Challenge Untrained NFE Run (XY) (Done - Postgame Serena defeated)

Note: I am aware that this thread about a Low Level challenge exists, but the focus of this run isn't quite the same, so I think it deserves its own thread. If OI mods think otherwise, I can post in that thread instead.

Pokemon Black/White had an amusing anti-piracy technique- if you played on a ROM, all your Pokemon would gain no EXP. While not a terribly difficult countermeasure to remove, it brought up an interesting question- was it possible to beat the entire game with this handicap? As it turns out, you can! Since then, this challenge has also been completed in at least one game for each of the first five generations. BW ends up being one of the easier games to do this on, in fact. However, to my knowledge, this challenge has not been done in Gen 6.

Which brings us to this thread. The goal of using untrained Pokemon is to mimic the effect of 0 EXP without the need for hacking. For any boss battle, I will only be using untrained Pokemon that I can catch in any available area. I will also have to fight mandatory normal trainer battles, but I won’t be anal about having completely untrained Pokemon for every single one of those. Rather, I will catch untrained Pokemon and just go through whatever route/gauntlet without caring about EXP gained. Given that individual trainer battles are much less interesting than the boss battles, I don’t think this should be too contentious, and it will spare me a lot of tedium from having to constantly re-catch Pokemon. Unfortunately, this issue does creep into the Elite 4, so my team will gain a level or two each during that. Not a big deal, but oh well. I'll at least make sure not to teach any moves they try to learn from leveling up.

While XY’s incredible Pokemon diversity is widely appreciated, I do worry that it will greatly reduce the difficulty of this challenge. In past generations, the number of viable (i.e. decent level) Pokemon you had access to for a given fight could contribute to that fight’s difficulty just as much as being underleveled. Hence, the second primary restriction of this challenge- only using NFE (Not Fully Evolved) Pokemon. This culls the Pokemon pool a bit, and often forces me to the weaker end of that pool, both of which get this challenge to a difficulty that I find interesting enough to run.

Formally, the rules for this challenge are:

-Can only use Pokemon that have not gained EXP, with slight concessions made for trainer gauntlets (including the Elite 4) as described above.
-Can’t use Vitamins, Super Training, Rare Candies, or the Daycare to bypass the above.
-All Pokemon must be NFE.

I will also be playing with a number of soft restrictions that I reserve to right to remove for specific fights if I find playing with them forces strategies that are ridiculously unreliable:

Soft Restrictions:
-Matching the number of Pokemon my opponent uses.
-Species Clause.
-Set battle mode.
-No O-Powers.
-No in-battle items (this does not apply to held items).

Which, from the top, are listed in descending order by the likelihood I would remove them. While I’m pretty optimistic about not needing to ditch the last 4, I’ll be honest and say there’s a good chance the first restriction will be lifted a few times (spoilers: I don’t use it for Viola). Though even when I do, I will still try and minimize the number of Pokemon I use.

Well, that’s all that needs to be said about the background and rules. Time to start the run!

Update 1: The Bug Badge

Up to Santalune Gym:

First choice: a starter. The starter influences both which eeveelution and starter Serena uses on her team. I choose Froakie so she’ll end up with Vaporeon and Chesnaught. For the fights she’ll have Vaporeon, good-leveled Lombres are available to counter it, and Chesnaught is by far the slowest of the starters, which I think will make it the easiest to deal with.

The first battle versus Shauna can be lost without consequence, which I do to minimize the EXP Froakie gains. Before Santalune City, a level 5 Zigzagoon and later a level 5 Pikachu need to be fought, both of which Froakie defeats, causing it to grow to level 8. At this point, in spite of what I said earlier, I choose to abandon it for anything besides catching Pokemon (which annoyingly gives you EXP as of XY). While later on I don’t think the EXP of a few trainers will make a big difference, it definitely does now- a level 8 Froakie is much higher level than anything else I have access to (nothing is higher than level 5 on Route 3).

There’s a Roller Skater on Route 22 I need to fight to access the grass. I catch Pikachu and a male Fletchling to deal with her Psyduck and Litleo. Pikachu handily defeats Psyduck, and gets a Tail Whip on Litleo before it faints. Fletchling finishes it off with a 3HKO from Tackle, surviving two Embers due to Litleo’s Rivalry weakening it. Litleo actually was faster and would have been able to win, but it stupidly used Leer on the last turn instead of finishing Fletchling off.

Viola and the Santalune Gym:

For the trainers guarding Viola, I use a Counter Riolu to deal with the Zigzagoon in front of the gym, and a Litleo to easily defeat the trainer with Kakuna and Combee.

Viola has a Surskit, which thwarts attempts fight her with Fire types, and further rubs it in by using Water Sport to extend that protection to Vivillon. It doesn't really make any focused attempt to counter Bug's weaknesses, but its unresisted 50 BP Tackle and large defenses (probably the only time Vivillon will have its defenses described as such) alone make it a formidable foe. And unfortunately, my options are terrible for Viola, and as such I didn’t match her number of Pokemon. There are no hold items* or TMs to use, and a large portion of available Pokemon are too low-leveled to be effective- everything not on Route 22 is level 5 at best, compared to her level 10/12 team. And even on Route 22, there's only one indirect method of damage, and only one Pokemon with type effectiveness versus her team. Naturally, I’ll be using both of them.

*This isn't actually true, I've since realized that wild Zigzagoon can hold Oran Berries. With that in mind, I think it's possible to beat this fight with only 2 Pokemon. I don't care enough to restart the challenge midway for this, but if I can beat the rest of the challenge with all my soft restrictions, I'll probably restart and do Viola again since she's only the first gym leader, so I can claim that I finished the entire challenge with those soft restrictions.

Viola's team: Surskit Lv 10/Vivillon Lv 12

My team:

Psyduck Lv 6
Stats: 23 HP/12 Atk/11 Def/13 SpA/12 SpD/13 Spd
IVs: 17 - 31/13 - 29/4 - 20/4 - 19/17 - 31/24 - 31
~Tail Whip

Riolu Lv 7
Hardy/Inner Focus
Stats: 24 HP/16 Atk/10 Def/10 SpA/12 SpD/13 Spd
IVs: 20 - 31/18 - 31/0 - 5/2 - 15/20 - 31/0 - 8
~Quick Attack

Litleo Lv 6 (Female)
Stats: 23 HP/12 Atk/12 Def/15 SpA/11 SpD/12 Spd
IVs: 0 - 9/17 - 31/1 - 17/4 - 20/0 - 8/6 - 22

I'm only listing used moves to save a bit of space.

I lead with Psyduck versus Viola’s Surskit. The end goal is to get off 5 Tail Whips before fainting. Doing this requires some luck- I need Surskit to use its Water Sport once, and of the remaining 4 attacks, 2 of them need to be Bubble. If only 2 Bubbles are used, I need some luck with damage rolls as well, though 3 or more is smooth sailing. As annoying as that sounds, in my experience it wasn’t too uncommon for that to occur, despite Surskit having no reason to use Bubble. The exact sequence in my winning attempt was Quick Attack-Bubble-Water Sport-Quick Attack-Bubble, before being finished by another Quick Attack.

Once that’s done, Riolu comes out to finish the job. Your intuition might think a -5 Def Surskit would die to any physical attack, but actually I need that to even 2HKO it with Riolu’s Quick Attack, just to illustrate how poor my direct damage is. It doesn’t really matter what Surskit uses on the first turn it gets, but on the turn I finish it with Quick Attack it needs to not use its own Quick Attack so Riolu has enough health for Vivillon.

If Vivillon uses Infestation versus Riolu, it would have too little health to Counter Vivillon's Tackle, so I need that to not happen. It wastes its first 2 turns with Harden, then uses Tackle, which I Counter back at it for ~40%. I could have gotten off a Quick Attack after that, but I avoid doing so to prevent Viola from using a Potion later.

Rivalry-boosted Litleo barely finishes off Vivillon with 2 Embers, since it can survive 2 Tackles from Vivillon. It also just barely misses the cut-off for Viola to use a Potion, which would spell certain doom as I can't keep up with that healing.

That's all for now. Since I'm on break, I should be able to update this fairly often.
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Revenge Twofold
is a Community Contributor Alumnus
This sounds really interesting. I like to watch Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix speedruns where the player remains Level 1 via the use of an in-game ability, but that game's damage formula compensates for low strength to prevent you from only doing scratch damage and ensures most attacks won't one-shot you. I'm extremely curious as to how you're going to pull this off.
This sounds really interesting. I like to watch Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix speedruns where the player remains Level 1 via the use of an in-game ability, but that game's damage formula compensates for low strength to prevent you from only doing scratch damage and ensures most attacks won't one-shot you. I'm extremely curious as to how you're going to pull this off.
As Litleo shows, raw damage output is passable with STAB and type advantage, I just had very little of that for Viola (Pikachu is literally the only other Pokemon with it, and that's only level 5 and very fragile). And later on, I'll have far more options for %-based damage like Rocky Helmet, Toxic, Will-o-wisp, and Leech Seed, which should help immensely. Surviving could get a bit antsy, but I'm hoping the reasonably frequent access to decent level Sturdy Pokemon (thanks Rock Smash), good type match-ups, and the Eviolite (obtained fairly early in Shalour City, IIRC) will make it manageable.
Update 2: The Cliff Badge

Up to Cyllage Gym:

Route 4 has no mandatory trainers, so nothing to say there. Up in Lumiose City, while I’m fairly sure you can just lose to Sycamore, I decide to fight him in a real battle just to give the Route 4 Pokemon a chance to shine. I brought a team of Combee/Skitty/Budew, all level 8. Combee handily defeats Bulbasaur with Gust, Skitty defeats Charmander with Attract, Tail Whip, and Tackle, and Budew defeats Squirtle by using Growth twice and Absorbing it to death. After the fight, I choose Bulbasaur because it knows Leech Seed. While I'm not really seeing a chance where it will actually be able to utilize that, it's more than I can ever see Squirtle or Charmander contributing.

The fight versus Tierno’s Corphish on Route 5 is trivial with a caught Skiddo. I steal Snorlax’s Sitrus Berry before running away, then catch a Roselia to handily deal with the Tierno/Trevor double battle- Pikachu/Corphish/Flabebe all have a bad match-up versus it. The last mandatory fights before Grant are a small group of 3 Team Flare Grunts in Glittering Cave, who are easily dispatched with a Sandile and Hippopotas I caught outside and taught Bulldoze. Scraggy is the only possible concern, but it's fought in a double battle with Serena who helps immensely. I choose the Sail Fossil at the end because I have an idea for Grant that utilizes Amaura, though it doesn't pan out. But, Amaura will get its time in the limelight soon enough.


Unlike most Rock gym leaders who are infamous for losing the instant a Water or Grass type enters the fray, Grant puts up much more of a fight. With Refrigerate, his Amaura's Take Down is incredibly strong, destroying anything weak to it (notably Grass and Ground types), and even a lot of things that are only hit neutrally by it. It also frequently uses Thunder Wave, almost ensuring that whatever defeats it is dead on sight once Tyrunt comes out. Tyrunt itself has a Dragon typing, which neutralizes the infamous Water and Grass weaknesses. And with its high attack, STAB Rock Tomb, and Strong Jaw Bite (essentially STAB as well), it's very difficult to wall, and doesn't even have 4x weaknesses like Amaura to exploit. On the bright side, at least one route past the Cyllage Gym can be accessed (Route 10), which helps a lot.

Grant's team: Amaura Lv 25/Tyrunt Lv 25

My team:

Snubbull Lv 21 @ Berry Juice
Stats: 62 HP/42 Atk/30 Def/20 SpA/27 SpD/18 Spd
IVs: 28 - 31/2 - 6/20 - 23/6 - 10/25 - 29/2 - 6
~Rock Smash

Onix Lv 17 @ Rocky Helmet
Stats: 39 HP/21 Atk/64 Def/14 SpA/23 SpD/33 Spd
IVs: 1 - 6/5 - 9/28 - 31/5 - 10/5 - 9/25 - 30
~Rock Smash
~Sleep Talk

With Intimidate, solid defensive IVs, and a Berry Juice, Snubbull just barely survives 2 Take Downs from Amaura. Which really demonstrates Amaura's strength- Berry Juice is a very strong healing item at this point in the game, Intimidate practically makes a Pokemon 50% bulkier against physical attacks, Snubbull has solid HP/Def, and it STILL almost 2HKOs. But despite Amaura's strength, Snubbull is able to exploit its Achilles Heel and actually 2HKO it with Rock Smash.

Tyrunt comes out next, and I immediately switch to Onix, then back to Snubbull to suicide-Intimidate Tyrunt. The need for this is clear- Onix takes nearly 40% from Bite on the switch-in, and it’s by far the physically bulkiest Pokemon available. Once Onix is back out, I start Bulldozing Tyrunt. This is Onix's strongest attack versus Tyrunt, and it also lowers it speed so Bite won't flinch. However, I stumble upon an effective AI exploit in the process. Once Tyrunt is slower than Onix, it will often try to rectify this by using Rock Tomb instead to be faster again. But since I keep using Bulldoze, it ends up inefficiently using a lot of turns trying to regain its speed advantage with the much weaker Rock Tomb (roughly half as strong as Bite). Despite this, Onix needs to use Rest to keep up with Tyrunt and the Hyper Potion it gets from Grant. Rock Smash is there solely as an option for Sleep Talk, though Bulldoze is always ideal. After a drawn-out battle (Bulldoze is a 5HKO on Tyrunt before factoring in possible Rocky Helmet damage and defense drops), Onix emerges victorious.

