it's doing very well right now.

To The Windworks

I go back to the previous route where Starly shows its prowess. It uses its 2 Flying STABs to OHKO an Aroma Lady's Budew and Cherubi, then does the same to a Bug Catcher's Wurmple and Kricketot. The double battle against the Pachirisu twins is a bit more involved, though. While they should have Growl, I reset and won this fight three times and they never used it, only Quick Attack. This is a godsend, though, since Pachirisu are not easy to KO right now. Monferno starts with Leer as Starly uses Tackle (I make sure to not use QA which will go before Leer). The following turn I focus on one of them with Ember and Quick Attack, getting rid of it. Then I Mach Punch and Wing Attack the remaining one, leaving it with just a little HP for my final attacing move, Pluck, to finish it off.

After this I go ahead to the Floaroma Meadow. The Galactic Grunts' Pokemon are unremarkable, and Starly has no issue dealing with them with its myriad STAB moves. It gets to Level 14 and evolves into Staravia afterwards, getting a fair bit stronger and much more durable with Intimidate.

But enough about this silly bird, for the strongest Pokemon has just become available. In front of the Valley Windworks, the infamous Pachirisu lays dormant, waiting for a powerful trainer. Like Kricketune, it learns Bide, but has stronger defenses and more importantly less weaknesses. While it's also mainly useful in the earlier part of the game, unlike Kricketune it can etch out more uses later with its helpful Electric STAB and the ability to actually get off Bide. All in all, an easy replacement. For now, though, it's more in line with Kricketot because its only other damaging move besides Bide is Quick Attack which barely does anything. As such I need two-Pokemon trainers to train it on. The first two Grunts in the Windworks only have one (which Staravia destroys), but the last has two so Pachirisu can get some exp. As Kricketot did several times before, Pachirisu dips in and out for this trainer just to get exp, as Staravia OHKOs both Glameow and Stunky with each of its Flying STABs.

Mars

Pachirisu leads for exp, then swaps to Staravia. It 2HKOs Zubat with its Flying STABs, and gets Toxic'd and a bit weakened. Now for her infamous Purugly. Staravia simply has to faint at this point, and Purugly is happy to oblige with Fake Out (accumulating Toxic damage) and Scratch. I use Quick Attack just because I can, not that it matters. Pachirisu is here for the first of many Bide KOs. Purugly has nothing but attacking moves, and they do a nearly perfect ~45% each, making this godcat a victim of its own hubris. With Purugly's enormous, curiously satanic, exp, Pachirisu gets to Level 13 and learns Spark, making it much more usable in normal battles now.

Route 205

Pachirisu celebrates its newfound (relative) independence by going 1v1 versus a trainer's Ponyta. Bide reflects 2 Embers for a good bit of damage, and then Spark finishes it off. Moving on a bit, I run into a Hiker with 3 Geodudes which exposes a temporary weakness of this team: Rock types. They resist Fire and Flying, and often are immune to Electric with an extra Ground typing. With only 1 Mach Punch to properly deal with them, I need help. So Machop makes a quick return to the team to deal with this trainer. Monferno uses Mach Punch and Ember to deal with the first Geodude, then Taunts to prevent Defense Curl and Leers the next. I go to Machop and Karate Chop it, then Leer+Rock Smash+Low Kick the final one.

There's also a trainer with a Pachirisu, which as seen earlier is a strenuous Pokemon to get rid of right now. Their lead Bioof is easily disposed of by Monferno's Mach Punch, and then the Pachirisu comes in. Monferno Leers and Embers before Taunting to prevent Charm, then swaps to Staravia. With this weakening, all it needs to add are its 2 Normal STABs, Tackle and Quick Attack.

Eterna Forest

This is the first time in this game I have an AI partner. Cheryl has a Chansey that is pretty bad at dealing damage, but good at surviving. Initially, I thought it would be better to avoid Multi battles whenever possible here, but after doing more of them I came to the conclusion that Cheryl is really helpful. Egg Bomb may not be a lot, but it's solid enough chip damage that's even being applied when I'm switching, and more notably, when I'm Biding.

The first multi battle has one trainer with yet another Pachirisu, and another with the entire Beautifly line. It's almost always the best strategy in these battles to get rid of one trainer first, and while Pachirisu is then the obvious target it's not quick to get rid of as previous battles have shown. I lead with Monferno to soften it (and Wurmple) with Leer. Despite attacking a -1 Defense Wurmple 9 levels lower with a 100 BP STAB, Chansey fails to OHKO it. Why I placed even the slightest ounce of faith in Chansey's attack is beyond me. Still, as pathetic as that display was, it's still damage I didn't need to use my precious PP for. The next turn Monferno Mach Punches Pachirisu and Chansey continues to impress with a missed Egg Bomb. I then go to Staravia to conserve Ember for the bugs, and it unfortunately gets paralyzed by Spark on the switch in as Chansey misses yet again. The next turn is more productive though as Staravia nearly finishes off Pachirisu with Quick Attack and Chansey finally hits another Egg Bomb and gets rid of Wurmple, replaced by Silcoon. But after that Pachirisu gets a very unfortunate crit on Staravia with Spark that KOs it, but at least Chansey continues its winning streak and KOs it back, leaving only one trainer remaining. Monferno then comes back in and uses its Ember to OHKO Silcoon. The last Pokemon is Beautifly, and Monferno uses its final PP to Taunt it for Pachirisu. I switch to it and Bide. Chansey hits 2 Egg Bombs for half of Beautifly's health as I do this, and Pachirisu takes two Tackles and finishes the battle with Bide. That was close.

The next fight is a breather with nothing but a pair of Abra, so I let Pachirisu get some exp. The battle goes perfectly, as Chansey 2HKOs one with Egg Bomb while Pachirisu takes two of the four Hidden Powers from the Abras and OHKOs the other one with Bide. The next one is another big bug battle, though. One trainer has two Burmy while the other has the entire Dustox line. Unlike the first Burmy, these have Protect and that's a bit of a crapshoot for 1PP. The first turn is very nice though, as Pachirisu Sparks Burmy with no Protect, and Chansey gets a crit Egg Bomb and OHKOs Wurmple who's replaced with Cascoon. After that Pachirisu again hits Burmy with no Protect, but it's only with Quick Attack so it's still around. Chansey misses with Egg Bomb. Pachirisu then goes for Bide, and Chansey gets nothing done during it because Burmy gets double Protect. Pachirisu reflects a Poison Sting and crit Tackle from Cascoon for around 40% while Chansey finally finishes the first Burmy with Egg Bomb and it's replaced with another. I then switch out to Monferno as Chansey weakens Burmy with an Egg Bomb. Monferno uses Taunt on Burmy to considerably move the odds in its favor for Protect – either the Taunt is protected and it's unlikely to happen the next turn, or the Taunt succeeds and there's no chance of Protect the following turn. I get the latter as Chansey weakens Cascoon further. Then Monferno KOs Burmy with Ember, and the Protect scourge is gone. Chansey continues chipping away at Cascoon, though it misses as I switch to Staravia. Staravia finishes it off with Quick Attack, leaving only Dustox remaining. But with both my Flying STABs remaining, Staravia easily 2HKOs it. At the end of the fight, Monferno tries to learn Flame Wheel. Getting rid of a move isn't an easy choice, but I decide on Mach Punch since the next gym is Grass

The last fight here is simple enough against a Psyduck and Meditite. Pachirisu KOs Psyduck with Spark and Quick Attack, then uses Bide. Over these 4 turns, Chansey manages to land 4 Egg Bombs in a row, but still fail to KO Meditite. Wow! Pachirisu gets hit by a Confusion, so Bide is enough to finish off Meditite.

Around Eterna City

The route before Eterna just has Fisherman which are simple enough with Pachirisu and Staravia, except one with 6 Magikarp, which is way too many Pokemon to deal with right now. The dastardly Magikarp strikes again! Bested again, I have to skip this trainer.

Below Eterna lies Cycling Road which isn't available, but I can at least get the Exp Share from Rowan's aide. I give it to Pachirisu since the next gym isn't kind to it. I then go to the right of Eterna, where most of the trainers are simple and Staravia learns Endeavor over Tackle. The exception is another Hiker, who I just ignore. His Pokemon are several levels above the previous Hiker, and Machop is very weak now, still at Level 13. And to make matters worse, I've forgotten Mach Punch. Sure hope there aren't many Hikers in the future...

The gym trainers are trivial with Staravia and Monferno. There's even one trainer with 3 Budews that I switched Monferno into a Water Sport, and it still almost OHKOd with Flame Wheel. Nothing to worry about with Grass types.

Gardenia

With basically the two best Pokemon at this point in the game with super-effective STABs, this is also trivial...you would think. In reality, Gardenia is so, so, awful. Every single Pokemon has solid to good physical bulk (even Roserade who is typically thought of as physically frail is fine for this point in the game), and with Reflect, Leech Seed, and healing items, PP is a huge concern. I actually leave the gym before fighting her to make a wonky set-up for Monferno: poisoned, and at 50/56 HP.

Monferno leads, but not to fight: it immediately switches to Pachirisu. Turtwig always uses this first turn to set up Reflect, and I don't want to waste PP. I initially Taunted this, but determined it was better to use later. So Pachirisu is going to stall it out instead, which works well since this is also the only Pokemon that's feasible to Bide without Taunt. Once Turtwig has set up Reflect, it likes to use Sunny Day. This isn't immediate like Reflect, but Pachirisu has two turns to wait for sun before its health gets too low from Razor Leaf. Pachirisu uses Quick Attack and Spark, and Turtwig uses Sunny Day on the second turn. With Reflect and Sunny Day up, it has no choice but to use Razor Leaf, which Pachirisu Bides for a KO.

Now Cherrim comes out. Pachirisu faints, and Monferno returns to Taunt Cherrim, but Cherrim is actually faster and uses Safeguard. The Safeguard itself doesn't matter though, just the lack of damage since Monferno needs to be at lower HP for Blaze later. So I spend another turn using Leer as Cherrim uses Magical Leaf to get me weakened enough. I then swap to Staravia, who is actually 3HKOd by Magical Leaf because it has such a bad special defense IV, so it needs an Oran Berry to survive. Because of Taunt (and Leer, though that couldn't have been used if Cherrim attacked Monferno the first turn), Cherrim can't use Leech Seed which would prevent Staravia from 2HKOing. Since I also got the Leer, Wing Attack does around 80% to Cherrim, though this is worse than dealing ~55% because of the Super Potion it prompts. Knowing that a heal is coming, I use Endeavor, then finish it the turn after that with Pluck. Taunt has worn off on the final turn, but Leech Seed doesn't matter at that point.