Up next: Two fights with Korrina. Korrina has jack shit for coverage and loses really hard to Ghost types, so I'm going to avoid using any in those fights.
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So this update ended up being a lot longer than I expected. Even though the gap between Viola and Grant is usually the longest gym gap, in terms of battles I need to fight, there's way more here. In total there were 10 normal trainers and 2 boss fights besides the gym leader.

Update 3: Road to the Rumble Badge

Route 10:

Route 10 has a few Team Flare grunts to fight. Fun fact, it’s actually possible to skip these battles since Geosenge Town is available before fighting Grant. If the Geosenge center was the last one you used, you can either white out or use Teleport after beating Grant to warp there, and then you’re free to go onto Route 11. I meant to set this up but I completely forgot until it was too late :x On that note, I also forgot that these grunts were here at all, so I just charged in with my utility team of Run Away Snubbull (very useful for all the extremely fast Pokemon on this and future routes), Roselia/Hippopotas (Cut/Strength), and Abra for Teleport. Snubbull 2HKOs the first grunt’s Houndour with Headbutt, while avoiding two Smogs. Golbat comes out next and is potentially scary, but Snubbull manages to paralyze it with Lick, Charm it, and add some chip damage before fainting. Hippopotas finishes off the nerfed Golbat with a few Strengths. There’s only one other grunt that needs to be fought, and with only Electrike and Croagunk, he’s easy pickings for Hippopotas’ Bulldoze.

Korrina’s Lucarios:

Unlike Route 10’s Team Flare invasion, I did remember this. And thank god for that, since walking into two Lucarios unprepared is certain doom. As I mentioned in my previous post, I won’t be using Ghost-types for Korrina fights since it’s just unfair. Both Lucarios only have Feint for coverage, though unlike the later gym battle, this is probably justified since Lucario’s stats are titanic compared to most things even a normal run would have at this point. There actually aren’t that many fighting resists in recent routes, despite how many types resist it. There’s Woobat, which can’t even hope to compete with Feint’s damage (what a sad sentence to type), and Snubbull, who once again is my savior.

I use an extra Intimidate Snubbull I caught when catching one for Grant, with a rather eclectic set of Bulldoze/Charm/Rest/Sleep Talk. Armed with a Soft Sand, Bulldoze 3HKOs Lucario. However, I need to Charm the first Lucario as much as possible and utilize Rest to finish it with good health so the second one doesn’t finish me off quickly. Unfortunately, Lucario can use Swords Dance which can make it difficult to keep its attack stat down, but I manage to defeat the first Lucario with ~75% of my health. Without an initial Intimidate and some health missing, I can’t quite finish the second Lucario, but Snubbull gets off two Bulldozes before fainting. In reserve I have a Rocky Helmet Hippopotas with Bulldoze to finish off Lucario. I think I could have lost even then if Lucario Swords Danced before attacking, but thankfully it didn’t.

Reflection Cave:

Normally the most difficult dungeon in the game, most of Reflection Cave’s most dangerous trainers are not mandatory. Seriously, that Black Belt with Hawlucha and Throh (with coverage moves!) would make a better Fighting Gym Leader than Korrina. But for what I needed to fight, I brought another Onix, a Staravia, and a Stunky. The first of 4 fights is a trainer with only Linoone, which I Intimidate first then switch to Onix with Rocky Helmet and slowly whittle it down. Emphasis on slowly- Linoone constantly spammed Sand Attack, and if it wasn’t for the Rocky Helmet I probably would have had to resort to Sleep Talk to not run out of attacking PP.

Next up is an Ace Trainer with Doduo, Helioptile, and Granbull, which I expected to solo with Onix. But Doduo’s Uproar and Helioptile’s Mud-Slap 3HKOd me, so I had to use Staravia to beat Doduo, and a combination of Onix and Stunky to defeat Helioptile. Most of Granbull’s health was removed from an Endeavor from Staravia, which got to low health by switching in on Granbull. Onix (well, the Rocky Helmet, really) finished it off. I healed after this battle, only to enter the next room and find a breeder who heals you. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this mistake every playthrough >_>

The other two battles were fairly easy. One had Chimecho and Golett, which Stunky soloed with Thief, and the last fight was a double battle versus Combee and Vespiquen, where Staravia and Onix have a good match-up. Vespiquen actually OHKOd Staravia with Power Gem, but it couldn’t stand up to Stunky and Onix.

Serena (Tower of Mastery):

Continuing my forgetful streak, I forgot that this battle was before Korrina. Serena’s actually much more difficult than Korrina, mainly because of Absol. It’s incredibly strong, almost impossible to outspeed, and nothing that resists it’s Bite (plus the awful 30% flinch chance) can stand up to 50% crit Slashes. Fortunately, the all-important Eviolite is now available, so that plus a lot of %-based damage can do Absol in. Plus, her other two Pokemon aren’t too bad.

Serena's team: Meowstic Lv 28/Absol Lv 28/Quilladin Lv 30

My team:

Stunky Lv 21 @ Rocky Helmet
Stats: 61 HP/36 Atk/24 Def/27 SpA/24 SpD/41 Spd
IVs: 17 - 21/8 - 12/11 - 15/23 - 27/9 - 13/24 - 28

Ferroseed Lv 22 @ Eviolite
Naughty/Iron Barbs
Stats: 56 HP/29 Atk/50 Def/15 SpA/39 SpD/11 Spd
IVs: 22 - 25/0 - 4/23 - 27/0 - 1/6 - 9/8 - 11
~Gyro Ball

Staravia Lv 23 @ Sharp Beak
Stats: 65 HP/40 Atk/28 Def/25 SpA/25 SpD/50 Spd
IVs: 30 - 31/3 - 6/0 - 4/20 - 24/7 - 11/19 - 22
~Wing Attack

Stunky starts off versus Meowstic. I use Protect to neutralize Fake Out. This lets me survive two Disarming Voices, and I use those turns to Screech then Payback, which almost finishes it off, but Feint afterwards snipes it. Out comes the dreaded Absol, and I fire off a final Feint for some chip damage. But the real damage comes from Stunky’s parting gift, a combination of Rocky Helmet and Aftermath. Combined, these take off nearly half of Absol’s health.

I send out Staravia to Intimidate, then immediately switch to Ferroseed. I don’t actually get more practical survivability doing this compared to sending in Ferroseed in the first place (I still faint after 3 Bites once Ferroseed is in), but it does give Absol an extra bit of Iron Barbs recoil. Once in, Ferroseed only needs to get in one Gyro Ball to beat Absol (it does ~30%), since that, two Iron Barbs, and Stunky’s finisher is enough to defeat it. Absol flinches me on the first Bite it can, but doesn’t even give itself the chance to cheese me as it Slashes on the second turn and dies to Gyro Ball. Quilladin comes out and flinches me with Bite to finish me off, but it doesn’t really matter.

Staravia with a Sharp Beak 3HKOs Quilladin with Wing Attack. As long as I’m faster, I can easily outmuscle Quilladin due to Intimidate. Though being faster was not as trivial as I thought it would be- Quilladin should have 45 speed, which a non-+speed nature Staravia would need a 19+ speed IV to outspeed. For the record, I’m assuming all gym leaders and rival Pokemon have 20 IV/0 EV stats. This matches the ORAS demo dumps (well IIRC the early rival battles in ORAS use 15 IV, but I’d rather assume higher IVs to be safe). I’ve at least confirmed that Grant’s Amaura is like this- it speed tied with my 33 speed Onix with a failed strategy I was trying.

Korrina and the Shalour Gym:

All the trainers in Korrina’s gym need to be fought. Fortunately, I can go ahead to Route 12 before beating her. If memory serves, that’s the last time in this game I get to enjoy that level of freedom. I bring a team of Snubbull, Exeggcute, and Staravia. The premise was to use Snubbull’s Charm to set up Swords Dance Exeggcute, with Staravia as back-up and to deal with the Heracross. But the first trainer I run into was having none of that. He leads with a Circle Throw Pancham, and his Machoke and Throh both have Seismic Toss, which means my plan has to be ditched. Instead, I lead with Staravia, who does ~50% with Wing Attack, then gets swapped with Snubbull via Circle Throw. Snubbull finishes it off with two Headbutts, and Thunder Waves the Throh that comes out. Snubbull gets off one Charm before fainting, and then I send in Exeggcute. I get off a Swords Dance and Bullet Seed it to death. If it was smart, it would just Seismic Toss, but it often used direct Fighting moves instead, which did almost nothing due to Charm and Eviolite. Machoke comes out last, and Exeggcute is able to get off one Bullet Seed before Machoke finishes it. Staravia finishes Machoke with two Wing Attacks.

The other notable trainer has Sawk and Hariyama. I’m able to use my planned strategy this time to set up on Sawk, but it gets a crit as I set up, which doesn’t deal too much damage but is enough for Hariyama to immediately KO Exeggcute with Knock Off. Snubbull is sent out again and is able to Intimidate and Charm Hariyama before fainting, which nerfs it enough for Staravia to run through it.

The other two trainers are simple. One has a Meditite and Mienfoo, which Exeggcute sets up on and sweeps. The other just has a Heracross, which Snubbull paralyzes and Charms before Staravia 2HKOs it.

Now for Korrina. Honestly, even without Ghost types, Korrina isn’t that difficult. I ran into way more snags with her trainers, who have more effective measures at dealing with Fighting-resists.

Korrina's team: Mienfoo Lv 29/Machoke Lv 28/Hawlucha Lv 32

My team:

Snubbull Lv 21 @ Oran Berry
Stats: 58 HP/40 Atk/31 Def/26 SpA/22 SpD/20 Spd
IVs: 9 - 13/7 - 11/24 - 28/20 - 24/1 - 5/12 - 16
~Thunder Wave

Exeggcute Lv 24 @ Eviolite
Stats: 67 HP/26 Atk/48 Def/37 SpA/33 SpD/21 Spd
IVs: 18 - 21/8 - 11/20 - 23/1 - 4/27 - 30/0 - 3
~Swords Dance
~Bullet Seed

Woobat Lv 23 @ Rocky Helmet
Stats: 61 HP/28 Atk/34 Def/35 SpA/28 SpD/38 Spd
IVs: 12 - 16/28 - 31/28 - 31/21 - 24/14 - 18/0 - 3
~Thunder Wave
~Air Cutter

Snubbull Protects Mienfoo’s Fake Out, then goes to work Thunder Waving and Charming it. Power-Up Punch makes this process slower than it needs to be, but I’m not really in any danger. Just in case of a crit rampage, I have an Oran Berry.

Once Mienfoo is at -5 attack, I switch in Exeggcute, who takes negligible damage at this point. I only set up to +4 at first, then use Frustration. With my attack stat and Frustration’s default BP (74), it’s at a perfect point where two hits will get Mienfoo into Hyper Potion range. I take advantage of this and have Korrina waste both her Hyper Potions on her neutered Mienfoo. I get off my last Swords Dance, then go to town with Bullet Seed. At +6, Mienfoo dies to 4 “bullets”, and Machoke to 6. Machoke isn’t as helpless as Mienfoo, but its Rock Tomb isn’t nearly enough to outdamage Bullet Seed. Hawlucha comes in and sets up Hone Claws on Exeggcute (even though I’m certain it can KO with Flying Press), and I use Strength, which does a modest 30%. It finishes me right after.

Woobat comes in to finish the job. Unaware ignores Hawlucha’s boost, and with its 4x Fighting resist, Woobat seems perfectly-equipped for the job. Despite that, Hawlucha still can beat Woobat in a straight-up brawl since it's faster, so I need the help of Rocky Helmet to beat Hawlucha. I also Thunder Wave it, though there’s really no need to. After 3 turns, Hawlucha faints and the Rumble Badge is mine.
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Update 4: The Plant Badge

Route 12 has no one necessary to fight, so it’s a straight shot to Coumarine City. There I get the Good Rod, which combined with my newly-usable Surf gives me a plethora of new Water-type Pokemon to use. Also, I apparently am not locked off from the next route as I thought, so I have access to Route 13 and two new Ground-type Pokemon. Armed with all these new Water and Ground types, I'll be prepared to fight Ramos, the…Grass-type leader. Damn it. Well, on the bright side, the Trick Room TM is available here, and that I actually do put to great use.

Serena (Coumarine City):

Normally, this fight is really pointless, given how recent the previous Serena fight was, and that her team is identical except being 3 levels higher. However, those extra 3 levels are enough to mostly invalidate my previous strategy, so this fight is still fresh. And honestly, much easier this time.

Serena’s Team: Meowstic Lv 31/Absol Lv 31/Quilladin Lv 33

My team:

Onix Lv 17 @ Amulet Coin
Stats: Don’t matter
~Stealth Rock

Exeggcute Lv 26 @ Black Sludge
Stats: 68 HP/28 Atk/48 Def/45 SpA/30 SpD/33 Spd
IVs: 4 - 6/9 - 12/6 - 9/19 - 22/22 - 25/28 - 31
~Trick Room

Dwebble Lv 24 @ Metronome
Brave/Shell Armor
Stats: 63 HP/44 Atk/50 Def/22 SpA/25 SpD/30 Spd
IVs: 21 - 24/16 - 19/18 - 21/1 - 4/14 - 17/11 - 14
~Swords Dance

So as you can probably tell, the goal here is to pull off a sweep with Dwebble. It’s pretty refreshing to be able to pull stuff like this off occasionally even with my gimped options. Anyways, Onix leads with the sole purpose of setting up Stealth Rock. Protect is used so Meowstic’s Fake Out doesn’t break Sturdy, and then Onix sets up SR.

Exeggcute’s up next. Its primary purpose is to set up Trick Room, but it also needs to weaken Meowstic a bit for Dwebble. And the most awkward part is that it needs to set up Trick Room with 4 turns remaining for Dwebble. This means it needs to die the turn it uses Trick Room, which is difficult due to Trick Room’s negative priority. This is where Black Sludge comes in handy. I use my whole set in the listed order (Confide, Infestation, Protect, Trick Room), which causes Exeggcute to just barely survive one last Psybeam and set up Trick Room as Black Sludge finishes it off.

Dwebble comes out last to begin its sweep. With a Confide, Dwebble survives Psybeam without Sturdy (I don’t want to rely on Sturdy to survive since Absol has Quick Attack) and sets up a Swords Dance. X-Scissor defeats Meowstic courtesy of the few turns of Infestation damage. Absol comes out next and is easily OHKO’d by X-Scissor. But Quilladin is very bulky and the reason for my strange item choice of Metronome. In case you’re unaware what it does (I wouldn’t blame you), Metronome provides successively larger boosts the more you use a move in a row, providing no boost the first time a move is used, but multiplies BP by 1.2, 1.4, etc (up to 2) as turns progress. So in this case, I ended up with a x1.4 damage boost for Quilladin, which in tandem with SR is enough to OHKO it with X-Scissor on the last turn of TR.

Ramos and the Coumarine Gym:

As I griped about earlier, Grass is a pretty bad type to deal with for most of the recently available Pokemon. Fortunately, Grass is also an infamously bad attacking type generally speaking, so there’s no shortage of Pokemon good for this gym if I’m willing to look back a bit further. Three trainers need to be fought in Ramos’ gym, but honestly they’re all pretty easy. I brought Staravia, Ferroseed, and Dwebble. The first trainer just has a Simisage, which Rocky Helmet Ferroseed takes care of with Simisage doing most of the work by using Fury Swipes. Next trainer has Roselia and Grass Wormadam, which are both OHKO’d by Staravia’s Fly despite being 8 levels higher. The last trainer uses Gloom and Exeggutor. Gloom is 2HKO’d by Staravia, and Exeggutor can’t deal with the combined Bug assault of Pin Missile Ferroseed and Dwebble.

Unlike his trainers, Ramos is not quite so one-dimensional. Jumpluff’s Acrobatics is very dangerous, especially considering every recent Flying resist is weak to Grass, while Gogoat has Take Down and Bulldoze, which provide a mostly unresisted pair of coverage moves. It’s hard to not take neutral damage from these Pokemon, which is a very bad thing with my stat and level disadvantage, so a more offensive strategy needs to be taken.

Ramos’ Team: Jumpluff Lv 30/Weepinbell Lv 31/Gogoat Lv 34

My team:

Solosis Lv 23 @ Eviolite
Timid/Magic Guard
Stats: 56 HP/19 Atk/25 Def/57 SpA/31 SpD/22 Spd
IVs: 10 - 14/14 - 18/7 - 11/17 - 20/14 - 17/26 - 29
~Trick Room
~Light Screen

Amaura Lv 20 @ Amulet Coin
Stats: 60 HP/35 Atk/30 Def/35 SpA/31 SpD/24 Spd
IVs: 0 /17 - 21/25 - 29/16 - 20/4 - 8/18 - 22
~Aurora Beam

Drifloon Lv 15 @ Rocky Helmet
Stats: 55 HP/24 Atk/17 Def/24 SpA/22 SpD/28 Spd
IVs: 20 - 26/27 - 31/12 - 18/7 - 13/26 - 31/14 - 19

Solosis leads off, and can barely survive Jumpluff’s Acrobatics with Eviolite. It uses Trick Room followed by Light Screen to start the battle off on a high note.

Mad at the world for decrying its battle prowess, Amaura comes back to vent its Frustration. It’s at max BP- I used Energy Roots from Lumiose City to reduce Amaura’s happiness to 0. Base happiness for Amaura is 70 and each Energy Root reduces it by 10, so 7 are needed in total. With Refrigerate’s power boost, this gives Amaura an incredibly strong STAB move which, despite the 10 level difference, OHKOs Jumpluff while going first courtesy of Trick Room. Unfortunately I can’t quite replicate this herculean strike versus Weepinbell, but I can still easily 2HKO with Aurora Beam+Frustration (I avoid starting with Frustration so Ramos doesn’t use a Hyper Potion, causing TR to run out), and survive Grass Knot due to the Light Screen Solosis set up. But now TR is over, and without it, Amaura is finished without a moment’s hesitation once Gogoat comes in.

While Take Down and Bulldoze combined are resisted by very few Pokemon, the one I do have access to, Drifloon, is phenomenal against Gogoat. It’s outright immune to both these moves, and resists Grass Knot while also being very light (so 20 BP). In theory, this should be such an easy match-up that I could win it in my sleep. The issue? The highest level Drifloon I can find is level 15, a whopping 19 levels lower than Gogoat. So despite its amazing typing, Drifloon is still 4HKO’d by Grass Knot and obviously can’t reciprocate with its own damaging moves. Fortunately, Grass Knot is actually a contact move, so Rocky Helmet takes the reigns for damage, and I can lower the damage with Confide. I use it twice, then Embargo, then Rest. Embargo prevents Ramos from using Hyper Potions and dragging the fight out. At this point Gogoat’s attacked 4 times, and needs to do so 3 more times before it faints. With Rest I have plenty of health to take those last attacks, and Gogoat kills itself as Drifloon dozes off. I guess this match-up actually was easy enough to win in my sleep ;)
Update 5: The Voltage Badge

Power Plant:

The Power Plant is the first area so far that has a ton of required trainers, 11 in total, due to a Team Flare invasion. The Pokemon I caught for this gauntlet were Clamperl, Graveler, Trapinch, and Dwebble. There’s a Deep Sea Tooth up in Azure Bay, which makes Clamperl a force to be reckoned with. Despite the 19 total Pokemon fought here, only 7 of them unique. As a result, rather than go trainer by trainer, it’s a lot more efficient for me to just talk about my approach for each of these 7 Pokemon, since none of them require teamwork to take down:

-Croagunk: OHKO’d by Trapinch. I usually gave Trapinch a Persim Berry to prevent Swagger shenanigans.
-Scraggy: Despite being the only other completely unevolved Pokemon, Scraggy was the most awkward Pokemon to deal with, mainly because of how stupidly strong High Jump Kick is. However, the normal trainer AI is random, so there’s only a 1/4 chance of seeing HJK. So the ideal strategy was just to KO it quickly as possible and hope for the best, with liberal use of Protect to try and cause HJK recoil, which evened the odds a bit. For this I used Clamperl, who 2HKO’d with Surf.
-Golbat: Easily beaten by Graveler.
-Houndoom: Easily beaten by Clamperl.
-Liepard: Dwebble 2HKOs with X-Scissor and doesn’t take too much damage from Assurance. Though as I found out in one the battles Clamperl works just as well.
-Swalot: Trapinch 2HKOs with Bulldoze. Body Slam actually 2HKOs back and Swalot’s faster, but that never happened because trainer AI is dumb.
-Mightyena: I used Dwebble for these, though Roar meant I usually ended up with something else out anyways. I also used Persim Berries for Swagger, which did come into play versus Aliana for an easy victory.

Clemont and the Lumiose Gym:

For the mandatory 4 trainers in the gym, I bring Graveler (who ends up doing all the work) and Exeggcute. Graveler easily defeats the first 2 trainers, who just use Dedenne and Raichu. Next is Ampharos, who is potentially troublesome because it can use Confuse Ray, and 3HKOs (or 2HKOs with a turn of Confusion self-hitting) with Power Gem. Fortunately, Graveler doesn’t hit itself in confusion at all, and cleanly 2HKOs Ampharos with Dig. Last is Plusle, which throws me for a loop with Copycat- the turn after I Dig underground, it uses Copycat and does the same, causing my Dig to miss. It’s an amusingly effective counter for Dig, but unfortunately for it, the Copycat Dig it gets off isn’t strong enough to stop me from just using Magnitude instead.

Onto Clemont himself. Even though the previous route is filled with Ground types, this battle isn’t trivial. Emolga is immune to Ground moves, Magneton always wins 1v1 versus Ground types due to an incredibly strong Mirror Shot and Sturdy, and Heliolisk has Grass Knot. Anything else has to deal with STAB Thunderbolts, which are far too strong to wall coming from Magneton’s and Heliolisk’s 120 and 109 base special attacks, respectively. Fortunately, Clemont has a weak link in his team that I can exploit.

Clemont’s team: Emolga Lv 35/Magneton Lv 35/Heliolisk Lv 37

My team:

Onix Lv 17 @ Rocky Helmet
Stats: Don’t matter
~Stealth Rock

Staravia Lv 22 @ Amulet Coin
Stats: Don’t matter
~No moves used

Graveler Lv 27 @ Cheri Berry
Stats: 68 HP/60 Atk/67 Def/35 SpA/32 SpD/31 Spd
IVs: 5 - 8/14 - 17/30 - 31/22 - 24/10 - 13/19 - 22
~Power-Up Punch
~Rock Polish
~Smack Down

The goal here is to set up Graveler on Emolga. Even though Emolga has a good match-up versus the other Ground types available, its Aerial Ace does little damage to Graveler’s 115 base defense and Rock-typing, though a little assistance is still needed. Onix reprises its role from the Coumarine City Serena fight and sets up Stealth Rock, while also doing some damage to Emolga with Rocky Helmet.

Once it faints, I send out Staravia to Intimidate Emolga. It ineffectively tries to Volt Switch as I switch to Graveler, and then I switch back to Staravia again for another Intimidate. At -2 attack, Emolga is weak enough for the many turns of set-up I’ll need, with enough wiggle room to allow it a lucky crit.

To sweep Clemont’s team, Graveler needs to be at +2 attack and +6 speed, which translates to 2 Power-Up Punches and 3 Rock Polishes. I have a Cheri Berry on Graveler because of Emolga’s Static, which I risk triggering twice due to setting up with Power-Up Punch. Once Graveler’s done setting up, it KOs Emolga with Smack Down, which requires the prior Rocky Helmet damage. Heliolisk and Magneton are both KOd by Dig, with the latter’s Sturdy not being an issue due to Stealth Rock.
Update 6: The Fairy Badge

Serena (Route 14):

Serena’s back again with a similar team, now 4 levels higher. Her Meowstic also has a stronger STAB move in Psychic, and most importantly her Quilladin has evolved. This is likely the only point where my assumption that her Grass starter would be the least threatening is proven wrong and then some- Chesnaught is absolutely monstrous at this point. Despite a mediocre base speed of 64, it's much higher level than my Pokemon and recent offerings for me are very slow, so I can't outspeed it, invalidating the main reason I thought it would be easier. It’s also incredibly bulky, making Trick Room infeasible. And, a large portion of recently available Pokemon are weak to its Seed Bomb, with earlier resistors being statistically outclassed to such a ridiculous degree that Chesnaught’s Bite destroys them. But much like Clemont, I can take advantage of her relatively docile lead to more or less not have to deal with this titan.

Serena’s team: Meowstic Lv 35/Absol Lv 35/Chesnaught Lv 37

My team:

Stunky Lv 21 @ Eviolite
Stats: 60 HP/32 Atk/31 Def/23 SpA/26 SpD/37 Spd
IVs: 13 - 16/3 - 7/30 - 31/4 - 8/18 - 22/5 - 9

Mantyke Lv 27 @ Amulet Coin
Impish/Water Absorb
Stats: 69 HP/23 Atk/38 Def/40 SpA/70 SpD/40 Spd
IVs: 29 - 31/27 - 30/12 - 14/29 - 31/1 - 4/30 - 31

Ferroseed Lv 23 @ Leftovers
Lonely/Iron Barbs
Stats: 59 HP/31 Atk/43 Def/17 SpA/51 SpD/15 Spd
IVs: 26 - 29/5 - 8/5 - 9/5 - 8/28 - 31/24 - 27
~Gyro Ball

Rather than setting up a fast sweeper like Graveler versus Clemont, the goal here is to set up a bulky one with Ferroseed. To do this, I need to nerf Meowstic’s special attack as much as possible with Confide. I lead with Stunky since Meowstic can only muster Disarming Voice on it once Fake Out is burned on Protect. It’s able to get off 3 Confides before it faints, and Mantyke comes in to finish the job, easily shrugging off the nerfed Psychics with its 120 base special defense. Once Meowstic’s at -6, Mantyke Surfs it a few times to make sure 1 Gyro Ball finishes it off later.