Her final Pokemon is Roserade, which Staravia picks at with Quick Attack before fainting. Monferno takes it place to finish the fight. Normally, Roserade will prioritize Stun Spore on Pokemon it can't KO, which is very annoying because Monferno only has one chance to get off a Blaze Flame Wheel. And since Monferno is slower and thus can't enter in Blaze range without getting KOd, it needs to be hit into it the turn it uses Flame Wheel. But since Monferno is poisoned, Roserade has no choice but to attack Monferno into Blaze, then get hit with a massive Flame Wheel. The Quick Attack earlier wasn't just for show, either – Flame Wheel does around 95% average so the chip guarantees the KO.

This was definitely a lot trickier than expected. I really did think this would be a trivial fight, but Gardenia definitely exposed how problematic 1PP could be. Next time, we've got some more-expectedly difficult fights coming up, so things will get a bit rocky...

Team Status:

Monferno
Level 20
Flame Wheel/Taunt/Leer/Ember

Staravia Level 19
Wing Attack/Pluck/Endeavor/Quick Attack

Pachirisu Level 19
Bide/Spark/Quick Attack/Charm
 
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I love how these kinds of challenges really bring out underrated Pokemon with peculiar movepools. I don't think I've ever seen bide Pachirisu being so useful. I can already see it exploiting super fang later on, if you decide to keep it around.
 
Team Galactic Mk2

Now for the Eterna Building. The first double battle is pretty draining with their 4 Pokemon, outnumbering my team. They start with 2 Zubat, and I have Pachirisu and Staravia. Pachirisu OHKOs one of the bats with Spark, while Staravia almost OHKOs the other with Wing Attack. Take a moment to gaze in awe at Pachirisu doing more damage than Staravia with a normal attack. The fainted Zubat is replaced by Glameow. Pachirisu then finishes the other Zubat with Quick Attack while Staravia again almost scores an OHKO, this time with Pluck. Stunky comes out. The next turn Pachirisu is swapped out for Monferno while Staravia Quick Attacks Glameow down. Over the last two turns Monferno KOs with Stunky with Leer and Flame Wheel for a clean finish to the fight.

With the rest of the trainers at my team's number, none of them are too troublesome. Pachirisu gets to Level 21 while I'm here and gets another attacking move worth something in Swift. I replace Charm, since even if that might have some use versus tougher Pokemon I really need as much attacking PP as I can get right now.

Jupiter

This is a similar fight to Mars, but a bit trickier since her Skuntank is far less willing to run face-first into Bide. Like Gardenia, I enter this fight slightly weakened on purpose, in this case with Monferno missing 8 HP. Zubat is simple enough to KO with Leer and Flame Wheel, though this one is pretty dangerous to Monferno and does half of its health with Wing Attack. But as you can probably tell by me entering this fight weakened, this is beneficial anyways. While Skuntank has all sorts of time-wasting moves, it seems to ignore them in favor of Night Slash on Monferno, likely because it's weakened. So Monferno is able to Taunt Skuntank, then faint the next turn. It can survive Wing Attack+2 Night Slashes sometimes, so that's why it enters weakened. Unfortunately I don't have any fancy Taunt set-up this time to ensure Bide is 100% successful, so I just need to hope it lasts 4 or more turns. It goes for 3-5 turns and seems to be evenly distributed, giving me 2/3 odds. At the time, I thought it was hard to beat that when I've got a slower Taunt, but I realized later there was a better way...you'll see it later this update! Anyways, once Monferno goes down, Pachirisu takes 2 Night Slashes and destroys Skuntank with Bide.

To Hearthome City

At the start of the long journey to Hearthome lies Cycling Road. Most of the trainers here use unevolved Pokemon and aren't that bad, but one has a Staravia. Intimidate is awful for 1v1 scenarios, so I lead with Pachirisu for type advantage. I use Spark...then Swift...then Quick Attack...and god, this bird is still alive. A show of Staravia's bulk, Pachirisu's offensive inepitude, or a little bit of both? I'll go with the last option. Thankfully, I still have Bide which picks up 1 Quick Attack to get rid of the last sliver of health.

Once I leave Cycling Road, I go underneath it to make my way to Wayward Cave. I see Hiker down there, and like last time I skip them. The cave itself is trivial because of Mira. Unlike Cheryl whose Chansey is helpful overall but fairly weak, Mira's Kadabra absolutely cleans house. Mira could probably 1v2 this whole dungeon if she wanted to. I'll take the breather, though. There's also the hidden part of the cave that houses the bizarrely early Earthquake TM, previously gated by Strength in DP. Nothing on my team can learn it right now though. It seemed like a waste to not plan my team so that I could take advantage of this move for the early game, but ultimately it just didn't seem worth it, especially with Fantina's entire team being immune to it. Gliscor was the closest option, but I determined there were better options.

After I leave the cave I take the shortcut back to Oreburgh City, and use the Bike to get the Brick Break TM in the Oreburgh Gate. A solid upgrade to Monferno's power, another STAB, and one that destroys those pesky Rocks – what's not to love? Well, there's one huge issue with learning Brick Break looming over the Horizon: Fantina. Brick Break is completely worthless versus her and her gym, and I really don't want to risk a dead moveslot with 1PP, especially since I can't reteach Brick Break if I need to forget it for her. So this seemingly heavensent gift will have to wait.

As I return on my route to Hearthome, there's several Hikers that I again have to skip, making the loss of Brick Break hit even harder. Soon... The other trainers are fightable, though. One gets off to a deceptively easy start with a Buizel that is OHKOd by Pachirisu's Spark. Next is Luxio, and I weaken it with Swift, then Bide next turn on Leer and Bite to almost KO. Quick Attack picks up the KO. The final Pokemon is Gligar, though, and its huge 105 base defense is a problem. I go to Monferno and use Leer, but it gets negated by Harden. I honestly didn't even know Gligar learned this, so I definitely should've Taunted in retrospect. I rectify this mistake the next turn, then switch to Staravia. I Wing Attack the first turn, then the next turn the Taunt wears off and Gligar Hardens before I Pluck. Quick Attack finishes it off after that, though.

There's also a somewhat confusing double battle versus a Pachirisu and Chimchar. Hmm, seems familiar... As tempting as it is to use Pachirisu versus this doppelganger, I instead opt for Monferno and Staravia. Staravia Wing Attacks Chimchar for most of its health, then Monferno uses Leer, sadly slower than Staravia. Their Pachirisu uses Spark and paralyzes Monferno. The next turn I focus on Pachirisu with Quick Attack and Flame Wheel. As Pachirisu uses Charm, I realize it could have been troublesome if it used earlier so I should've Taunted. Thankfully, it targets Staravia who already attacked this turn, so Pachirisu goes down. Staravia finishes off Chimchar next turn with Pluck. My Pachirisu had the Exp Share and gets to Level 25 and learns Sweet Kiss over Quick Attack. Unreliable, but almost certainly useful for more damage than Quick Attack.

As I cross Mt. Coronet, I see another Hiker to skip, and then another one. I wait for him to turn around, and wait, and wait, and wait...oh no. Well, let's see what I'm in for. One Nosepass. I try a couple of times, but Nosepass simply cannot be bested with one Pokemon right now. Its terrible offense makes it very difficult to Bide, and the Rock type and its defenses are an obvious issue. I tried to weaken Staravia in Mt. Coronet to utilize Endeavor, but honestly it's actually really hard to get it weakened due to Intimidate, and Geodudes can erase any progress with Self-Destruct. Instead, I turn my eyes to the Grass Knot TM. I wanted to save this for later (mainly for Wake and Bertha), but later on I'll have more options, and goddamn it I am not getting stonewalled by a Nosepass. Both Monferno and Pachirisu can learn it, and I decide on Pachirisu since it has less useful moveslots right now. So Sweet Kiss ends its very brief tenure for Grass Knot.

Before dealing with the mandatory Nosepass, I go back and fight some Hikers since I want all the exp I can get for Fantina. While one has 4 Pokemon and still can't be dealt with, the rest have 1 or 2 and all have the same basic strategy. With just 1 Pokemon, a Grass Knot and the battle is over. With 2, Monferno Flame Wheels then Taunts, and then I go to Pachirisu and KO with Bide. The other Pokemon is OHKOd by Grass Knot. I return to the single Nosepass trainer with Grass Knot in tow. Spark, Grass Knot, and Swift are not quite enough to KO Nosepass, but Bide picks up the slack by reflecting a Tackle.

Almost to Hearthome, I run into an Artist with Mime Jr, which is easily OHKOd by Flame Wheel, and then he sends out Bonsly for one final rock for the road. I Taunt it, but instantly forget my usual Bide plan and use Leer instead, but when I go to Pachirisu I'm able to salvage things by KOing it with Spark and Grass Knot. Before I enter Hearthome, I stop by the Berry Master and reset for a Persim Berry for the gym. Surprisingly, this is the only way to get one before then.

Finally in Hearthome, I visit the park and get the Secret Power TM. Like Brick Break, this is a nice boost for Staravia, but even moreso than Brick Break it is exceptionally poorly-timed and will have to wait until after Fantina.

Hearthome Gym

I teach Staravia Thief over Quick Attack. With Dread Plate, it's basically the same as Flying STAB versus Ghosts, but extra attacking PP is always good. Staravia shows off its large attacking repertoire versus the first trainer by Thiefing their Gastly and using its 2 Flying STABs for the Drifloon. The next trainer just has a Misdreavus that I use Monferno for. I start with Taunt to avoid Confuse Ray and Pain Split but end up taking Psybeam anyways. I use Leer the next turn and am Psybeamed down to 3 HP. Blaze Flame Wheel OHKOs the -1 defense Misdreavus. After the fight, I use a Potion on Monferno to heal it as much as I can without removing Blaze. Its power lets it OHKO a Gastly on the next trainer even through an X Defend!

The next trainer has two Drifloons and a Super Potion, which as I found out on failed attempts is awful with Minimize and Stockpile. To succeed, I sadly heal Monferno out of Blaze and remove Staravia's Dread Plate. Without this boost, Thief does a lot of damage, but not enough to prompt a Super Potion. Now even if it Stockpiles a Flying move will KO. It uses Minimize instead causing Wing Attack to miss, but Pluck KOs it after that. For the next Drifloon, I swap to Monferno as it uses Stockpile. I Taunt it, and it negates its Stockpile with Spit Up, though this would be inevitable since that's its only damaging move. Leer+Flame Wheel KOs it after that.