I switch to Ferroseed on the turn Light Screen runs out, since I’m fairly confident Meowstic will renew it, and it does. At -6, Meowstic’s Psychic is almost entirely negated with Leftovers+Protect. And it removes any progress it ever makes by randomly using Disarming Voice, which the end of turn Leftovers negates. The only roadblock in setting up 6 Curses is Meowstic critting Ferroseed for ~85%, but that’s why I have Rest. Leftovers deals with Meowstic as Ferroseed sleeps. Once 6 Curses have been set up, Ferroseed tears through Meowstic with a 150 BP Gyro Ball. Absol comes and Slashes me for minimal damage, though I was lucky it didn’t crit (50% crit rate with high crit move+Super Luck) which would have dealt ~70%, though as long I spammed Protect for Leftovers recovery this shouldn’t have mattered. The colossal Chesnaught comes out last, but fails to do notable damage as it gets 2HKOd by Gyro Ball.

Collection interlude:

The upcoming Valerie fight has more stringent stat requirements than previous fights, so I take the opportunity to catch a lot of Synchronize Ralts. Honestly, I should have done this a long time ago, but using Synchronize for non-legendary Pokemon isn’t something that crossed my mind until now. I was only looking for any +Def nature, but it actually took 22 Ralts until I got one with +Def (Impish), so removing duplicates I now have 14 natures I can Synchronize.

I’ve also been growing and mutating berries throughout the game, and have gotten Petaya, Ganlon, Apicot, and as of Route 14, Salac Berries (I needed the Roseli Berry to mutate Salac). A lot of the berries needed for the mutations have been gotten by using Air Cutter from a Reflection Cave Woobat on background trees. As far as I can tell, I can’t get the remaining Liechi Berry until I can access the snowy routes and find blue berry trees for a Yache Berry. The remaining in-game obtainable berries are Maranga and Kee. Maranga is currently being grown as a mutation with my Petaya and Salac Berries, and I’ll need to wait for Liechi Berry before I can mutate Kee Berries with Liechi+Ganlon. Mainly pointing all this out since I’ll be using a Salac Berry in the upcoming Valerie fight, which might throw a few people off since those berries aren’t usually thought of things you get during the maingame, at least to me.

Lastly, I got a Sticky Barb from a wild Ferroseed in Reflection Cave. Normally, this is a 5% chance, but with Compound Eyes, it shoots up to 20%, so it’s not that tedious to get, even if Ferroseed is annoying to encounter.


For the first time since Grant, no trainers need to be fought in this gym, which is nice. Valerie specializes in the newly-debuted Fairy type, which only have two weaknesses, Steel and Poison. I don’t really have any good options for Steel types at this point (Lv 23 Ferroseeds are the best I’ve got, and that’s pretty underleveled), but Route 14 has 3 new Poison types for me to use. But Valerie is certainly prepared for Poison types, as she leads with the Steel type Mawile, and has a Mr. Mime that outspeeds and OHKOs them with Psychic. Mr. Mime is particularly dangerous in general, since it has 2 strong STABs that I can only resist with very underleveled Steel types, and dual screens, which screw over almost any raw damage approach if they’re set up. Her Sylveon is a Fairy type through and through, only offering mediocre Normal moves as “coverage”, but it shouldn’t be underestimated since it has fantastic stats.

Valerie’s team: Mawile Lv 38/Mr. Mime Lv 39/Sylveon Lv 42

My team:

Tentacool Lv 27 @ Sticky Barb
Impish/Clear Body
Stats: 63 HP/27 Atk/33 Def/30 SpA/63 SpD/44 Spd
IVs: 17 - 19/2 - 5/23 - 26/8 - 11/15 - 18/5 - 8
~Toxic Spikes

Carvanha Lv 25 @ Eviolite
Impish/Rough Skin
Stats: 64 HP/50 Atk/23 Def/36 SpA/21 SpD/39 Spd
IVs: 26 - 29/0 - 3/24 - 27/10 - 17/24 - 27/6 - 9

Haunter Lv 31 @ Salac Berry (Enters battle at 54 HP)
Stats: 69 HP/39 Atk/36 Def/88 SpA/45 SpD/70 Spd
IVs: 1 - 3/10 - 12/23 - 29/12 - 15/20 - 22/20 - 22

Mawile almost KOs Tentacool with Crunch (even with the +Def nature and high HP/Def IVs, I still only have a 75% chance to survive this), who passes its Sticky Barb to Mawile and sets up Toxic Spikes, which will be incredibly important for poison damage and boosting Venoshock. Since I imagine it’s better known as the butt of a homoerotic joke in DP than for what it actually does, Sticky Barb causes the holder to lose 1/8th of their health every turn. But if that holder is attacked by a contact move, then the Sticky Barb is sent to the attacker, provided they have an empty item slot. Anyways, Mawile loses 1/8th health at the end of the turn, and Tentacool Protects the next turn to repeat that damage.

After that, I switch to Carvanha, who takes nearly half of its health on the switch-in from Crunch. Carvanha also needs a +Def nature and high IVs to take that little damage from Crunch, since despite the Dark resistance and Eviolite it has a laughable base 20 defense. Mawile takes 2/8th in recoil this turn from Carvanha’s Rough Skin and Sticky Barb. Carvanha Protects next turn so Mawile loses another 1/8th to Sticky Barb. In total, it’s lost 5/8ths health by now. While you may think Mawile could finish Carvanha off with a Fairy move, it actually doesn’t have one, or for that matter, any non-Dark move. So Carvanha survives a second Crunch and retaliates with Surf, which combined with Rough Skin and Sticky Barb at the end of the turn finishes off the remaining 3/8ths of Mawile’s health. Mr. Mime comes out next, and is poisoned by Toxic Spikes.

While there are a number of different ways to defeat Mawile while getting Toxic Spikes up, I chose Carvanha specifically because it was Dark type. As such, I can be assured that Mr. Mime will use not use Psychic as I switch-in to Haunter. I’m also near certain it won’t use a screen since it should prioritize going for the KO on Carvanha instead. So Mr. Mime uses Dazzling Gleam as I switch, and I have Haunter at a lower HP before entering this fight so this knocks me under 25%, causing my Salac Berry to activate. Haunter is now faster than Mr. Mime, and with the turn of poison damage from switching, can KO it with a powered-up Venoshock. Last out is Sylveon, who only loses about half of its health from Venoshock, so I need to stall for poison damage. Haunter Protects, then I use my still-alive Carvanha and Tentacool as death fodder to get another two turns of poison damage. Once Haunter’s back out it Protects a final time, and Sylveon is now at half-health. Despite losing the speed boost from Salac Berry, Haunter is naturally fast enough to outspeed Sylveon and finishes it off with Venoshock.
Update 7: The Psychic Badge

Up to Anistar City:

There’s another Team Flare gauntlet in the Poke Ball Factory north of Laverre City. Well, sort of. You can actually skip most of these trainers by navigating the conveyor belts the right way. The only two necessary battles are in the boss’ room. The first of which is a grunt with Scraggy and Houndoom. Unlike before, I now have a decent Fighting resist that isn’t weak to Dark in Skorupi, who beats Scraggy with X-Scissor. Scraggy actually helped me out a lot by using Scary Face, weakening its own Payback. Houndoom goes down to my Graveler. The other battle is a double battle with Serena against Celosia and Bryony, who have Manectric and Liepard. I lead with Skorupi and focus my efforts on KOing Liepard with X-Scissor. Serena’s Meowstic quickly faints and is replaced with the much more useful Chesnaught, who helps greatly in handling Manectric once Liepard faints.

Next up is another small skirmish of two battles with Team Flare in Frost Cavern. First up is a grunt with Golbat and Manectric, which are easy fodder for the newly available Piloswine. Mable is next, but she’s not much of an issue with only Houndoom (albeit a very high-leveled one). With Eviolite, Piloswine is able to take two Fire Fangs and 2HKO back with Dig.

Once I’m done with Frost Cavern, I can go down Route 17 into Anistar City. There’s actually a very large selection of decently leveled Pokemon at this point- there’s Route 16, Lost Hotel, Frost Cavern, Route 17, Pokemon available from Surfing in those areas, and the Super Rod (though there’s actually only 1 unique NFE Pokemon from this). Which is much appreciated, because I’m going to be stalled here for a while!

Serena (Anistar City):

Serena now adds an eeveelution to her team, which in my case is Vaporeon. It's decently threatening, but is slow and reasonably easy to stall with any Water-type and Toxic. The rest of her team is mostly the same compared to last time, which doesn’t bode well for her since my options are much better now.

Serena’s team: Meowstic Lv 44/Absol Lv 44/Vaporeon Lv 44/Chesnaught Lv 46

My team:

Sneasel Lv 40 @ Amulet Coin
Jolly/Inner Focus
Stats: 94 HP/82 Atk/51 Def/36 SpA/74 SpD/108 Spd
IVs: 0 - 2/3 - 4/5 - 7/18 - 22/23 - 24/5 - 7
~Swords Dance
~Aerial Ace

Lombre Lv 35 @ Leftovers
Careful/Rain Dish
Stats: 88 HP/44 Atk/44 Def/45 SpA/68 SpD/43 Spd
IVs: 3 - 5/12 - 14/12 - 14/9 - 14/23 - 25/9 - 11
~Zen Headbutt

Pawniard Lv 37 @ Eviolite
Hardy/Inner Focus
Stats: 84 HP/75 Atk/58 Def/41 SpA/34 SpD/56 Spd
IVs: 10 - 12/20 - 21/4 - 5/18 - 19/0 - 1/18 - 20
~Low Sweep

Yep, for the first time, I don’t even need to match the number of Pokemon for a boss fight, I can do it with one less. Meowstic tries to start the battle with its usual Fake Out shtick, but Sneasel’s Inner Focus prevents that and gets off an easy Swords Dance. Sneasel sets up another Swords Dance the following turn, easily surviving Meowstic’s Disarming Voice, which is really such a pathetic coverage move at this point. At +4, Sneasel OHKOs Meowstic with Thief. Chesnaught comes out next, but gets promptly OHKOd by Aerial Ace. However, Sneasel can’t complete its sweep because Vaporeon is too bulky and only takes ~50% from Thief then KOs with Muddy Water.

Lombre comes out and Toxic stalls Vaporeon. Aurora Beam only 3HKOs, so it can’t really do much about it. Zen Headbutt doesn’t do much, but Toxic does most of the work anyways. Absol comes out last and picks off Lombre.

Pawniard resists all of Absol’s moves, and 3HKOs back with Low Sweep. Low Sweep also negates Absol’s speed advantage, so even with Super Luck it’s hard-pressed to muscle through Pawniard.

Olympia and the Anistar Gym:

The only mandatory trainer in the Anistar Gym has an Exeggutor. Pawniard resists its STABs, though in spite of that still only barely avoids a 2HKO from Wood Hammer even with Eviolite. Fortunately, Pawniard is faster and 3HKOs with Assurance.

Olympia has a team of fully-evolved Pokemon, so in theory this should be where NFE-only really starts to show (Valerie was the first gym leader to claim this, but pointing it out felt disingenuous when my Haunter had a higher BST than her Mawile). Despite that, Olympia is the easiest gym leader up to this point, besides Korrina if I would have used Ghost types. Her team may not be as awful against Dark types as Korrina’s against Ghosts, but it still doesn’t have a good answer for them.

Olympia’s team: Sigilyph Lv 44/Slowking Lv 45/Meowstic Lv 48

My team:

Sneasel Lv 40 @ Eviolite
Jolly/Keen Eye
Stats: 102 HP/87 Atk/59 Def/32 SpA/72 SpD/106 Spd
IVs: 20 - 22/15 - 17/25 - 27/8 - 9/18 - 19/0 - 2
~Swords Dance

That’s right, only one Pokemon. The AI in general is very screen-happy when it can’t score a KO, but Sneasel can effortlessly stop that threat by Taunting Sigilyph. After that, I set up two Swords Dances as Eviolite prevents Air Slash from 2HKOing me. Thief then OHKOs both Sigilyph and Slowking. I Protect her Meowstic’s Fake Out when it comes in, and even though it’s faster it can’t finish off my remaining ~20% HP with Shadow Ball, and meets the same fate as the rest of her team.

…ok, that’s a really anticlimactic way to end an update, so even if I’ve lost the chance to actually do this, I’m going to theorymon this fight without Dark types.

Magneton Lv 38 @ Magnet
Modest/doesn’t matter
~Thunder Wave

Pumpkaboo (Large) Lv 36 @ doesn’t matter
Careful/doesn’t matter
~Leech Seed

Phantump Lv 35 @ Spell Tag
Adamant/doesn’t matter
~Leech Seed
~Shadow Claw

Magneton can either OHKO Sigilyph with Thunderbolt, or 2HKO it if it sets up Light Screen, and easily survives either of its STABs due to Steel-typing. Slowking should come out next.

Pumpkaboo can outspeed Slowking and survive Psychic, so I can switch to one, and then suicide Leech Seed Slowking. Leech Seed is the best move ever, so it’s a huge shame that Pumpkaboo and Phantump are the last Pokemon in the game that have access to it. I can then send Magneton back in, who alternates Substitute and Protect to get back up to full health due to the large HP disparity between it and Slowking, and then finish Slowking off with Thunderbolt. This will also stall out any screen Sigilyph may have set up. Meowstic comes out last, and Magneton only needs to use Thunder Wave, anything else afterwards is superfluous. Meowstic may set up Calm Minds, but they won’t matter.

Last out would be Phantump. I can stall with Substitute, trying to get a free sub up while Meowstic is fully paralyzed. This may seem unreliable, but I would have enough HP to set up 4 subs (as long as Phantump’s HP isn’t divisible by 4), and also a 5th chance to go for broke and just Leech Seed it once my HP is too low. The odds of Meowstic being FP’d on at least one of those turns is ~76.3%, which are pretty good odds. If I can get a Leech Seed off without Meowstic attacking me, I win. Even in the worst case scenario where I get off Leech Seed with 1/2/3 HP remaining, the healing from that turn+Protect after gives me enough to sub and start the same process as earlier. While I wouldn’t have enough Sub/Protect PP to stall Meowstic through Hyper Potions, I can use Shadow Claw once Meowstic’s taken 5 turns of Leech Seed damage and bypass healing items.
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Update 8: Team Flare's Ultimate Plan

Team Flare Café:

After I beat the Anistar Gym, Lysandre abruptly decides to end the world. Alright then. This leads to two large gauntlets versus Team Flare, the first of which is in their Café in Lumiose City. Before I get to the trainers, there’s a fight against Lysandre after you beat the waiters guarding the secret entrance. This fight has absolutely nothing notable over the two later fights, so I’m not going to cover it. I really don’t understand why so many Lysandre fights are clustered together in the first place. Personally, I would’ve much rather just had the final fight.

Onto the trainers. The team I brought was Sneasel, Bergmite, Haunter, Piloswine, and Poliwhirl. As was the case with the Power Plant, it’s more efficient for me to just talk about individual Pokemon rather than trainers, since so many are repeated.
-Scrafty: Haunter uses Substitute until Scrafty uses Scary Face instead of Crunch, which never took more than 2 subs. Once I have a sub up, I use Curse and stall with Protect and Substitute as much as I can, using Shadow Ball if I get another free sub. Curse does a ton of damage every turn (1/4), so it doesn’t take long. While Haunter never fainted before Scrafty did, I taught the rest of my team Protect as a back-up.
-Liepard: Liepard honestly just sucks, and I could probably beat it 1v1 with anything on my team besides Haunter. Still, I opted to go for a good match-up with X-Scissor Sneasel.
-Swalot: Haunter Cursed and Shadow Balled these to death. Curse prevents Stockpile+Swallow spam from getting obnoxious, and as far as I can tell there’s no risk involved in doing so because none of the Swalots ever touched Haunter.
-Mightyena: Fairly similar to Liepard, so I used Sneasel again to deal with them. I was under the impression it had some annoyances like Swagger and Roar, but I never saw them.
-Druddigon: I hoped Bergmite would just OHKO this with Avalanche, but it barely fell short even with Never-Melt Ice, so I had to bring in Haunter to finish Druddigon off.
-Houndoom: Despite the super-effective STAB, Fire Fang doesn’t do that much to Piloswine, who OHKOs with Dig. The only potentially dangerous one was Mable’s who actually has a good Fire move in Flamethrower. Fortunately, Piloswine is very tanky and barely survived with Eviolite.
-Toxicroak: Unless I attacked directly and provoked Sucker Punch, I don’t think these could hurt me. So I just used Curse and stalled with Substitute and Protect, plus Shadow Ball when safely behind a sub.
-Weavile: Bergmite 2HKOd with Macho Brace Gyro Ball. Weavile only used Quick Attack versus it, which surprised me since Weavile is only used by Mable, who shouldn’t have the usual stupid trainer AI. But the alternative is that her Weavile has nothing better to hit Bergmite with, i.e. it has no Dark moves. So idk!
-Manectric: Easily handled by Piloswine.
-Golbat: Bergmite OHKOd these with Avalanche, and also had Own Tempo to prevent Confuse Ray.

There’s also Crobat and Malamar, but only Xerosic uses them, so I’ll just summarize that battle. I brought out Bergmite for Crobat, but Avalanche failed to OHKO while Air Slash 2HKOd me. Piloswine finished it off. When Malamar came out, I swapped to Haunter to prevent it from getting a Contrary boost from Superpower, then Shadow Balled it before I died. Sneasel finished it with X-Scissor.

Lysandre (Team Flare’s Secret HQ):

While this fight is overall easier than the final one and not that different, it has two quirks that make discussing it worthwhile. In the final fight, Gyarados is set to come out last (as all Mega Pokemon in the series so far do), but not in this fight, which changes the order of the Pokemon he sends out. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s important to not be a sitting duck once the next Pokemon comes in. As such, even if I can obviously defeat the same Pokemon in two different fights with the same Pokemon, if the Pokemon sent out after is different, I may not want to use the same initial Pokemon in both fights so I don’t end up a sitting duck. The other quirk is that his Mienshao has odd HP in this battle, the significance of which will be made clear.

Lysandre has a powerful team, with nothing under a 500 BST, and also isn’t monotyped. As a quick tangent, I really dislike how monotype teams, a generally inferior team type, are the basis of the vast majority of boss teams in Pokemon. The Gamecube games bucked this silly trend, and I really like that about them. Anyways, Lysandre’s team is incredibly difficult to wall. They have diverse coverage, so I’m usually forced to take neutral hits from them, and their attack stats far outweigh my defenses. As a result, I’m struggling to avoid OHKOs at best. I’m going to have to launch an equally effective counter-offense if I want a chance in this fight.

Lysandre’s team: Mienshao Lv 47/Honchkrow Lv 47/Pyroar Lv 49/Gyarados Lv 51

My team:

Magneton Lv 38 @ Magnet
Stats: 97 HP/55 Atk/83 Def/111 SpA/60 SpD/62 Spd
IVs: 29 - 31/30 - 31/16 - 17/13 - 15/5 - 7/10 - 12
~Thunder Wave
~Metal Sound

Haunter Lv 39 @ Light Ball
Stats: 91 HP/46 Atk/40 Def/97 SpA/48 SpD/99 Spd
IVs: 18 - 20/6 - 7/0 - 2/6 - 8/16 - 18/28 - 30
~Sucker Punch

Seadra Lv 35 @ Eviolite
Rash/Poison Point
Stats: 84 HP/57 Atk/79 Def/89 SpA/32 SpD/69 Spd
IVs: 2 - 4/19 - 21/22 - 24/28 - 29/0 - 1/13 - 15

Bergmite Lv 39 @ Never-Melt Ice
Impish/Own Tempo
Stats: 100 HP/58 Atk/90 Def/28 SpA/44 SpD/28 Spd
IVs: 21 - 23/0 - 0/28 - 29/6 - 7/30 - 31/3 - 5

Mienshao has a very easy exploit- HJK gives the user 50% recoil if it fails for whatever reason. I abuse this first by Protecting with Magneton, then switching to Haunter, who’s immune to HJK. Mienshao has an odd number of HP, and division in Pokemon rounds down, so it still has 1 HP even after taking “50%” twice. But this isn’t an issue, as Haunter just finishes it off with Sucker Punch. Gyarados comes in next, and Haunter can just barely outspeed it and Fling a Light Ball at it, which paralyzes.

Magneton comes in after, and easily KOs Gyarados with a Magnet-boosted Thunderbolt. Lysandre sends out Pyroar, who fails to OHKO Magneton with Fire Blast due to Sturdy. Magneton nerfs Pyroar’s immense speed with Thunder Wave, then fires off a final Metal Sound to soften it up.

With Magneton’s help, Seadra has no trouble outspeeding and OHKOing Pyroar with Surf. Honchkrow comes in, and I use Protect to ensure I don’t die to a Retaliate crit. With that threat out of the way, Honchkrow can’t OHKO Seadra even with a crit due to Eviolite. So Seadra is able to survive Night Slash and get off a Surf before fainting.

Bergmite’s able to avoid a Night Slash crit KO even without Eviolite, and finishes off Honchkrow with a boosted Avalanche.

Team Flare’s Secret HQ:

While there aren’t any new Pokemon here I haven’t discussed earlier, there are 3 double battles with Serena which merit some discussion due to doubles being fundamentally different than singles. The first is against a Liepard and Toxicroak, which might be difficult since Liepard wrecks my default Toxicroak answer of Haunter, but Serena’s Meowstic immediately takes care of it. I used Sneasel to defeat the remaining Liepard as I did in singles. The next is against Mightyena and Manectric, which also isn’t that difficult since neither can do much to Piloswine.

The last battle is a bit troublesome though, against Houndoom and Scrafty. This is a similar situation to the first battle, where my default Scrafty answer in Haunter gets wrecked by Houndoom. And unlike then, Meowstic can’t eliminate anything in this battle quickly. This battle was the sole reason I had Poliwhirl. I Protected on the first turn as Meowstic Disarming Voiced. Both opponents went for Poliwhirl, so that worked out well. The next turn I took a Foul Play from Houndoom, then used Dig. This worked out wonderfully, as Scrafty tried to HJK Poliwhirl and KOd itself since the Disarming Voice from this and last turn weakened it enough. Once I was in the 2v1 situation, this battle was pretty easy.

Lysandre’s Last Stand and Xerneas:

Xerneas needs to be caught before facing Lysandre. Due to its high catch rate (the same as Onix which I caught a long time ago), this isn’t really an issue. But it is worth noting that unless I enter with a full team, Xerneas forces itself into my team as the lead. Obviously, I don’t want this, so I enter with a full team to keep Xerneas out, though I still only use 4 of them versus Lysandre.

The only difference between Lysandre’s current and previous teams is that this one is 2 levels higher (not irrelevant, but not a huge deal), Gyarados comes out last, and Gyarados now mega-evolves. Once mega-evolved, Gyarados loses its 4x weakness, and gains a large boost in attack and both defenses. This makes it go from being OHKOd by Magneton’s Thunderbolt, to only scratching a 2HKO rarely with a high IV Modest Magneton. And that’s my strongest direct option against it by a good margin. It also has Mold Breaker, which ignores Sturdy, which is virtually my only way to survive versus it. That’s no exaggeration- even if I attached Eviolite, it can OHKO every single Pokemon available except a large/super Pumpkaboo with +Def nature and near max HP/Def IVs. Needless to say, Mega Gyarados is a juggernaut.

Lysandre’s team: Mienshao Lv 49/Honchkrow Lv 49/Pyroar Lv 51/Mega Gyarados Lv 53

My team:

Magneton Lv 38 @ Chesto Berry
Stats: 89 HP/56 Atk/87 Def/97 SpA/58 SpD/65 Spd
IVs: 8 - 10/15 - 16/26 - 28/3 - 4/0 - 2/18 - 20
~Thunder Wave
~Metal Sound

Seadra Lv 35 @ Eviolite
Stats: 86 HP/46 Atk/71 Def/89 SpA/36 SpD/72 Spd
IVs: 8 - 9/5 - 7/0 - 1/28 - 29/0 - 1/22 - 24

Pawniard Lv 37 @ Sitrus Berry
Stats: 85 HP/70 Atk/67 Def/34 SpA/38 SpD/59 Spd
IVs: 13 - 15/28 - 29/28 - 30/0 - 1/2 - 3/26 - 28
~Thunder Wave
~Low Sweep

Pumpkaboo (Large) Lv 36 @ Wide Lens
Stats: 91 HP/57 Atk/62 Def/37 SpA/41 SpD/38 Spd
IVs: 17 - 19/0 - 1/19 - 21/1 - 3/4 - 6/0 - 2
~Leech Seed

I lead with Magneton again. Mienshao has even HP, so it will kill itself after 2 HJK fails, instead of 3 like last time. I start off with Protect to get the first HJK fail, then use Chesto Rest after surviving HJK with Sturdy. This brings me back up to full HP as if nothing ever happened, and refreshes Protect’s staleness so I can use it next turn to have Mienshao kill itself. Pyroar comes out again, and things play out exactly as last time, with Magneton getting off Thunder Wave and Metal Sound.

Seadra comes out and again OHKOs Pyroar with Surf, Protects Honchkrow’s Retaliate, and still survives anything Honchkrow throws at it. But this time, I use Toxic instead of Surf. Since I’ll be whittling Honchkrow’s HP down entirely with Toxic, I’ll point out that it takes 6 turns to KO something. Seadra uses Protect the next turn, then faints the turn after that. So far, Honchkrow has taken 3 turns of Toxic damage.

Pawniard comes in to continue stalling, starting with its own Protect. Pawniard actually resists Honchkrow’s entire moveset, so it survives anything Honchkrow throws at it. However, I need >25% HP to use Substitute, and a crit Night Slash can do over 75%, preventing me from doing that. So the Sitrus Berry ensures Pawniard has enough HP. Honchkrow’s now taken 5 turns of Toxic, so the Protect on the next turn causes it to faint with Pawniard’s sub intact. The dreaded Mega Gyarados comes out to close the battle, but Pawniard’s Substitute takes Mega Gyarados’ Earthquake and allows Pawniard to Thunder Wave it.

It seems the AI loves the words “super-effective” to death, as while Gyarados can KO Pawniard with any of its moves at this point, it almost always uses EQ anyways. I seize the opportunity to get a relatively free switch to Pumpkaboo. Mind you, even that resisted EQ does ~70%. But Pumpkaboo is alive versus a paralyzed Gyarados, so it’s able to get off Leech Seed before Gyarados finishes it off. Pawniard comes back in and Protects, gaining enough HP from Leech Seed to use Substitute again, which it uses the following turn. And that turn it gets enough HP to use Substitute again, and so on and so forth. Low Sweep was just there for when Gyarados was fully paralyzed and I got a free sub. The PP of Substitute and Protect is the only limitation of this stalling, but due to Lysandre’s lack of healing items, Pawniard has plenty to watch Gyarados wither away to Leech Seed.
Update 9: The Iceberg Badge

Sycamore (Couriway Town):

I’m not sure if I actually need to win this fight to progress, but I do so anyways, since like the Lumiose fight it’s not that difficult.