Then there's an Ace Trainer with Haunter and Misdreavus. I keep Monferno at half health from the previous fight to assist in activating Blaze. Monferno Embers the Haunter, and takes Night Shade to activate Blaze. Since Ace Trainers have smart AI and Monferno was at lower health, they're quite likely to attack instead of using obnoxious statuses. After that I get a free switch-in to Staravia on another Night Shade, then finish Haunter with Wing Attack. I use Pluck and Thief on Misdreavus, but it's not enough. I can't afford to switch back to Monferno though, so I use Endeavor and use 2 struggle balls before fainting. Monferno finishes the fight with a Flame Wheel.

The last trainer has 2 Gastlies that go down to Blaze Flame Wheel and Ember, and a Haunter that Staravia 2HKOs.

Fantina

Fantina is usually pretty tough since Ghosts are tricky to deal with at this point, and this run is no exception. If you've been thinking that Pachirisu sat out the gym trainers because Bide doesn't work on Ghosts, you'd be incorrect! This is actually one of the most weirdly inconsistent mechanics in Pokemon. Bide affects Ghosts in Gen 1, then doesn't in 2/3, does again in 4, and stops doing so after that. No, Pachirisu sat out the trainers because they have a lot of statuses to deal with and Monferno and Staravia's raw power is sufficient. Fantina herself is honestly no exception either, but you can guess how I'll deal with that.

She leads with Duskull, and I have Staravia do half its health with Pluck, and absorb Will-o-wisp with a Rawst Berry. Thankfully Duskull is Mild so I can 2HKO it. I then swap to Monferno without fear of burn and KO with Flame Wheel. Haunter comes out, and I swap to Staravia to deal with it. I need Taunt for later, so Staravia has to brave Haunter's Hypnosis/Confuse Ray status minefield with its item already used for Duskull's burn. Thankfully, Haunter can only hurt Staravia with Sucker Punch, but Hypnosis into waking up with Confuse Ray can quickly turn fatal if I haven't even starting attacking. To counteract this, I taught Staravia Sleep Talk over Endeavor. Since all 3 options are virtually the same (Wing Attack, Pluck, Thief) there's not any randomness in using this. Since Haunter prioritizes Hypnosis before Confuse Ray, this lets Staravia get off at least one attack without issue. I take said Hypnosis on the switch in, and then Sleep Talk Wing Attack for half of Haunter's health. As I sleep, I take some Sucker Punches and Confuse Ray, then hit myself once as I wake up, then finish Haunter next turn with Pluck.

Mismagius finishes off Staravia swiftly. Now I go back to Monferno for the usual Taunt-Bide shenanigans. While it's possible to hope for a 4+-turn Taunt like before with Jupiter's Skuntank, I found a better way. I teach Rock Tomb over Ember, and by using this I can outspeed Mismagius the next turn. Since it used Psybeam, I just Taunt and faint, ensuring Pachirisu can use Bide. I also had a Persim Berry to stop Confuse Ray, though if I saw this I would have to waste a turn with Leer so I could Taunt on the turn I actually faint. Anyways, with Taunt applied, Pachirisu comes in and gets off yet another Bide to demolish Fantina's ace.

And that's Fantina down! This was definitely the fight I was most worried about in routing due to the lack of super-effective moves, so it was a huge sigh of relief to get past it without grinding or having to change up my team.

Coming up: ascendance.

Team Status:

Monferno
Level 27
Flame Wheel/Leer/Rock Tomb/Taunt

Staravia Level 26
Wing Attack/Pluck/Thief/Sleep Talk

Pachirisu Level 26
Bide/Spark/Swift/Grass Knot
 
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Have you ever considered using a self-destruct Geodude or bide Medicham? They can deal a lot of damage in one PP, so why aren't you using them?
 
Have you ever considered using a self-destruct Geodude or bide Medicham? They can deal a lot of damage in one PP, so why aren't you using them?
Well, don't get the wrong idea from these first few updates - as my (conventional) move options get stronger, there's less need for these kind of super strong but situational moves. So their use, while still periodically important later on, is very concentrated to the early game. To that end, Geodude fails pretty hard - it's solid versus the Galactic Admins, but near worthless versus Gardenia and Fantina. Honestly its type match-ups are pretty bad in general in this game, and as alluded to above Explosion isn't that important later on. For Meditite, since Bide's use is so localized to nuking earlygame ace mons, those are the match-ups most important to consider. So to start Meditite isn't even around for Mars's Purugly, and while it should be about the same as Pachirisu for Gardenia and Jupiter, it can't Bide Fantina's Mismagius so it fails against what is straight-up the most dangerous early game Pokemon. And while its raw offense obviously far outstrips Pachirisu's later on, a second Fighting-type is mostly redundant while Pachirisu still has its odd niches every now and then.
 
Now that I'm past Fantina, Monferno and Staravia can get their much-anticipated upgrades of Brick Break and Secret Power, forgetting Ember and Sleep Talk, respectively. And it's almost no time at all before they get a chance to use them...

Barry (Hearthome City)

This fight was a little worrying, since he has 4 Pokemon and I still only have 3. I considered using the Eevee in Hearthome or some Pokemon from the route before to assist, but it proved to be unnecessary with my shiny new toys. Monferno leads to absorb Barry's Staravia's Intimidate and Taunt it to prevent Double Team, and then I switch to my own Staravia. Secret Power and Pluck is enough to KO his. Then he sends in Prinplup and I go to Pachirisu, who can take 3 Bubble Beams, so it safely uses Bide to OHKO it.

Roselia is next, but this is an easy KO for Monferno with Flame Wheel, who has a Cheri Berry to nullify the Stun Spore it uses on the switch in. His final Pokemon is Ponyta, and Monferno puts Brick Break to great use to OHKO it bolstered with Leer. It can use Growl, but if this happens Staravia can finish it off with Thief instead.

To Veilstone City

Most of the trainers on the way to Solaceon Town are pretty easy. They usually use unevolved Pokemon, and even the evolved Pokemon are either frail or weak to my STABs (or both!). Even a Hiker in the ruins who has a pair of Geodude that would previously take some difficulty to defeat is no match for Brick Break. One Geodude goes down to it, and the other to Pachirisu's Grass Knot. The remaining Bronzor is almost OHKOd by Flame Wheel, though since that was my last attacking move Pachirisu has to finish it off.

In the Lost Tower, Staravia learns yet another STAB move at Level 28, Aerial Ace. I forget Thief, and Staravia now has an entire moveset of 60+ BP STAB moves. And an even bigger upgrade happens soon after, when Pachirisu learns Discharge at Level 29 over Swift. It actually has the strongest move on my team right now, though it is, of course, still a Pachirisu. Nevertheless, a much-appreciated upgrade.

On Route 210 and 215, I skip most of the trainers to leave some exp for my next Pokemon. The mandatory ones end up being the toughest anyways, though. The permanent rain on Route 215 is very troubling for Monferno. A Ruin Maniac I have to fight exposes this with his Bronzor. I don't even 2HKO with Flame Wheel, and I absolutely need to save Brick Break for his Shieldon, so Pachirisu helps out. Spark and Discharge are sadly not enough to KO Bronzor, but they're still enough for Monferno to finish with Flame Wheel and then OHKO Shieldon with Brick Break.

The last trainers I need to fight are a pair of Ace Trainers meant to be fought as a Multi Battle with 6 Pokemon. Doing this with a team of 3 is an easy ticket to defeat, though. Thankfully I can fight each individually instead. The first one leads with Roselia who is easily KOd by Pluck, but then has Lickitung, who is just an absolute unit. It uses Defense Curl as I go to Monferno, and I need to unload my entire arsenal of Taunt, Leer, Brick Break, and Flame Wheel to defeat it. The final Ralts is no issue, though – one Secret Power and it's done. The other trainer leads with Gligar, though thankfully it doesn't know Harden this time. Staravia is barely able to 3HKO it with Secret Power, Pluck, and Wing Attack. Staravia uses its last move, Aerial Ace, on the Buizel that comes out, but it fails to KO so Pachirisu has to use Grass Knot to finish it. The last Pokemon is Drifblim, which Pachirisu is able to 2HKO with Spark and Discharge.

Veilstone City

I mentioned ascendance at the end of the last update, and while all the new moves I've gotten so far in this update have been really nice, this is where we truly ascend. The Department Store has a number of curiously high-powered moves to buy like Fire Blast, Thunder, and Hyper Beam. Fire Blast is an enormous power upgrade for Monferno, and its accuracy is usable and can be further patched up with a Wide Lens. Thunder could potentially be an option for Pachirisu, but its terrible accuracy makes me avoid it unless absolutely necessary. But it's still a nice option to have around.

But what about Hyper Beam? Nothing on my team actually learns it. Well, that's where the other ludicrous boon from Veilstone City comes in – Porygon! I reset for Download, which often gives it a free Special Attack boost, on top of its respectable 85 base. And since it was a fully-evolved Pokemon at one point in time, it's capable of learning Hyper Beam and all its incredible 150 BP STAB goodness. But why stop there? The Up-Grade was laying around Jupiter, so Porygon can immediately be evolved into Porygon2! Now with 105 base Special Attack, Porygon2 is absurd for this point in the game. While Hyper Beam is its only STAB, it OHKOs virtually anything, and it learns a decent smattering of moves even now to give it extra attacking PP and coverage. It comes with Psybeam, and I teach it Shock Wave. It could learn Blizzard and Thunder too, but these are inaccurate so I'll avoid them.

I also pick up some goodies at the Game Corner. While the good TMs cost way too many coins to afford, I can pick up a Silk Scarf and a Wide Lens for relatively cheap, “only” 40k money. All this shopping actually leaves me near broke, but I've got what I need so I'm fine. I give the Exp Share to Porygon2, and go back to the previous route to have it pick up some exp.

Routes 215 & 210 revisited

The first Pokemon Porygon2 fights is Croagunk which gets OHKOd by Psybeam. A Machop then comes, and Porygon2 opens the heavens, deigning to show it the godly power of Hyper Beam. Machop rests its eyes, making peace with knowing what's to come. Porygon2 unleashes its unfathomable power, and...misses. Well, you tried. With only Shock Wave remaining, Porygon2 has to switch out and let a lowly bird finish its work. Both Machop and the succeeding Meditite go down to Aerial Ace and Pluck.