He leads with Venusaur which only has Grass moves to attack with. There are surprisingly few recent Grass resists available, but fortunately one of those is Noibat, who 4x resists. Despite that, Noibat’s stats are horrendous, so I need to use Roost and Eviolite to keep up with Petal Dance, which deals roughly a third of Noibat’s health. I use my free turns on Screech, which lets Fly actually do proper damage, and increases the damage Venusaur does to itself once it’s confused from Petal Dance. It takes a while, but Noibat eventually powers through a defense-lowered Venusaur with Fly.

Blastoise tries to finish off Noibat with Skull Bash, and I get off Super Fang on the charge turn. Pumpkaboo takes a lot of damage from Aqua Tail, but with Leech Seed healing and Leftovers has plenty of health to finish off Blastoise next turn with Grass Knot and Leech Seed damage. Last is Charizard, who is easily OHKOd by Graveler’s Rock Tomb.

Rival Gauntlet:

“We’re going to battle, silly! We ARE Pokemon trainers, after all!” Shauna proclaims as I pass through Route 19. Her reminder that she’s a Pokemon trainer is more useful that she likely realizes- I haven’t actually fought her since the very beginning of the game. Tierno and Trevor come afterwards to complete the irrelevant Pokemon trainer reunion. Individually, they’re all fairly easy due to low levels- all lower than Lysandre, never mind that recent Pokemon are ~7 levels higher than what I had then. But, I need to have the same Pokemon set for all 3, and there’s also no healing between Shauna and Tierno. So they do provide a moderate challenge as a group, at least.

Shauna’s team: Delcatty Lv 49/Goodra Lv 49/Delphox Lv 51
Tierno’s team: Talonflame Lv 48/Roserade Lv 49/Crawdaunt Lv 52
Trevor’s team: Raichu Lv 49/Aerodactyl Lv 49/Florges Lv 51

My team:

Lairon Lv 46 @ Leftovers
Stats: 117 HP/102 Atk/138 Def/56 SpA/62 SpD/54 Spd
IVs: 13 - 14/12 - 13/10 - 11/27 - 28/24 - 26/27 - 28
~Rock Tomb

Sliggoo Lv 48 @ Eviolite
Relaxed/Sap Sipper
Stats: 130 HP/83 Atk/69 Def/89 SpA/125 SpD/67 Spd
IVs: 14 - 16/13 - 14/15 - 16/9 - 11/24 - 26/26 - 27
~Muddy Water
~Dragon Pulse

Gurdurr Lv 46 @ Black Belt (Poisoned)
Stats: 141 HP/112 Atk/96 Def/47 SpA/60 SpD/50 Spd
IVs: 15 - 16/23 - 24/28 - 29/12 - 13/20 - 21/18 - 19
~Brick Break

Haunter Lv 47 @ Poison Barb
Stats: 102 HP/49 Atk/57 Def/129 SpA/68 SpD/103 Spd
IVs: 6 - 7/7 - 8/21 - 22/11 - 12/25 - 26/19 - 20
~Sludge Bomb

Shauna’s triumphant return to battling gets off to a flat start as she sends out Delcatty, a weaker Pokemon than all of my NFE team. Needless to say, it’s not difficult to deal with- with Protect and Leftovers, it nets virtually no damage on Lairon. Charm still is annoying, though, so I use Toxic to deal with Delcatty rather than direct damage.

In very stark contrast to her lead, Shauna’s next Pokemon is Goodra. This is the only Pokemon throughout these battles that is very dangerous even by itself. Besides the 600 BST, it also covers both Dragon resists with Sludge Wave and Earthquake. Fortunately, its desire to Earthquake Lairon provides a free switch to Haunter. Haunter and Goodra exchange blows with Toxic and Dragon Pulse respectively, Haunter barely surviving the hit it takes. Haunter can’t possibly hope to pierce Goodra’s 150 base special defense, so indirect damage is the way to go. After Protecting once for a bit of Toxic stall, Haunter gets off Curse before Goodra finishes it.

By now Goodra’s taken 10/16ths of its health from indirect damage, and with the Toxic counter at 4 and Curse active, it’s a Protect from Sliggoo away from fainting, proving who’s the best part of that line. Last out is Delphox, who is the second most dangerous Pokemon here after Goodra. There’s actually a trivial solution for Delphox itself- it can’t hurt Flash Fire Houndour. But those are only level ~20 and won’t have any utility in the next two battles. Sliggoo and its high special defense still do an admirable job of dealing with Delphox. Toxic is again the best source of damage, which I start with as Delphox Calm Minds. Since Sliggoo can survive two +1 Psychics with Eviolite, it defeats Delphox by alternating Protect and Muddy Water as Toxic builds up.

Now for Tierno. He leads with Talonflame, but without a Fire move, it’s helpless against Lairon, who OHKOs it with Rock Tomb. It actually uses Swords Dance instead of attacking, so with Leftovers Lairon is back up to full health. He sends out Crawdaunt, and contrary to my expectations Lairon actually gets to attack it due to Sturdy. After Rock Tomb, Lairon is faster and gets off another Rock Tomb before fainting.

Gurdurr is pre-poisoned so that Guts is immediately active. This is a very potent set-up that’s easy to accomplish in-game. That being said, I didn’t actually expect Crawdaunt to be weakened for Gurdurr, so setting up Guts proves to be entirely unnecessary as Crawdaunt was only at half health.

Last up is Roserade. Because its only move is Petal Dance, I can easily switch to Sliggoo who negates it with Sap Sipper. From there, Sliggoo slowly Dragon Pulses Roserade to death as it dances and accomplishes nothing. A fitting avatar for Tierno.

Before starting the battle, Trevor gives me a much-needed heal. Because of this, as well as no battle after to conserve Pokemon for, he’s pretty easy. He leads with Raichu, and I immediately switch to Sliggoo who takes a pittance from Thunderbolt. Slam does a bit more, but Toxic and Dragon Pulse outdamage it. He then sends in Florges, who immediately KOs Sliggoo with Moonblast.

Healed up, Haunter returns with a more offensive goal. Since Haunter is faster, 2HKOs with Sludge Bomb, and isn’t OHKOd by Moonblast, it’s an easy win. Ending this gauntlet is Aerodactyl, who is not much of an issue, though it picks off Haunter with Crunch.

Lairon 2HKOs Aerodactyl with Rock Tomb, whose best option is a mediocre Crunch. With 140 base defense, Lairon’s got a strong advantage and finishes the rival gauntlet.

Wulfric and the Snowbelle Gym:

Final gym time! All four trainers need to be fought, so I bring a duo of Gothorita and a poisoned Gurdurr. The basic strategy was Gothorita used Trick Room, then Gurdurr murdered (one of MS Word’s spelling corrections for Gurdurr is aptly “murder”, in fact) everything. One thing I thought would be an exception would be Cloyster, due to its massive defense. So I led with Gurdurr directly to deal with that trainer’s Sneasel lead, then expected Gothorita would Grass Knot Cloyster’s significantly weaker special defense. But Cloyster just set up Spikes, so Gurdurr 3HKOd it without any issues. On the flip side, the trainer with Delibird and Mamoswine ended up being soloed by Gothorita, since Delibird is a joke and Mamoswine wasted a turn on Mist while getting 2HKOd by Grass Knot. My planned strategy worked versus the other two trainers, but admittedly I had to reset a few times versus the Cryogonal lead- Confuse Ray on a fast Pokemon is miserable when luck’s not with you.

“I could be your most challenging opponent yet or I could be a total pushover.” Wulfric tells me this right before I fight him, and it’s a surprisingly humble statement. And yet, Wulfric still gives himself far too much credit by even entertaining the notion that he could be my most challenging opponent. Wulfric is a joke. Ice is a type infamous for having a lot of weaknesses, and Wulfric does almost nothing to deal with them. It’s not like his Pokemon don’t have options- Abomasnow learns Focus Blast and Earthquake, Cryogonal learns Freeze-Dry, and Avalugg learns Earthquake too. He’s a very disappointing end to the gym leader circuit.

Wulfric’s team: Abomasnow Lv 56/Cryogonal Lv 55/Avalugg Lv 59

My team:

Gothorita Lv 50 @ Berry Juice
Stats: 128 HP/58 Atk/86 Def/82 SpA/92 SpD/63 Spd
IVs: 16 - 17/6 - 7/22 - 23/4 - 5/4 - 5/20 - 23
~Trick Room

Gurdurr Lv 45 @ Black Belt (Poisoned)
Stats: 136 HP/122 Atk/93 Def/36 SpA/51 SpD/49 Spd
IVs: 10 - 12/26 - 27/26 - 27/0 - 2/3 - 4/18 - 19
~Brick Break
~Hammer Arm

Weepinbell Lv 48 @ Miracle Seed
Stats: 121 HP/82 Atk/65 Def/103 SpA/59 SpD/67 Spd
IVs: 2 - 3/2 - 3/25 - 27/16 - 17/23 - 24/20 - 21
~Grass Knot

Unsurprisingly, a similar strategy to what I used on the gym trainers will work for Wulfric. Gothorita sets up Trick Room and Tickle to weaken Abomasnow’s defense. I have the Berry Juice to ensure Gothorita doesn’t faint to Ice Beam (yes, Ice Beam, not Blizzard)+hail+Ice Shard, while still fainting in 2 hits so Gurdurr can have more Trick Room turns. Though in retrospect even two turns of TR would be enough.

Gurdurr comes out poisoned again, this time poised to actually show off Guts. After the Tickle, Brick Break OHKOs Abomasnow. Cryogonal meets a similar fate and then some- it would have taken ~250%. Avalugg comes out last, but its ungodly physical bulk means it only takes half from even Hammer Arm, and finishes Gurdurr off with Avalanche.

Avalugg is incredibly slow and has bad special defense, so at half health, it’s easy pickings for any strong special attack. I chose Weepinbell, whose 120 BP Grass Knot finishes Avalugg off.

And with that, the Iceberg Badge, and more importantly, all the badges of Kalos are now mine. Onto Victory Road!
Update 10: Victory Road

It’s time for Victory Road, the recurring final dungeon of the Pokemon series. The trainers here use versatile, high-leveled teams, and teach their Pokemon TMs to improve their coverage. Despite that, they’re easy if I’m willing to throw my whole team against their maximum 3 Pokemon, so I’m going to strictly enforce my “matching number of Pokemon” soft rule here. I haven’t really made any conscious effort to enforce it for normal trainers, though it’s rarely been an issue anyways. But I’ll give Victory Road a fair shake. A quick overview of my team:

Sliggoo Lv 48
Stats: 129 HP/75 Atk/63 Def/100 SpA/125 SpD/72 Spd
IVs: 12 - 13/15 - 16/15 - 16/14 - 15/24 - 26/20 - 21

Lombre Lv 50
Sassy/Rain Dish
Stats: 128 HP/68 Atk/59 Def/74 SpA/99 SpD/54 Spd
IVs: 16 - 17/26 - 27/8 - 9/18 - 19/30 - 31/10 - 13

Gurdurr Lv 46 (Poisoned)
Stats: 140 HP/116 Atk/91 Def/48 SpA/57 SpD/49 Spd
IVs: 13 - 14/10 - 11/17 - 19/27 - 28/14 - 15/16 - 17

Lairon Lv 46
Stats: 124 HP/105 Atk/134 Def/51 SpA/56 SpD/51 Spd
IVs: 28 - 29/18 - 19/1 - 2/14 - 15/11 - 13/20 - 22

Haunter Lv 47
Stats: 104 HP/50 Atk/52 Def/122 SpA/61 SpD/108 Spd
IVs: 10 - 12/9 - 10/10 - 12/19 - 21/10 - 11/10 - 12

Gothorita Lv 50
Stats: 133 HP/59 Atk/72 Def/85 SpA/105 SpD/64 Spd
IVs: 26 - 27/18 - 19/10 - 13/10 - 11/12 - 13/8 - 9

Moves and items omitted since those will vary from fight to fight, but I will note that Lombre and Lairon have Surf and Strength respectively so I can progress through the dungeon.

The first fight isn’t even in Victory Road, but rather an Ace Trainer guarding the entrance. He leads with Carbink, who is hopeless against Lairon’s Iron Head. But Kingdra afterwards is a bit trickier. It finishes off Lairon, and I send in Gothorita. Gothorita survives Dragon Pulse, and sets up Trick Room and uses Fake Tears the turn after before it faints. With a Draco Plate, Sliggoo OHKOs Kingdra with its own Dragon Pulse. Raichu is last, and is as ineffective against Sliggoo as Trevor’s was.

Now I’m in Victory Road proper, and have access to the wild Pokemon inside it. However, I’m going to hold off on catching anything here until the Elite 4. Why? Well, for whatever reason, there is a HUGE level spike here. The Pokemon are about 7 levels higher than those on Route 21, peaking at level 59. And while I’m certainly going to need those levels for the Elite 4 (at least if I want any hope of preserving all my soft restrictions), I don’t need them for Victory Road. So in the spirit of this run being a challenge, let’s make Victory Road actually be one.

Moving on, I’m quickly greeted by another trainer, but she’s pretty underwhelming. She only has Weavile, who gets wrecked by Gurdurr, though it does come surprisingly close to OHKOing with Ice Punch.

Serena (Victory Road):

For the final maingame fight against Serena, she adds a 5th Pokemon to her team, Altaria, tipping her team further into mediocrity. Then again, I have teams of NFE Pokemon, so who am I to talk? While I’m near certain I could have just Confided Meowstic a bit and set up a Swords Dance sweep with Scyther, I decided against this because a) it’s boring and b) Scyther and its 500 BST kind of defeats the point of NFE-only, even if it technically counts. Even with that restriction, I still have a 1v1 answer for every Pokemon on her team, and they’re almost all simple type match-ups, so she’s still fairly easy. At this point Serena has given up on actually defeating you in the canon, so I guess it’s only fitting.

Serena’s team: Meowstic Lv 57/Altaria Lv 58/Vaporeon Lv 57/Absol Lv 59/Chesnaught Lv 61

My team:

Sliggoo Lv 48 @ Eviolite
~Dragon Pulse

Lombre Lv 50 @ Leftovers
~Energy Ball

Gurdurr Lv 46 @ Black Belt (Poisoned)
~Brick Break

Lairon Lv 46 @ Hard Stone
~Rock Slide

Haunter Lv 47 @ Poison Barb

Meowstic, despite being 6 levels higher than Shauna’s Delphox last update, has basically the same damage output with Psychic, so Sliggoo can stall it with Toxic and Protect. Dragon Pulse is there so I have something to do on non-Protect turns, but in reality it doesn’t help in a meaningful way. Toxic-Protect-Attack-Protect deals 10/16th HP in Poison damage, so unless that attack deals the remaining 6/16ths, I have to do another Attack-Protect rotation. This completes the 6 turns Toxic needs to finish something, making the direct attacks pointless. And as you can probably imagine, Pokemon I’m Toxic stalling with can’t do that much damage with their direct attacks. After Meowstic faints, Altaria comes out and finishes Sliggoo, which is basically what’s going to happen every time Serena sends out a new Pokemon.

I send out Lairon, who is 3HKOd by Altaria’s Dragon Pulse, and just barely 2HKOs it back with Rock Slide. Chesnaught is next and KOs Lairon.

I send out Haunter, but I can’t just blindly Sludge Bomb Chesnaught. If I do, I trigger Overgrow, causing Chesnaught to OHKO Haunter with Seed Bomb despite resisting it. Just removing the Poison Barb would still let me 2HKO without triggering Overgrow, but the one time I tried this I crit Chesnaught, defeating the point. So I went with an even more reliable strategy, starting with Toxic for a bit of poison damage with Protect, and more importantly powering up Venoshock to KO Chesnaught even with that small amount of damage. Absol comes in and KOs Haunter.

I send in Gurdurr who smashes Absol with Brick Break. Even a crit Slash doesn’t OHKO Gurdurr, though this isn’t surprising since Slash is a very weak move at this point. Serena sends in Vaporeon, but unlike before I don’t let Gurdurr faint because I want it to be poisoned for the rest of Victory Road.

I switch to Lombre, who takes little damage from a 4x resisted Muddy Water and is almost entirely negated with Leftovers after using Protect. With Leftovers and Protect, Lombre’s taking similar damage as Sliggoo did from Meowstic, and naturally Vaporeon meets the same toxic fate.

Final Stretch to the Pokemon League:

The first trainer after Serena has Banette and Leafeon. Banette isn’t much of a threat, opting to not utilize its one good stat (attack) by using Shadow Ball instead of Shadow Claw. As such, Sliggoo can Toxic stall it with ease. Instead of Eviolite, I use Chesto Berry for a free Rest so I can finish with as much HP as possible. However, I don’t want to finish with too much HP, so even though I can Protect to finish Banette off with Toxic, I take the hit instead. The reason for this is so when Leafeon comes in, I don’t have to risk it using Swords Dance, as it will instead opt for the KO with Double-Edge. I send in Haunter, who is outsped and almost OHKOd by Leaf Blade, but finishes off Leafeon with Poison Barb Sludge Bomb due to the recoil from Double-Edge, which is why I wanted Sliggoo at a good amount of HP.

For the next trainer, I use TMs to completely revamp Haunter’s moveset. Now it knows Shadow Ball/Will-O-Wisp/Substitute/Protect, and I also gave it a Kasib (Ghost-resist) Berry. He leads with Trevenant, and I use Will-O-Wisp. With the burn and Kasib Berry, Haunter survives Shadow Claw with around 30%. This lets me stall for burn damage for 3 turns afterwards with Protect-Substitute-Protect. With Trevenant at half HP, Shadow Ball finishes it off. Gigalith comes out, and Haunter burns it with Will-O-Wisp before fainting. With the burn, Gigalith can’t OHKO Lombre, and with Protect to add burn damage plus faster Surfs, Lombre easily deals with Gigalith.

The wonder duo of Gothorita and Gurdurr returns for the final two fights, the first of which leads with Glaceon. It almost OHKOs Gothorita with Blizzard as I set up Trick Room, and finishes with Quick Attack so I don’t get my usual final attack. But it doesn’t matter, as I weakened Gurdurr on the wild Pokemon so it would enter this fight with <25% HP, causing its Liechi Berry to immediately activate. Stacked with Guts, this is an immediate x2.25 boost to attack. While it’s overkill for Glaceon (who is OHKOd by Brick Break), I need it for the Snorlax that comes after, who gets OHKOd by my supercharged Gurdurr’s Hammer Arm despite its titanic HP.

For the last trainer, I teach Haunter Thunderbolt and give it a Colbur (Dark-resist) Berry. Skarmory leads, and it gets 2HKOd by Haunter’s Thunderbolt while failing to OHKO back with Night Slash due to Colbur Berry. Alakazam comes out and finishes Haunter three times over. Gothorita doesn’t break quite so easily, and survives Shadow Ball while, you guessed it, setting up Trick Room. Before fainting, it fires off its own Shadow Ball to soften up Alakazam. Gurdurr comes in and finishes off Alakazam with Façade, a tried-and-true Guts partner. Umbreon gets the honor of being the last Pokemon of Victory Road, but just gets 2HKOd by Brick Break. I gave Gurdurr a Persim Berry in case of Confuse Ray, but I didn’t see it- just a laughable Quick Attack.

Afterwards, I'm a quick dash away from leaving Victory Road and entering the Pokemon League, the finale of the ingame Pokemon experience. Let's finish this!
It's been 3000 years weeks...

Update 11: The Pokemon League

The Pokemon League is the climax of any Pokemon journey, and serves as the ultimate test for the Pokemon that trainers have raised throughout their adventure. That’s the intent, anyways. I, by the nature of this challenge, haven’t actually raised any Pokemon, and the strongest trainers of Kalos will be the first challengers my new team faces- a hell of a way to start. Originally, these newbies were Pokemon from Victory Road, who had a leg up over traditionally-raised Pokemon- they were actually higher level than Pokemon a conventional trainer would have by this point with a full team and minimal/no grinding. Mind you, the complete lack of EVs counteracted this by itself, and NFE-only further tipped the scales. But the fact remained that these high levels made the supposed climax of the game not that difficult. Initially, I thought it wouldn’t be feasible to not use Victory Road Pokemon (as I did for Victory Road itself). I mentioned as such in the write-up I was doing after beating the Elite Four for the first time. However, I hadn’t honestly considered it, and once I actually did, I realized it was entirely possible to do so. As such, I’m pleased to give you a finale for the challenge actually worthy of the Pokemon League.

Before I begin the write-up of the League itself, I should let you know that I have, for the first time, actually recorded footage!

As will be quickly apparent if you click that link, I don’t have a 3DS capture card, which is why I haven’t recorded anything previously. Still, I thought it was fitting to record the finale, and all things considered, I think it turned out decently (though I’m still salty at WMM de-synching the audio of my backing tracks slightly once I exported). The video is very long (50 minutes), but there’s about 8 minutes of time that is trivial set-up, and I’ll be instructing you to skip past these with annotations to remove the tedium. I also have general annotations to explain non-obvious things, so the video itself can work as a substitute for the write-up. Said annotations are hard to read in the embedded view, so I recommed actually going to YouTube to watch it. Anyways, whether you want to watch the video or read the write-up, let’s begin!

My team:

Weepinbell Lv 48
Stats: 135 HP/94 Atk/57 Def/100 SpA/63 SpD/61 Spd
IVs: 29 - 30/6 - 7/23 - 24/28 - 29/21 - 22/7 - 8

Graveler Lv 45
Stats: 109 HP/101 Atk/113 Def/49 SpA/50 SpD/51 Spd
IVs: 10 - 12/24 - 25/10 - 12/22 - 23/10 - 12/24 - 25

Sliggoo Lv 48
Stats: 123 HP/81 Atk/68 Def/97 SpA/138 SpD/63 Spd
IVs: 0 - 1/9 - 10/26 - 27/26 - 27/27 - 28/16 - 19

Haunter Lv 47
Stats: 99 HP/47 Atk/60 Def/122 SpA/57 SpD/111 Spd
IVs: 0 - 1/3 - 4/28 - 29/19 - 21/1 - 2/15 - 16

Murkrow Lv 18
Stats: Don’t matter

Gothorita Lv 50
Stats: 132 HP/51 Atk/79 Def/100 SpA/90 SpD/70 Spd
IVs: 24 - 25/14 - 15/8 - 9/22 - 23/0 - 1/20 - 21

Again, I’ll only be adding sets and items for each individual battle since they change frequently.


Wikstrom leads with a Klefki who virtually always set up Spikes, which despite Klefki’s relatively meager offense, opens me up to Wikstrom’s more dangerous Pokemon. It’s especially bad for Graveler, whose Sturdy won’t work anymore. I also have to deal with his Scizor, which is honestly the most dangerous Pokemon in the Elite Four, since I have no good way to hit its one weakness (only Graveler gets a fire move, who can’t survive anything from Scizor after Spikes), and its priority Technician Bullet Punch is still plenty strong enough to mess up strategies that nerf or invalidate its speed. Fortunately, Wikstrom is relatively tame after that, including competitive champion Aegislash, who is easy to exploit in the novice hands of the AI.

Wikstrom’s team: Klefki Lv 63/Scizor Lv 63/Probopass Lv 63/Aegislash Lv 65

My team:

Weepinbell @ Eviolite
~Stun Spore

Gothorita @ Leftovers
~Calm Mind
~Future Sight

Haunter @ Petaya Berry (Enters at 2 HP)
~Shadow Ball

Sliggoo @ Sitrus Berry

While Klefki’s Spikes present an issue for my later Pokemon, they’re harmless to what’s currently out, which makes it a prime candidate to nerf and set up on. Even though Weepinbell’s stats aren’t really tailored to a supporting role like this, its movepool is, with Stun Spore and Flash perfect for my planned strategy. With Eviolite, Weepinbell only takes upwards of ~60% from Flash Cannon, and by using Stun Spore followed by Confide, the second Flash Cannon only does up to ~40%, so Weepinbell can get a second Confide off before dying. But what actually happens is that Klefki, not able to get a KO immediately, uses several turns setting up Spikes. With this in mind, Weepinbell has plenty of chances to Confide as Klefki sets up Spikes. By the time it’s done setting up Spikes, it’s too late for it to overpower Weepinbell. Eventually it uses Torment on Weepinbell, but I just use Flash as an additional nerfing move I can alternate with Confide. It’s not long before Klefki is totally helpless at -6 special attack and -5 accuracy. Needless to say, it’s time to set up Gothorita

With Substitute to withstand critical hits, setting up Calm Mind is mostly effortless at this point. Unfortunately, while Torment can miss, it does bypass Substitutes so it’s rare for Gothorita to not get afflicted with it, though it’s nothing more than a nuisance. Once I get Gothorita to +4, I use Thunderbolt on Klefki for roughly half its health, since I can’t OHKO it anyways. I use my final Calm Mind to get to +5, then Future Sight. With a Substitute intact, I finish Klefki with another Thunderbolt. The dreaded Scizor comes out, and like Klefki I can’t OHKO it, but it’s a huge threat that will outspeed and OHKO me with X-Scissor. This is the purpose of Future Sight- even though Gothorita can only get one attack off on Scizor usually, my earlier Future Sight lets Gothorita get a second hit in. Due to Torment, I can’t finish it with Thunderbolt the same turn, but I can just use Substitute as I get hit with X-Scissor and do it next turn. Aegislash comes out and wastes a turn with King’s Shield, then finishes me with Shadow Claw.

I send out Haunter, who is purposely weakened so that its Petaya Berry activates immediately. Because Aegislash puts itself in Blade forme by finishing Gothorita, its defenses are terrible and it gets OHKOd by Shadow Ball. As a safety measure, if Aegislash uses King’s Shield, Haunter can Protect which takes Aegislash attack as it puts itself into Blade forme again. Last is Probopass, who Haunter weakens a bit with Shadow Ball before dying.