Porygon2 gets off to a better footing on the next fight, where it Psybeams a Machop and successfully Hyper Beams the next one, which faints and then some as you would expect. Monferno KOs the last one with Leer and Brick Break. There's another trainer with just a Croagunk, and while Psybeam is plenty for it Hyper Beam makes me feel strong so I use it instead, and miss again! While missing 2/3 times is obviously just bad luck, I decide I'm tired of it and give the Wide Lens to Porygon2. It really doesn't need the Exp Share to catch up.

Porygon2 doesn't really have any trouble on this route, even OHKOing the weird underleveled Rapidash with Hyper Beam. It catches up in time for the gym, and learns Signal Beam over Agility. Useless for this gym, but pretty helpful after that. I also give Monferno the Fire Blast TM now that I'm out of the rain, finally replacing Leer. The gym trainers are pretty simple with Porygon2 and Staravia, so let's get on to Maylene.

Maylene

Just because the gym trainers are simple doesn't mean the leader will be though, as Gardenia proved. Just kidding! Maylene is the easiest boss fight in this entire run. Staravia OHKOs her Meditite with Aerial Ace, Porygon2 OHKOs her Machoke with Psybeam and a Download boost, and Monferno OHKOs her Lucario with Fire Blast (with Wide Lens for some consistency). I thought the last one was a guaranteed OHKO due to a mistaken calculation indicating it has a Lax nature (it's Hasty), but it's actually a damage range. No matter, though – Pachirisu actually could have dealt with Lucario too. It mistakenly thinks Drain Punch is the best option over Bone Rush (which is only “25” BP), so Pachirisu could take two with a berry.

With Maylene defeated, I get the Drain Punch TM which, while not too strong, can have a useful health drain for Monferno and provide ext-



God I hate Drain Punch

To Pastoria City

Today we'll tackle two gyms since Maylene was really easy. There's a brief aside with a pair of Galactic Grunts, which is only notable because Pachirisu manages to OHKO 2 Pokemon at once with Discharge. Zubats, but still, out of this world for Pachirisu's offenses! I get the Fly HM for doing this, which provides Staravia with an excellent power boost. I get rid of Wing Attack for it (it says a lot about how many attacking moves Staravia gets that I forget a 60 BP STAB). The route to Pastoria proper isn't too bad. I get a brief scare as I run into a Collector with 6 Pokemon, but Staravia and Porygon2 alone are able to beat him. There's also a Beauty with the Wormadam trio, which is worrying since they have Protect. But between some good luck and Taunt, I see none so Monferno and Staravia are able to overcome her.

For the double battle cafe, Pachirisu and Porygon2 team up. The first fight has a Cleffa and a Lickitung. Pachirisu weakens Cleffa with Grass Knot, then Porygon2 OHKOs Lickitung with Hyper Beam (remember how much it took last time?). Cleffa uses Copycat on Porygon2's Hyper Beam, which elicits a moment of panic, only to be quickly overriden with laughter as it does 20%. Spark puts the poor thing out of its misery next turn as Porygon2 weakens Clefairy with Signal Beam. Discharge ends the fight.

The next battle is against Chatot and Purugly. Pachirisu Discharges, almost OHKOing Chatot and weakening Purugly. It also paralyzes and causes Porygon2 to be immobile... Next turn, the Gentleman undoes my progress on Chatot with a Full Restore, though I OHKO it with Spark so I should've just done that in the first place! Porygon2 is immobilized yet again, and I start to really regret that Discharge. It finally moves the next turn though, and OHKOs Purugly with Hyper Beam. The other two pairs are unnotable, but Pachirisu gets to Level 33 and learns Super Fang over Grass Knot. This gives Pachirisu another way to deal good damage indepedently of its attacking stats, so that's great. After a few more trainers, I arrive at Pastoria.

Barry (Pastoria City)

Barry is back with a near-identical team, but me, on the other hand...well, this won't be hard. Pachirisu nearly OHKOs Staravia with Discharge, then finishes with Spark. Ponyta comes out and Pachirisu weakens it with Super Fang before I go to Monferno who finishes it off with Brick Break. He then sends in Prinplup, which is OHKOd by Porygon2's Hyper Beam, with a bit of assistance from Silk Scarf. Last is Roselia, which meets the same Flame Wheeled end they all do.

Pastoria Gym

Most of this gym is pretty simple with Porygon2 and Pachirisu, though I need to train Staravia so it evolves. Before that happens, I run into a Whiscash it actually can't defeat because its special defense is so awful (minus nature and very low IV). It 3HKOs while taking nearly 70% from Water Pulse. I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. Maybe going with that Starly was a bit of a rash decision... I reset and let Porygon2 Hyper Beam it instead.

Staravia soon gets its desired evolution into the mighty Staraptor. With a massive attack boost and Close Combat (taught over Aerial Ace), Staraptor is an amazing upgrade. And while not exclusive to it, I realize it should be at or near max happiness, so I teach it Return over Secret Power.

Crasher Wake!

It's Crash! Crash! Crasher Wake! His Gyarados is actually really scary. See, when I was initially planning, I was going to ditch Pachirisu after Fantina (if you've noticed a significant decrease in Bide this update, that's not uncharacteristic going forward). But Monferno is trash versus it, Staraptor doesn't do great with Intimidate inflicted on it, and Porygon2 is slower (flinch risk) and 3HKOd by Waterfall while needing Thunder to OHKO, plus I wanted it healthier for other Pokemon. But then I thought, well, what if I still had Pachirisu? And honestly, that's kind of the story of Pachirisu's life from here on out. An incredible start to get its momentum (read: exp) going, then periods of mediocrity punctuated with moments of helpfulness. Well, some very helpful moments later on, to be fair...

Anyways, with a Pachirisu, Gyarados is simple enough. I can't OHKO without Thunder, but that's fine – Spark and Discharge do the trick. Next is Quagsire, and Super Fang gets rid of half before Pachirisu faints. This Quagsire is actually quite bulky, and what prompted me to teach Return. None of Staraptor's other moves actually KO it from half, prompting a heal and things just getting messy. But Return is strong enough to get the KO, so there we go. His last is Floatzel, so I go to Porygon2 and unleash the awesome power of a Downloaded Hyper Beam on it.

And thats's another two badges down! My team has gotten an incredible boost this update, and naturally things have gotten a bit easier as a result. Honestly, I considered restricting the use of Veilstone Department Store TMs for a while to counteract this, but even without them, Porygon2 is still pretty good and Staraptor is the same, i.e. incredible. A lot of it is just that Platinum's midgame isn't that difficult, too. Well, we'll see how that continues to unfold next time, with maybe a bit of a special surprise...?

Team Status:

Monferno
Level 33
Brick Break/Flame Wheel/Taunt/Fire Blast

Staraptor Level 34
Fly/Pluck/Return/Close Combat

Pachirisu Level 35
Bide/Spark/Discharge/Super Fang

Porygon2 Level 34
Hyper Beam/Psybeam/Shock Wave/Signal Beam
 
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Leaving Pastoria

Defeating Wake triggers a small event with an eventual battle against a Grunt's Croagunk. Eager to catch up on lost exp from the gym and evolve into Infernape, Monferno leads and defeats it with Fire Blast. Celestic Town is the next destination, but I can also go through the alternative route to Pastoria, 212. It's a pretty uneventful trip, though. I find fighting all the optional trainers at this point of the game leaves you really overleveled, so I avoid basically every trainer and just loot items. But there's not really anything of note, and even the oft-desired tutors aren't particularly notable, at least not to the extent I'd grind shards for them. Onwards to Celestic, then!

Route 210 North

Monferno is able to deal with the Ninja Boys at the start of the route relatively well with Flame Wheel and Fire Blast, though Fire Blast's accuracy is always a bit unnerving. One battle gets a little worrying as a result; after Flame Wheeling the Zubat I miss Fire Blast on the succeeding Golbat. Since Monferno has nothing else to hit it with, I have to switch out to Pachirisu. I use Spark and Discharge to KO it, then Super Fang Stunky before switching out into Porygon2. I get a Smokescreen on the switch though, which makes things a little bit scary since I've used a lot of PP. Thankfully, Porygon2 is able to hit both a Signal Beam and a Psybeam on the Skorupi that is sent out after.

On to the foggy part, where several Ace Trainers lay in wait. The first leads with an Aipom that Monferno easily dispatches with Brick Break, but the Girafarig that comes after is a little trickier. I first Taunt to negate Light Screen, then do a bit of damage with Flame Wheel before nearly getting OHKOd by Psybeam. This does trigger Blaze, though, so Fire Blast roasts Girafarig. It leaves Monferno with no PP for the final Grotle, though, so Porygon2 has to finish with a Download Signal Beam. Next is a double battle against Gyarados and Raichu, and Pachirisu teams up with Porygon2 again to deal with them. Pachirisu starts with a Spark against Gyarados, and then Porygon2 takes heavy damage from Thunderbolt and Aqua Tail. It fires off a Hyper Beam on Raichu, but since it got no Download boost Raichu survives. No matter, though – Pachirisu finishes off both foes next turn with Discharge.

Monferno starts the next battle in Blaze range from the previous Ace Trainer. Scyther's Quick Attack leaves it at 1 HP as Flame Wheel OHKOs. Probopass then goes down to a Brick Break, and Luxio to Fire Blast. For such a picturesque battle, Monferno is rewarded by getting to Level 36, learning Close Combat over Taunt, and evolving into the amazing Infernape. Now that there's no more Ace Trainers, the rest of my team has no trouble dealing with the rest of the route to catch up to Infernape.

Cyrus (Celestic Town)

Infernape makes its inaugural battle one befitting its newly-evolved status: explosive and decisive. Brick Break OHKOs Sneasel, Flame Wheel+Fire Blast KOs Golbat, and Close Combat OHKOs Murkrow. Golbat can potentially be problematic with Supersonic and Fire Blast missing (though I'm using Wide Lens), but Staraptor can clean up easily even if Infernape gets unlucky.

Murky Waters Ahead

Now that I have Surf, several places open up. The most notable was going to be the Fuego Ironworks, where I could find Magnemite who could quickly become Magnezone. It's super strong, tanky, and learns Mirror Coat for some shenanigans. It seemed like a no-brainer pick, but the more I thought about it the less I liked it. First, a very minor spoiler on my final Pokemon: it doesn't learn Surf, which means using Magnezone would leave me without a Surfer. This is often annoying, and particularly for Victory Road means I wouldn't be able to enter with my full team. Not really the end of the world, but something I wanted to avoid. And more importantly, Magnezone, while fantastic in a vacuum, wouldn't really help with the match-ups I was concerned about. Volkner, Bertha, and Flint were all fights that my team wasn't great versus, and Magnezone didn't help much at all with them. Given all these issues, getting a Water-type instead seemed like a perfectly logical choice. Even for Volkner, a Water-type could probably get more damage done in a 1PP run than Magnezone's resisted moves.

I considered a number of options. I think the best candidate would be Milotic, who gets an early Hydro Pump as a second, good, Water move to attack with in addition to great stats, but obtaining and evolving Feebas is simply horrible, so forget that. Gyarados was also a strong contender. It too had amazing stats and Dragon Dance for later. However, while this was moreso an issue of poor planning, Magikarp would be underleveled at this point while also being in the Slow exp group, which, while not necessarily a dealbreaker, was very undesirable. So in the end, my favorite option was Gastrodon of all things. While its raw offensive stats are unimpressive, they're usable, and the extra Ground STAB gives it more strong PP to attack with, namely Earthquake. This is particularly helpful versus Volkner, and it's great for Flint as well since it's an attacking option not mired by sun.

Anyways, I can catch Gastrodon on the route to Canalave at Level 30, so it's somewhat behind but still perfectly usable backed by the amazing Surf and Earthquake. Water Pulse and Rain Dance round out its set for some extra damaging options. Now to go and explore with Surf...

Surfing Around The World

Like before with Route 212, I find fighting all these trainers in the Surf areas leaves you really overleveled so I'll be avoiding who I can. I go to the Fuego Ironworks for real, where Gastrodon is able to deal with the trainers easily, and get the Flamethrower TM at the end. I teach it to Infernape over Fire Blast. While Fire Blast is way stronger than the Flame Wheel I'm keeping, subpar accuracy is a big issue in this type of run for obvious reasons. Before Fire Blast was such an incredible power boost that it was worth the risk, but with Flamethrower and Close Combat I don't think it's needed anymore. It's buyable for relatively cheap, anyways.

The next most important place to Surf is the Valley Windworks, where I can find the Thunderbolt TM. Both Pachirisu and Porygon2 would like this, but I decide on Porygon2 because it's a more offensive Pokemon, forgetting Shock Wave. Sorry, Pachirisu. I also find a Sea Incense, the first Water-boosting item which Gastrodon happily equips. You actually find Mystic Water and Wave Incense while doing Surf looting too, lol.

Most of the other rewards are unremarkable, though I do try out a little ZapChomp action (how much does this date my competitive doubles knowledge?) with Pachirisu and Gastrodon. The first pair I try them against leads with Finneon and Golduck. I use my discount Discharge/Earthquake combo, which KOs Finneon and almost Golduck. Pelipper replaces Finneon. Pachirisu uses Spark on Pelipper, and Gastrodon finishes Golduck with Water Pulse. In retrospect I should've Surfed to finish both Pokemon, but oh well. Golduck is replaced with...another Golduck. I swap out Gastrodon for Porygon2, and Pachirisu tries to Super Fang the second Golduck but misses, while Pelipper Roosts. Incredibly unproductive turn! Pachirisu is then swapped out for Staraptor as Porygon2 finishes Pelipper with Thunderbolt. To end the fight, Staraptor and Porygon2 double team the Golduck with Return and Signal Beam. The next double I try this strategy on works a bit smoother – versus Floatzel and Tentacruel, Discharge and Earthquake KO both of them. And uh, Pachirisu too (it got hit by the opposing Pokemon as well this time). At least Gastrodon gets more exp!

While there were some fights I didn't mention, Gastrodon still gained 5 levels from an extremely truncated trainer route through the Surf areas, so I think I made the right decision to skip most of them. Now that I'm done exploring, I progress the main story.

Barry (Canalave City)

He's improved his team a lot since last time, but he's still not too hard. I wanted Pachirisu to be able to OHKO Staraptor with a Choice Specs Discharge, but sadly this was too big an ask for the meek Pachirisu. So instead it uses Wide Lens and 2HKOs with Super Fang and Discharge, needing to hit through Double Team on the second hit, though I had Spark as well. From here, I mostly have simple counters to his Pokemon. Gastrodon easily switches in on Rapidash and OHKOs with Earthquake, and Staraptor easily switches in on Roserade and OHKOs with Pluck. Empoleon is a little more dangerous, but Infernape can still barely survive a switch in on Bubble Beam and OHKO it with Close Combat. And since Blaze is now triggered, Infernape is also able to OHKO Heracross with Flamethrower.

Byron

The Canalave gym is simple with Infernape and Gastrodon, so let's skip to the leader. What can I say about Byron? He sucks. Just, absolute dog shit. If I wanted to, Infernape could again solo this fight by using Flame Wheel and Brick Break on Magneton, Flamethrower on Steelix, and Close Combat on Bastiodon. But let's make things more interesting. Forget Infernape, forget Gastrodon – let's do this with the worst Pokemon I have for the job!

I have Porygon2 enter this fight with 19 HP missing. Pachirisu leads and uses Super Fang and Spark on Magneton while taking 2 Tri Attacks for around 60%. I switch to Porygon2 on another Tri Attack, get a Download boost, and finish off Magneton with a Choice Specs Thunderbolt. He sends in Steelix, and I swap to Staraptor. It uses Sandstorm, and then Staraptor chips at it with Return before going back to Porygon2 on a Flash Cannon. It again gets a Download boost, and is able to finish off Steelix with a superpowered Hyper Beam, even resisted.

His ace is Bastiodon, and it can actually be quite troublesome because it likes to use Iron Defense, making it nearly impossible for this team to KO. This is why I entered with lowered health for Porygon2, though – with that damage, the Tri Attack, the sandstorm, and the Flash Cannon, it's in KO range for Bastiodon. So Bastiodon does just that. Conveniently, so is Pachirisu, so it chips at Bastiodon a bit with Discharge before being KOd. With that chip, Staraptor is able to KO Bastiodon with Close Combat and finish the fight.

Well, that was a fun little gimmick. Just a one-time thing since this stretch was otherwise a little uninteresting. Next time, I'll mostly resolve the plot and complete my team.

Team Status:

Infernape
Level 39
Brick Break/Flame Wheel/Close Combat/Flamethrower

Staraptor Level 37
Fly/Pluck/Return/Close Combat

Pachirisu Level 37
Bide/Spark/Discharge/Super Fang

Porygon2 Level 37
Hyper Beam/Psybeam/Thunderbolt/Signal Beam

Gastrodon Level 38
Earthquake/Surf/Water Pulse/Rain Dance
 
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Barry originally suggested going to Iron Island to train for Byron (lmao), but still, I'll need that exp eventually so let's go there.

Iron Island

Here I'm joined by another partner, Riley. His Lucario is pretty helpful, though not to the absurd extent Mira's Kadabra was. Still, he makes most of the fights here simple enough, except for the Ace Trainer duo at the end. I lead with Pachirisu against their Quagsire and Lopunny. Pachirisu Super Fangs Quagsire while Lucario almost OHKOs Lopunny with Force Palm. I switch to Infernape the next turn as Lucario finishes off Lopunny with Quick Attack, who is replaced by Kirlia. Infernape then KOs Quagsire with Close Combat as Lucario again fails to get an OHKO, this time with Metal Claw. Thankfully, Kirlia uses Calm Mind instead of taking advantage of Infernape's weakened defenses with Psychic. Hippopotas ends up replacing Quagsire. The next turn, Lucario gets another snipe with Quick Attack as Infernape OHKOs the little hippo with Flamethrower. They're replaced by the final pair, Staraptor and Medicham. Infernape's Brick Break does half to Staraptor, and Lucario's Metal Claw does the same to Medicham. But they mount a vicious counterattack; Staraptor's Aerial Ace almost OHKOs Infernape, and Medicham's High Jump Kick OHKOs Lucario. And Hippopotas gets the last laugh versus Infernape as its sandstorm finishes it off. But never fear, Pachirisu comes back out to finish off both with Discharge.

Once I'm done with Iron Island, I explore the world with my newfound Strength. Which...is nothing but underground the Oreburgh Gate. I thought there was bit more than that. Still, Gastrodon appreciates the Earth Plate I find there. Oh well, let's deal with Team Galatic.

Saturn

This is an easy fight. Pachirisu KOs his Golbat with Spark and Discharge, and I swap to Porygon2 when he sends out Toxicroak, getting a Download boost. I OHKO with Psybeam, then KO Bronzor with Thunderbolt and Hyper Beam.

As I head to the next lake, I realize Gastrodon and Staraptor make a good pair for the doubles there. Staraptor is not only immune to Earthquake, but can Fly over Surf. Granted, I don't realize the second fact in time as Gastrodon Surfs Staraptor when it comes down from Fly and OHKOs it. Ok, maybe that Rash nature is problematic...

Mars

Well, here's someone that's certainly not problematic. Pachirisu again 2HKOs Golbat with Spark and Discharge. Bronzor comes out second this time, and I go to Infernape and OHKO with Flamethrower. Infernape then also OHKOs Purugly with Close Combat. This was originally a speed tie which could be bad due to Hypnosis, but I used a Carbos to negate that.

I don't really know why they made the Commanders less differentiated in Platinum. At least Saturn had a Kadabra in DP.

Slugging Through The Snow

And now for the long trek to Snowpoint. It's filled with Ace Trainers and permanent hail, though the latter is helpful if anything. Gastrodon's type coverage makes a lot of the fights relatively simple though. One has a Rapidash that gets Earthquaked, and a Sudowoodo that gets Surfed (Pachirisu deals with the Golduck lead). And another has an Electabuzz and Magmar that also get dealth with by Earthquake and Surf. Some put up more of a fight, though. One leads with Mr. Mime, which is a problematic lead for Infernape. And it gets worse when I switch to Staraptor and it uses Reflect, which causes Return to not OHKO, so it sets up Light Screen too. Pluck finishes it, and Scyther is sent out. Fly is my strongest option here anyways, but this works out well since it stalls out screen turns too. Reflect isn't over when Staraptor comes down so Scyther survives, but with the hail's help Close Combat KOs it next turn. The last is Dusclops, and I have to go back to Infernape now. Hail actually helps out again here, as it lets Infernape 2HKO with Flame Wheel and Flamethrower – good thing, too, since it only had Fighting moves left!

Now for the deep snow. I actually like this part a lot; having it be such a slog makes it feel like you're truly fighting against the elements. But maybe I'm just a weirdo – I like XY's Route 13 too. Anyways, I actually do have to reset against a fight here, against a Skier with Piloswine and Glaceon. That's an awkward lead for the Pachirisu I have out, so I have to switch to Gastrodon. I OHKO with Surf, but between switching in, being slower, and hail it takes a lot of damage. Gastrodon gets to Level 41 here and learns Muddy Water over Water Pulse. But things go south versus Glaceon. I survive Icy Wind and try to Earthquake, but alas, Snow Cloak had other plans. Gastrodon faints and now I have to send out Pachirisu since it led. Bide doesn't miss which is great, so I go for that. I get hit by Bite and Icy Wind, which sadly makes Bide just short of a KO. Icy Wind is used again on the unleashing turn, and now Pachirisu is slower than Glaceon and almost fainted. But it goes for the Quick Attack finish, and misses the KO! Then I miss my Discharge anyways because of Snow Cloak...better luck next time! Well, it's more than luck – I lead Infernape instead, and Snow Cloak isn't stupid, so the fight is over with Flamethrower and Close Combat.

With that little glitch reset, the rest of the route to Snowpoint, as well as the gym trainers there, are fairly easy.

Candice

Candice attempts to use a hail team, but by leading Infernape she sends out her hail-setter, Abomasnow, last. This is great, since it means Froslass never gets to trigger Snow Cloak. The combination of Snow Cloak and Double Team is a nightmare for this run – if Infernape misses, nothing else can OHKO, and she just gets more and more Double Teams as I try to 2HKO, quickly burning through my limited PP. But even Double Team alone is an issue. I come prepared with a second move to OHKO Froslass in Fire Blast just in case, overwriting Flame Wheel.

Her first two Pokemon, Sneasel and Piloswine, are easy OHKOs with Brick Break and Close Combat, and then the dreaded Froslass comes out. Because of Close Combat's defense drop, it will OHKO me with Psychic, so I need to switch out, but also to something fragile so that it will just KO that instead of setting up Double Team. Staraptor is perfect for this, taking the Psychic before getting anihilated by Blizzard. Infernape is sent back in, and unfortunately, I need to use Wise Glasses instead of an accuracy-boosting item for Flamethrower to OHKO. But it uses Double Team and causes me to miss with Flamethrower anyways. My back-up of Fire Blast comes into play as it uses a second Double Team, and it thankfully hits before Froslass can spiral out of control. Overall the odds of one of these hitting is around 88%, so it works out pretty well. Her last is Abomasnow, finally setting up hail. Infernape has no PP left to attack with, so I switch to Pachirisu and Super Fang before fainting, then end the fight with Porygon2's Hyper Beam.

One funny and consistent strategy that was sadly just out of reach was Lock-On with Porygon2. This would completely ignore Froslass's evasion, so long as I could OHKO it. You might expect the move there would be a Download-boosted Shadow Ball, but Froslass is Lonely nature and thus boosts Porygon2's attack instead. But, Porygon2 can learn Iron Tail! So if Lock-On were learned at a reasonable level (why does anything need to learn this move by Level 45?), Porygon2 could consistently KO Froslass with that and Iron Tail.

Porygon Up-Grades

Defeating Candice lets me use Rock Climb, which lets me access some miscellaneous goods, most notably the Ice Beam and Psychic TMs. Porygon2 gets both of these, forgetting Signal Beam and Psybeam. But the fun doesn't end there! Inside the Veilstone Galactic Building (all the Grunts are trivial at this point, as they are Grunts – I even replaced Fire Blast on Infernape with Flame Wheel just because they're so weak), I can also pick up the Dubious Disc and evolve Porygon2 into Porygon-Z. Now armed with a 135 base special attack and a full set of 90+ BP coverage moves, it's monstrous again. It uses its newfound power to deal with most of Cyrus's team and all of Saturn's. These fights are pretty redundant anyways, so I'm not going to talk about them further.

Patching Up My Team

Now that I can access the peaks of Mt. Coronet, it's time to obtain my final team member, Absol. I was mostly satisfied with my team's future match-ups at this point, with one notable exception: Lucian. His Mr. Mime sets up screens, and while his team is fairly fragile his Alakazam and Espeon are incredibly difficult for my team to even touch in the first place. Thus, Absol. It's honestly not the greatest Pokemon (those defenses with that speed...), but it fits well enough on a 1PP run with its 130 base attack, and its STAB Sucker Punch is a very handy delete button for Lucian. So I'll run with it. As a 5% encounter with a 30 catch rate and hail ticking down its health, it would be pretty obnoxious to catch, but I have a Master Ball and hell, what else do I need it for? Once caught, I get rid of Double Team so I can get an extra STAB move in Payback to complement Bite. I also overwrite Slash with Strength for a slight power boost. With Swords Dance and three attacking moves, Absol is set.

The Grunts on the path up Mt. Coronet are simple, though Absol isn't as dominant as my team's heavy hitters versus them, mainly because of its poor bulk. Setting up Swords Dance lets it OHKO everything on their teams, though I have 2 annoying instances in which Murkrows Taunt that. Taunt from Murkrow happens a third time too, though then I was just attacking then anyways. Still, while I thought this was random chance it does seem to happen suspiciously often, but maybe it's just Absol inviting disaster. Regardless, by the end of Mt. Coronet, Absol is just about caught up to my team, though unfortunately for it I think it matches up pretty poorly for the boss fights here, so it won't actually be seen on video for a little while!

Mars and Jupiter Atop Spear Pillar

This is a fight infamous for taking a long time, so naturally I was very worried about it for this run. The two Bronzor leads set up screens, and since there's two only one could be prevented. And from there I'm basically playing 1v2, since out of all the cool, useful Pokemon Barry showcased in his last battle, he chooses to lead with his new, unevolved Munchlax that loves using Stockpile and Swallow to little effect but to prolong its own useless existence. And per my challenge rules, I can only use 3 of my own Pokemon to pick up the slack versus their 6 total. Let's see how this goes...

Like most Multi Battles, the optimal strategy is to focus on one of the opponents at a time. Mars is definitely the best candidate for two reasons. One, her Purugly is much easier to pick off than Jupiter's Skuntank. Two, Jupiter's Bronzor that will be left as I focus on Mars is easier to deal with than Mars'. Jupiter's only has attacking moves besides Reflect (which are almost negligible off of Bronzor's offenses), whereas Mars' will start using Confuse Ray after Light Screen. So to start this Bronzor-slaying, I bring in Infernape. Flamethrower OHKOs Mars' Bronzor as Jupiter's sets up Reflect. Munchlax spends its turn accomplishing nothing (I will skip this part for future turns). From here Mars can either send in Golbat or Purugly. Purugly is preferred, but Golbat is what happened when I recorded. With nothing good to hit it with, Infernape swaps out to Porygon-Z who sadly gets no Download boost, but at least it doesn't care about Reflect. It's able to OHKO both her Golbat with Ice Beam (requires NeverMeltIce) and her Purugly with Hyper Beam.

Mars is down, but at this point I've used most of my best PP. Rather than use all of it versus Jupiter, I swap to Infernape and Brick Break Barry's Munchlax to unlock his true potential by having him send out literally anything else, in this case Rapidash. My PP becomes far less limiting when I have a partner actually doing work! Reflect is also reset this turn, but it's just special moves for a while, thankfully. I switch to Gastrodon, and he misses Fire Blast (I did this fight a lot of times to get a good grip on how it worked, and I genuinely think Rapidash missed its first Fire Blast all 8 times). But it's okay, since Rapidash and Gastrodon work together to bring down Bronzor next turn with Fire Blast and Muddy Water. Now she sends in her Golbat, which annoyingly has Giga Drain for Gastrodon. Rapidash uses Will-O-Wisp on it, which is actually ideal since it will heal most of the Fire Blast damage with Giga Drain anyways. After Gastrodon is drained for around 40%, it deals a lot of damage to everyone with Surf, even KOing Barry's Rapidash, though it's replaced by the delightful Staraptor. Even though Gastrodon is out of moves to hit Golbat (just Earthquake/Rain Dance left), I leave it in expecting Staraptor to finish the job, which it does. This just leaves Skuntank. It's actually bulky enough to survive Staraptor's Take Down and Gastrodon's (split) Earthquake, leaving Gastrodon with no moves to use once again. I swap to Infernape just in case, but Barry's Staraptor is able to close the fight with Aerial Ace.

And...that's all for this update! Sorry, I know this seems like kind of a weird place to stop, but this update is already a solid length, and the double battle is honestly the most interesting part of the Galactic climax anyways. Next time I'll finish that up and go all the way past Victory Road.

Team Status:

Infernape
Level 44
Brick Break/Flame Wheel/Close Combat/Flamethrower

Staraptor Level 43
Fly/Pluck/Return/Close Combat

Pachirisu Level 43
Bide/Spark/Discharge/Super Fang

Porygon-Z Level 45
Hyper Beam/Psychic/Thunderbolt/Ice Beam

Gastrodon Level 43
Earthquake/Surf/Muddy Water/Rain Dance

Absol Level 42
Bite/Payback/Strength/Swords Dance
 
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The double admin battle is definitely your most impressive showing yet, well done.



It is so hilarious how literally every other pokemon is better than that damn Munchlax. Like rapidash comes out and wow! A really strong fire move! A really good support move! barold why
 
Final Cyrus Battle

For as dangerous as Cyrus's team is, it's not really that bulky, so this fight isn't as hard as you'd expect. I finally use the Stealth Rock TM from Roark on Infernape, replacing Flame Wheel. Cyrus's entire team is weak to it, though I really only need slight chip to get rid of some unfavorable damage rolls. Infernape sets it up on the first turn versus Houndoom, then uses Close Combat. Gyarados comes out, and I swap to Porygon-Z, taking a hefty hit from Waterfall. It proceeds to OHKO Gyarados with Thunderbolt and then Honchkrow with Ice Beam. Both of these are dicey damage ranges without Stealth Rock, so it lets this fight go very smoothly. After that Weavile comes in, so I go back to Infernape and Brick Break it. Crobat is the last and quite annoying, getting rid of Infernape immediately. Porygon-Z risks an Air Slash flinch, so I use Pachirisu with a Persim Berry instead. It's able to fairly consistently finish off Crobat with Super Fang and Discharge, with Porygon-Z's Psychic as a back-up if needed.

Giratina

Giratina's defenses are of course absurd, and when something's too bulky to deal with normally it all comes back to Pachirisu. Giratina's random AI is problematic, but as long as Pachirisu sees either turn 1 Shadow Force or Dragon Claw+Dragon Claw/Ominous Wind, Pachirisu will survive and deal enough damage to OHKO with Bide. Here, I get the turn 1 Shadow Force and show this beast the true boss of the Distortion World.

The path to Sunyshore City is fairly uneventful. While the Gyarados are somewhat scary since I'm trying to avoid using Porygon-Z for now to let my team catch up, I still have Pachirisu to help with those. The most notable event is that Absol gets to Level 44 after defeating a mighty Magikarp and learns Sucker Punch in the forgotten slot of Strength. The gym is pretty simple too with how fragile most Electrics are, especially with Gastrodon to assist.

Volkner

Gastrodon is obviously the star of the show here, though naturally its PP won't last that long. With Rain Dance, Muddy Water (accuracy boosted by Zoom Lens), and Surf, it KOs Jolteon while taking little damage from Iron Tail, then OHKOs Raichu with its final attack, Earthquake, after taking a light Focus Blast. Electivire is sent out, and I swap to Infernape on its Quick Attack. I did this fight several times to confirm that it never uses Giga Impact here. It likely has AI that discourages moves with side effects, and Quick Attack is the next bext option versus Gastrodon. Anyways, Infernape then uses Flamethrower which deals just under half, avoiding triggering Electivire's Sitrus Berry. It takes a hefty hit from Thunder Punch, but not enough to let it get sniped by Quick Attack, so it wins with Close Combat. This is actually only due to a bug in Platinum Volkner's trainer data; his Electivire has a difficulty rating of 2500 instead of 250, which is illegal and causes it to not so randomly get re-rolled into a poor IV spread of 4/3/29/18/15/19 – note the 3 attack IV (I document all this more a bit here). I'll take it. This leaves only Luxray, which Infernape weakens a bit with Brick Break (and uses Stealth Rock because Luxray uses Crunch instead of Thunder Fang, but that doesn't matter...) before going down. I send out Absol, who takes a massive hit from Rivalry-boosted Thunder Fang before using Swords Dance and destroying Luxray with Sucker Punch.

I Love HMs

With all 8 gym badges, I can get Waterfall from Jasmine and teach it to Gastrodon over Muddy Water. This is overall an upgrade, though whether it is or not is irrelevant since I need to have it anyways. The other HMs I'll need for Victory Road certainly aren't, though. I first replace Gastrodon's Rain Dance with Rock Smash, then Absol's Bite with Strength, and finally Infernape's Brick Break with Rock Climb. The last one stings; I can't actually relearn Brick Break. That being said, it's of little use versus the Elite Four anyways. Since the sea route after Sunyshore is uninteresting, let's skip to Victory Road.

Victory Road

Absol makes a strong showing versus the first trainer of Victory Road by OHKOing his Haunter with Payback, Gengar with Sucker Punch, and using Swords Dance and Strength to finish off Gardevoir. The next trainer is a Bird Keeper that leads with Noctowl, which Pachirisu uses Super Fang and Discharge to defeat, then attempts to Bide her Togetic in a true battle of titans. Sadly, Togetic wins with a critical Double-Edge and Staraptor has to clean up the mess with Return.

Now for the first of many Ace Trainers that Victory Road is famous for. She leads Blissey versus my Pachirisu, so I swap to Infernape as it uses Light Screen. I use Stealth Rock figuring it's harmless, but annoyingly it uses Sing. This ends up being beneficial though, as it does indeed prove to be harmless as Infernape blissfully snoozes away, stalling out Light Screen. I use Close Combat when I wake up, then KO Magnezone with Flamethrower, free of Light Screen. Her last is Glalie, and I let Infernape faint to it before sending in Staraptor to finish with Close Combat. The next trainer has a lead Mamoswine that easily gets OHKOd by Infernape's Flamethrower, then sends out Mothim (???), which I naturally have to meet with Pachirisu. I nearly OHKO it with Spark, then finish with Discharge. The last is Rampardos, and I go to Gastrodon and Earthquake it.

Porygon-Z leads for the next Ace Trainer, and I use Ice Beam to soften their Clefable up as it uses Reflect, then finish with Hyper Beam. Unfortunately I chose my weakening option poorly, since her other Pokemon was Torterra! After recharging, I switch to Staraptor and absent-mindedly Pluck, forgetting Reflect was up. I get Leech Seeded, and now that I'm forced to use the two-turn Fly Leech Seed heals almost all the damage Pluck did. Thankfully, the delayed aspect of Fly also stalls out the Reflect, so I KO Torterra when I dive down.

After this there's a somewhat precarious double battle against a Staraptor and an Ambipom where I use Porygon-Z and Gastrodon. Both Staraptor and Ambipom attack Gastrodon with Brave Bird and Aerial Ace, respectively, and almost KO it. Porygon-Z certainly wouldn't have lived that assault...It makes the best of its spared life and OHKOs Staraptor with Thunderbolt, and Gastrodon Surfs Ambipom and Porygon-Z for a good bit of damage. Next turn, Ambipom Aerial Aces Porygon-Z as it should have done in the first place, but it's too late as Porygon-Z now Hyper Beams it into nothingness.

As should be fairly clear with my numerous suboptimal leads for this part, not every fight is optimized and 1v1s can be especially scary if I have a bad lead, since I'm not allowed to use more Pokemon than they do. A Black Belt instilled this fear in me with Machamp versus my Gastrodon, which seemed like a poor match-up. But, it Scary Faces turn 1 instead of attacking, and Gastrodon Earthquaked for around half. But since I'm using the Earth Plate, I know my follow-up Water move won't KO. Yet, it uses Submission to inflict recoil upon itself, so Surf does KO. Whew! The next trainer is another Psychic that Absol prepares to go to town on, but it isn't quite as smooth. I set up Swords Dance on their Chimecho and OHKO with Payback, then OHKO their Absol with Strength. My Absol is primed for another sweep, but Sucker Punch fails on Dusknoir since it uses Will-O-Wisp. This is actually an incredibly awkward thing to switch in on since it nullifies a lot of my moves by being a Ghost, but I decide Porygon-Z is the best option since all 3 of its coverage moves can be used and it should get a Download boost, random-ish natures permitting. As I switch, it uses Mean Look, which I realize would have been really obnoxious versus Absol...Thankfully, with that tedious time-waster averted, Porygon-Z gets its desired Download boost, does 60% with Thunderbolt, and then Dusknoir throws in the towel with Curse.

Gastrodon effortlessly Surfs the following trainer's Rhydon before switching into Staraptor when Carnivine comes out. It uses Wring Out on the switch, dealing nearly 80% to Staraptor's trash special defense, and considering that Carnivine would destroy Gastrodon this fight ended up being weirdly close. But since Staraptor survived, it KOs Carnivine with Fly. There's another double battle after this, but it's a lot less dangerous since it has Rapidash and Lumineon instead of good Pokemon. Infernape is able to flat-out OHKO Rapidash with Close Combat, and Staraptor uses the Pluck intended to finish off Rapidash on Lumineon insteaad. Said fish fails to OHKO -1 Infernape with Water Pulse, and next turn Staraptor puts it out of its misery with Return.

Infernape ends up being walled for once in its life versus a Dragon Tamer's Altaria, so I go to Porygon-Z and Ice Beam it, then Hyper Beam Gabite. A Veteran near the end has his own Porygon-Z, but it gets no opportunity to do anything before Infernape Close Combats it. This leaves me with no move for the Empoleon after though, so I go to Gastrodon and thankfully OHKO with Earthquake – Brine would've finished me off otherwise. The last Pokemon is Tangrowth, and my own Porygon-Z does get the chance to show off its special attack and OHKO with Ice Beam. The final trainer of Victory Road has 3 unevolved Dragons, that Staraptor wholly defeats with Fly on Gible, Close Combat on Swablu, and Return on Gabite. Yeah, sure...

Just outside, there's a very important Sky Plate. This is actually the earliest you can find a Flying-boosting item for whatever reason, and it will be very appreciated in the League. Once I ascend the waterfall, I get rid of all the awful HMs. Gastrodon's Rock Smash is replaced with Muddy Water, Absol's Strength is replaced by Quick Attack (honestly, I didn't have a good idea for the last slot), and Infernape's Rock Climb is replaced by Fire Punch (with the Star Piece trader, shards are much easier to get now).

Barry (Pokemon League)

It's time for the final showdown against Barry, but for as competent as his team is they're just not enough. Pachirisu again meets Staraptor and Discharges it for around 2/3, but it U-turns out to Snorlax instead of Double Teaming. Pachirisu is more than happy to see this though, since it lets it get off a Super Fang before fainting to Body Slam. From here, my own Staraptor goes on a bit of a rampage. Snorlax goes down to Close Combat, Heracross to Pluck, and his own Staraptor is finished off with Return. Rapidash comes out, and in comes Gastrodon to take the Fire Blast. Its moveset utterly dominates Rapidash – every move is super-effective STAB, and ¾ of them OHKO. And good thing, too, because this horse wastes an absurd amount of time. The set starts off fine with Fire Blast, but then it has Bounce (wastes any move), Sunny Day (neuters water moves), and Will-O-Wisp (neuters physical moves). It burns me with Will-O-Wisp before I can Earthquake so I only do half. I then try to Surf, but it Bounces. Thankfully, I use Muddy Water as it comes down to end it. After that Roserade comes out, and I go to Infernape and Fire Punch it, then Close Combat Empoleon.

Of course, I must stop here before the finale of the Pokemon League itself. Most of this update wasn't too difficult, but you can guess who might change that next time...

Team Status:

Infernape
Level 48
Fire Punch/Stealth Rock/Close Combat/Flamethrower

Staraptor Level 48
Fly/Pluck/Return/Close Combat

Pachirisu Level 47
Bide/Spark/Discharge/Super Fang

Porygon-Z Level 47
Hyper Beam/Psychic/Thunderbolt/Ice Beam

Gastrodon Level 47
Earthquake/Surf/Muddy Water/Waterfall

Absol Level 47
Sucker Punch/Payback/Swords Dance/Quick Attack
 
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Final Preparations

Since I already did some restructuring after ditching my HMs, there's not much to do, but what's left is nevertheless important. First, I go to Veilstone and buy Protect and Light Screen TMs. Then, I go to Pastoria and relearn Trick Room on Porygon-Z over Psychic (there's only 1 Psychic-weak Pokemon left in the game). Now, on to the Pokemon League!

Aaron

With Infernape and Staraptor having Fire and Flying moves, this fight is pretty easy, and unlike Gardenia I mean it this time. Infernape Flamethrowers Yanmega, and then I go to Porygon-Z when he sends in Drapion. It's OHKOd and then some by a Downloaded Hyper Beam. Heracross destroys Porygon-Z with Stone Edge as it recharges, but I deal Heracross the same fate with Staraptor's Fly the following term. In perfect timing, it gets to Level 49 and learns Brave Bird over Pluck, which is strong enough to OHKO the Vespiquen that Aaron sends out. I was actually sort of worried about this, since it survives all other STABs, can use Defend Order, and then be real pain in the ass after getting a healing item. But, no matter, Staraptor is on the job. His last Pokemon is Scizor, and I go back to Infernape and OHKO it with Fire Punch.

Bertha

This fight also isn't that difficult, though it's not straight OHKOs like Aaron. Whiscash requires a Return and a Brave Bird from Staraptor, and then it Close Combats Golem for a good chunk of damage. Infernape keeps at it with another Close Combat and Golem falls. Infernape sets up Stealth Rock as Gliscor OHKOs it with Earthquake, though this doesn't actually do anything. I send in Porygon-Z to get a Download boost and OHKO with Ice Beam, but not before taking a lot of damage from Earthquake, hence the need to sacrifice Infernape. Hippowdon is next, and gets OHKOd as well, this time by Hyper Beam. Her ace, Rhyperior, obliterates Porygon-Z on the recharge turn, and very nearly OHKOs Gastrodon as well with Earthquake. Rhyperior's pretty scary! What is not so scary, though, is its 55 base special defense, so Surf OHKOs it back to finish the fight.

Flint

This fight, on the other hand, required some more thought. I talked about it a while ago, but to reiterate: Flint's team is fast and dangerous, and while they're not bulky they're also not that fragile, often taking enough damage to not be KOd but still trigger healing items. Plus, it's hard to avoid Sunny Day halving the damage from one of their weaknesses. I need a fast and decisive way to get through this fight, and that's where Trick Room is going to come in. I also give Gastrodon 2 Proteins to get some guaranteed KOs.

I lead with Infernape and set up Stealth Rock. Unfortunately this gives Houndoom time to set up Sunny Day, which I need to stall out. I first OHKO it with Close Combat, and then Flint sends in his own Infernape. I get a free switch to Staraptor on the Earthquake and Intimidate it, then go back to my Infernape on the -1 Flare Blitz. There's 1 turn left of sun, so now it's time to go to Porygon-Z. It doesn't take much from the -1 Earthquake intended for Infernape. Its only Fighting move is Mach Punch, so Porygon-Z only needs to take a Flare Blitz to survive and use Trick Room. It gets sniped by Mach Punch the turn after, preventing it from utilizing the Trick Room. But now it's Gastrodon's time to shine. Surf finishes off Infernape weakened by Stealth Rock and Flare Blitz recoil, and Gastrodon is then also able to KO both his Rapidash and Magmortar with Waterfall and Earthquake, respectively. With that momentous tear through his team, Flint is only left with Flareon. Gastrodon's Muddy Water isn't enough to KO it even after Stealth Rock, so rather than prompt a healing item I go to Pachirisu and Super Fang it before it faints. With only 3/8ths of Flareon's HP left, Staraptor closes out the fight with a Brave Bird (which is sadly just short of KOing it with the SR damage alone).

Lucian

I was also very worried about this fight, both in terms of how dangerous his team is and the screens Mr. Mime sets up. But in a very fortunate turn of events, his Mr. Mime is Hasty-nature, lowering its defense. It also raises its speed, so I need to use a Carbos on Staraptor to stop the speed tie, but from there I can just barely get a guaranteed KO with Sky Plate Brave Bird, negating the issue of screens entirely. And then, Lucian gives me another gift – rather than send Gallade out later when I would have to switch Staraptor back in, he just sends it out now! Staraptor gets a second easy KO with Fly. Staraptor's rampage is cut short by Alakazam's Focus Blast, though. I send in Pachirisu's who's used the Light Screen TM, finally forgetting Spark. It takes a ton of damage, but still survives and sets up Light Screen before fainting the following turn. And now, it's finally time for Absol to shine. It gets an easy OHKO on Alakazam with Sucker Punch, then survives Espeon's Signal Beam due to the screen and OHKOs with Payback. With Lucian's two most dangerous Pokemon eradicated, Infernape is free to come out after Absol faints versus Bronzong, and easily revenge kill with Choice Specs Flamethrower.

Champion Cynthia
Roughly 18% of the battle is spent listening to red-bar music. I apologize, but that's just life against Cynthia.

The one and only. Cynthia's team is truly immense; Spiritomb, Togekiss, and Milotic are all incredibly bulky Pokemon to deal with. And everything with the slight exception of Spiritomb hits like a truck. She makes for a fitting final battle that requires both good use of PP to defeat and management of Pokemon to even survive. To prepare, I teach Gastrodon Protect over Muddy Water, Infernape Captivate over Fire Punch, and Staraptor U-Turn over Close Combat. Now, let's begin!

Infernape leads versus her Spiritomb, and believe it or not uses its only move in the fight: Captivate. With -2 special attack on Spiritomb, it survives Psychic, and Absol is then able to get a free switch on another attempted Psychic. It sets up a Swords Dance while only taking around 40% from the neutered Silver Wind, then uses a faster Payback for around half, surviving another Silver Wind. Sucker Punch finally finishes Spiritomb off the next turn. Lucario comes in for revenge, and I take advantage of an AI quirk where they almost always try to finish with priority if possible. This means Lucario will use Extreme Speed, which gives me a relatively safe switch to Gastrodon. And more importantly than that, it's the only way to trick Lucario into contacting the Sticky Barb Gastrodon is holding. It takes some damage at the end of that turn, and then takes some more the next turn as Gastrodon uses Protect. Lucario then gets to actually attack with Aura Sphere, but Gastrodon survives and uses Earthquake...which Lucario also survives. But only one of us has a Sticky Barb, so Gastrodon wins. She sends in Roserade, who I let Gastrodon faint to. Staraptor then picks up the easiest KO in this fight with Fly.

Next is Togekiss, who is substantially bulkier. Fear not, though, Pachirisu is here! (after a blood sacrifice of Absol to bring it in). With a Sitrus Berry, it's barely able to survive two Aura Spheres, which lets it annihilate Togekiss with Bide. And now for the absurd Garchomp. I use Infernape as fodder to bring in Staraptor, which lowers its beastly attack with Intimidate. In an exceedingly rare feat, the combination of Intimidate and Staraptor's ludicrously low special defense causes Garchomp's strongest option to be Flamethrower despite the lack of type advantage. It does around 60%, and then Staraptor takes advantage of its slower U-Turn to safely bring in Porygon-Z. Due to Intimidate, it's able to survive Garchomp's Dragon Rush, and KO in return with a Download-boosted Ice Beam. Cynthia's last stand is Milotic, which instantly defeats Porygon-Z with Surf. Pachirisu returns in all its 10 HP glory and Super Fangs half of Milotic's HP away before going down to Dragon Pulse. I have only Staraptor left, but it's able to put its all into one final Brave Bird that just barely does enough to finish off Milotic.

And with that...I'm the Champion!

Hall of Fame



Infernape may have been reduced to a gigolo for the final battle, but beyond that it was consistently one of my best Pokemon, especially for the early game and once it got Close Combat (a.k.a. like half the game). Its STABs are just so, so good.



Staraptor was also a very consistently strong Pokemon, probably even moreso than Infernape, since it didn't even have the slight midgame troubles. While it came a little later, it was also exceptionally good versus the Pokemon League, though I'd still rank it slightly lower than Infernape overall.



Porygon-Z didn't come for a while, but it was a beast straight out the gate and while the rest of the game caught up to it a bit it still remained a very good Pokemon for the remainder of the run.



The crowd favorite...it doesn't work very well at all as a conventional Pokemon, but against Pokemon above the typical power level it shines with Bide and Super Fang. It was particularly indispensable in the early game for dealing with boss Pokemon a cut above Monferno and Staravia. Unfortunately, once they started evolving and learning broken STAB moves it fell off quite a bit, mostly doing odd jobs as a mediocre Electric-type. But it came back in a big way for Cynthia, who makes even excellent Pokemon feel subpar again.



As Water/Ground Pokemon typically are, Gastrodon was placed on the team as glue, mainly for Fire-types. While its unimpressive offensive stats were noticeable many times, its strong and useful STABs were usually enough to give it many Pokemon to deal with.



If Gastrodon was glue, then this was a band-aid. It greatly reduced the stress for Lucian, but beyond that it did nothing of note.

Closing Thoughts

This was a tense run up until Fantina, where I really had to be careful with how I approached most trainers if I wanted to win, especially Gym Leaders. After that, though, it definitely fell off a lot in difficulty. I think a lot of this was due to just how willy-nilly Gen 4 gives out strong moves. There are of course the Veilstone TMs, but even ignoring that you have Close Combat learned in the mid-30s, and multiple times at that! Sadly, I think Platinum may have been one of the worst games to do this run on. Earlier games don't even have that many strong moves like this, and most later gen games are a bit more reserved with how they dole them out. Still, at least this run came back with a pretty strong endgame.

One other sort of weird quirk about this run was that it made monotype teams generally more difficult than balanced ones. With only a select few moves to hit super-effectively, type-advantage ends up being less prominent compared to balanced teams where it's not hard at all to have a super-effective move for each Pokemon. Retrospectively, I think it might be a good idea to further this aspect by restricting each Pokemon to only 1 of each of their STABs, avoiding somewhat silly stretches like the not-particularly-restrictive midgame Wing Attack/Pluck/Aerial Ace Staravia. It's too late to implement for this run, obviously, but not for you (yes, you) to possibly try out in your own run!

Regardless, I have several other challenge runs to read through in my signature. The ones most similar to this are my Yellow No Centers/Marts and Sapphire No Healing runs, in that both prioritize PP management, albeit in more long-form ways.

Thanks for reading!
 
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God, that Cynthia fight was hype. Brand new tech with Captivate, Sticky Barb, and U-turn (mainly the Sticky Barb) and one last Bide.
 

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