Even after three layers of Spikes, Sliggoo can still survive two hits from Probopass with a Sitrus Berry. With Bide to return that damage back double, it translates that damage into a KO easily.


Siebold’s team hits like a truck, with Starmie of all things being the least threatening. Unlike Wikstrom, his lead Clawitzer hits way too hard to even consider setting up on it. However, my team has a pretty good type match-up versus Siebold, so I can launch an equally effective counterattack.

Siebold’s team: Clawitzer Lv 63/Starmie Lv 63/Gyarados Lv 63/Barbaracle Lv 65

My team:

Gothorita @ Colbur Berry
~Trick Room

Graveler @ Persim Berry
~Stealth Rock
~Sunny Day

Weepinbell @ Salac Berry
~Solar Beam
~Stun Spore

Haunter @ Petaya Berry (At half HP)
~Energy Ball

Gothorita survives Dark Pulse with Colbur Berry, and set up Trick Room followed by Confide. Water Pulse is actually stronger than a halved Dark Pulse, and can OHKO with a high damage roll due to my low special defense IV, but fortunately that doesn’t happen.

With Trick Room up and Sturdy, Graveler can set up two moves as well, which are Stealth Rock and Sunny Day. The Persim Berry is a safety measure in case Water Pulse confuses me.

The stage is now set for Weepinbell to shine. On the last turn of Trick Room, I barely survive Dragon Pulse due to Confide, set up Growth (which is +2 in the sunlight), and activate my Salac Berry, which in tandem with Chlorophyll triples my speed. With Trick Room over, Weepinbell outspeeds and OHKOs Clawitzer with Solar Beam. Starmie meets the same fate, and is why I needed the Salac Berry, since even with double speed Weepinbell doesn’t outspeed it. Gyarados comes in and takes a good chunk from Stealth Rock, but unfortunately its Grass-neutrality halts my sweep, so I instead use Stun Spore to nerf it, then send out Haunter.

Now paralyzed, Haunter outspeeds Gyarados and uses Substitute until its Petaya Berry activates. With the damage from Stealth Rock, a 4x effective Thunderbolt KOs Gyarados. Barbaracle is naturally slower than Haunter, and meets a similar end as Gyarados, but with Energy Ball instead of Thunderbolt.


Malva’s team is decent with the exception of Torkoal (Flame Wheel, seriously?). Most of her team have secondary STABs that would dissuade Fire-resists, if not for the fact that two of them are resisted by Rock anyways. Chandelure is the exception, whose Fire/Ghost coverage isn’t resisted by anything recent, not to mention that Chandelure is incredibly strong. It also has Confuse Ray, which makes most strategies versus it inconsistent.

Malva’s team: Pyroar Lv 63/Torkoal Lv 63/Chandelure Lv 63/Talonflame Lv 65

My team:

Sliggoo @ Eviolite
~Rain Dance
~Dragon Pulse

Graveler @ Wide Lens
~Stone Edge

Haunter @ Salac Berry (enters at 43 HP)

Murkrow @ nothing

Malva’s Pyroar has Rivalry, which is an easy ability to turn against it. My male Sliggoo with Eviolite is 4HKOd by Hyper Voice, which gives me a lot of flexibility against it. I start with Toxic, then use Rain Dance followed by Rest. Due to Sliggoo’s ability Hydration, it immediately wakes up at the end of the turn using Rest, and I use it again the next turn. Pyroar’s taken 4 turns of Toxic damage at this point, so as long as I can do 1/16th of its health in direct damage, Toxic will finish it (5 turns of Toxic is 15/16ths). I’m not quite that weak, so Dragon Pulse is plenty strong enough to get the job done, and Toxic finishes Pyroar. Talonflame comes in and KOs me with Brave Bird.

I send in Graveler, who even with a 20 level difference has a dominating match-up. Stone Edge OHKOs Talonflame, while Talonflame’s Brave Bird or Flare Blitz 3HKOs. Malva sends in Torkoal, who I outspeed (a pretty amazing testament to how slow Torkoal is) and Toxic before it finishes me with Earthquake.

I send in Haunter, who’s at 43 HP by using two Potions after Siebold. The reason for this is so I can activate my Salac Berry after one Substitute, which I need to activate ASAP or Toxic damage will prompt Malva to use a Full Restore. I use Protect-Substitute-Protect to stall for the necessary Toxic damage (4 turns, one of which comes from the turn Graveler used it) and finish it with Venoshock. Chandelure comes out, which I outspeed due to Salac Berry and Curse it.

I send in Prankster Murkrow to stall out Chandelure. Chandelure’s HP isn’t divisible by 4, so 4 turns of Curse gets it to single-digit HP and Malva uses a Full Restore. But this isn’t a big deal, as Curse persists, plus it’s predictable so I use Toxic on the same turn. Toxic+Curse finishes off a Pokemon in 3 turns. It also does so from high enough HP to bypass another Full Restore: Turn 1: 5/16ths, Turn 2: 6/16ths, Turn 3: 7/16ths, which finishes from 5/16ths HP. With such extreme constant damage, Murkrow has no problems stalling out Chandelure with Protect and Substitute


Impressively, for her two non-Kalos Pokemon slots, Drasna picks the two worst fully-evolved Dragon types- Altaria and Druddigon. And while her Kalos picks (Diantha uses the remaining two non-legendary lines, so it’s not like she really had a choice) aren’t bad, they’re not great either. So despite Dragon’s legacy as the strongest type, Drasna is pretty mediocre.

Drasna’s team: Dragalge Lv 63/Altaria Lv 63/Druddigon Lv 63/Noivern Lv 65

My team:

Weepinbell @ Eviolite
~Stun Spore

Graveler @ nothing
~Stealth Rock

Sliggoo @ Maranga Berry

Gothorita @ Leftovers
~Calm Mind
~Thunder Wave

Again, the goal here is to set up Gothorita. Unlike Wikstrom’s Klefki, Dragalge doesn’t waste time with Spikes and is noticeably stronger, so it’s much harder to set up on. However, Drasna can actually be swept once Gothorita is set up, which means I have three slots instead of one to nerf Dragalge, so it cancels out. Again, I start with Weepinbell, whose most important contribution is paralyzing Dragalge with Stun Spore, and starts the Confide train before it faints.

Graveler is next and is mainly here to set up Stealth Rock, but since it has Sturdy, it gets a second turn and uses Confide. I get a lucky FP, so I’m able to Confide a second time before fainting.

Even though Sliggoo is weak to Dragalge’s STAB Dragon Pulse, it’s still my best option to finish nerfing Dragalge since its special defense is so massive. Maranga Berry increases my special defense after I get hit by Dragon Pulse, though it’s really more of a safety measure if Dragalge doesn’t FP. But Dragalge FPs twice, so it proves to be unnecessary as Sliggoo uses three Confides to bring Dragalge’s special attack to the minimum. With Dragalge fully nerfed, I switch in Gothorita.

Setting up is trivial at this point with Substitute and Calm Mind. I do make a stupid mistake though, and forget to use Substitute one turn. This is particularly risky with Dragalge, since besides the crit chance, it also has a substantially higher (30%) chance to poison me with Sludge Bomb. Fortunately, neither of those things happen and my stupidity goes unpunished. Once fully set-up, Gothorita OHKOs with Psychic. Altaria is next and uses a Dragon Pulse that leaves my sub intact, and gets KOd back with Psychic due to Stealth Rock.

Noivern comes out and is able to break my sub with its Dragon Pulse, but I use Thunder Wave instead of attacking it. This is because I want to ensure I have a sub up once I beat Noivern. It sometimes uses Super Fang which will break my sub in one hit. If I’m slower and use Substitute immediately after the previous one breaks, then attack the next turn, Noivern can use Super Fang and leave me sub-less going into the last Pokemon. But since I’m faster, I’ll know the turn I use Substitute whether or not Noivern will break it and can react accordingly. Like Sliggoo’s Maranga Berry, I don’t end up needing this safety net since Noivern’s first attack on my newly set up sub is Dragon Pulse. I then KO it with Psychic. Last out is Druddigon, who isn’t KOd by Psychic even with Stealth Rock. However, since I have a sub to take the attack and am practically faster (not actually, but Druddigon uses the negative priority Dragon Tail), this isn’t a big deal. Gothorita saves me some time anyways and crits after Drasna uses a Full Restore.

Champion Diantha:

Diantha is often thought of as the worst champion, and that reputation does not go undeserved. She has Aurorus and Gourgeist, neither of which have a place on a champion-caliber team. She also has numerous shared weaknesses despite the lack of monotyping. Namely, 3x Steel, 3x Fairy, and 4x Ice. While the rest of her team, particularly Goodra and Mega Gardevoir, are pretty good, they’re still not quite enough to overcome her flaws and produce a team worthy of a champion.

Diantha’s team: Hawlucha Lv 64/Tyrantrum Lv 65/Aurorus Lv 65/Gourgeist Lv 65/Goodra Lv 66/Mega Gardevoir Lv 68

My team:

Haunter @ Salac Berry (Enters at half HP)

Murkrow @ nothing

Graveler @ Wide Lens
~Rock Polish
~Power-Up Punch
~Stealth Rock

Diantha leads with Hawlucha, which has a marvelously bad match-up versus Haunter. Its attacking moves are Flying Press, Poison Jab, and X-Scissor, so a 4x resisted Poison Jab/X-Scissor is the best it can muster. Hawlucha performs as dreadfully as expected, only getting off a Poison Jab and X-Scissor as it gets 2HKOd by Haunter’s Thunderbolt. That dreadfulness is actually counterproductive for me since I need to activate my Salac Berry, so that’s why I entered at half health. Diantha sends in Tyrantrum, which Haunter now outspeeds and has the chance to use Curse.

I send in Murkrow to stall out Tyrantrum, which works out similarly to how it stalled out Malva’s Chandelure. The only possible difference is that if Tyrantrum uses Head Smash on Murkrow’s Substitute before a Full Restore is use, the recoil, small as it may be, will cause Diantha to Full Restore a turn earlier. Though in my case, Tyrantrum misses with Head Smash so that doesn’t end up mattering. Anyways, Murkrow stalls out Tyrantrum with the help of Curse. Diantha sends in Aurorus, which will be her undoing. It only has two attacking moves, Blizzard and Thunder. The former only has 5 PP, and it’s Murkrow’s job to deplete that PP, which it does using its bread and butter- Prankster Substitute stalling. With Protect as well, this isn’t hard to do, though sometimes Aurorus will set up a screen or use Thunder instead. Torment is a move I use later on, but honestly it’s just a relic of an older strategy and is not needed at all. I let Aurorus finish me with its last Blizzard PP (which I can be assured is not Thunder due to Torment, though I have enough HP for another sub anyways), and send in Graveler.

As I mentioned earlier, Aurorus attacks with Blizzard and Thunder, and with the former gone, all that’s left is Thunder which Graveler is conveniently immune to. Graveler’s Rollout grows in power exponentially, making it perfect to sweep a remainder of a team like this, and also armed with a way to increase attack and speed, Graveler is a perfect Pokemon to capitalize on this golden set-up opportunity. There is one wrinkle, though, ironically born out of Aurorus’ uselessness that gave me the set-up in the first place. Graveler’s only way to increase attack is with Power-Up Punch, which Aurorus is 4x weak to. Combined with the fact that Diantha is only willing to use one Full Restore on Aurorus, I actually can’t set up to max attack while giving Rollout time to get going. The only way I can even get close (+5) is if I only use Power-Up Punch while Aurorus has Reflect up. I use the turns with no Reflect to set up Rock Polish and Stealth Rock. Once I’m fully set up, I don’t want to attack immediately, as Reflect will not have worn off once Aurorus faints. So I waste a turn, then start using Rollout. The first hit doesn’t KO (which is good since I need to build power), but the second one does and Reflect wears off at the end of the turn. Goodra comes out next, but Rollout isn’t at truly outrageous power yet (only 120 BP), so this is where I need Stealth Rock to secure the KO. Gourgeist comes out, but Rollout’s now far too strong to stop and it gets promptly steamrolled. As a last stand, Diantha uses her Gardevoirite to show me the awesome power of Mega Evolution… which I balk at and show her the only Mega Stone that counts- my Graveler.

And with that, the main game has been completed in this challenge! But wait, one more challenger awaits at my celebration…

The Phantom Man:

Actually, there is no celebration or mysterious challenger (spoilers, it would be AZ). Apparently all of that only happens the first time you beat the game, which I already did when I won with Victory Road Pokemon. Whoops! Still, AZ wouldn’t be trivial with my restrictions, mainly because the Pokemon League sets my team in stone (I would probably use Lombre for AZ if I could) and having no in-game break between Diantha and him restricts my sets. So, I’d rather not let the theorymon go to waste.

AZ’s team: Torkoal Lv 60/Golurk Lv 60/Sigilyph Lv 60

My team:

Haunter @ nothing
~Rain Dance

Gothorita @ Sitrus Berry
~Trick Room
~Calm Mind
~Grass Knot

Sliggoo @ Eviolite
~Ice Beam
~Rain Dance

Since Haunter had to use a Salac Berry for Diantha, it’s left with no item. But at least Gothorita and Sliggoo have freedom to use whatever TMs and items they want since they weren’t used for Diantha. The plan would be to lead with Rain Dance, which would weaken Torkoal’s Lava Plume so Haunter survives it, then use Curse the next turn and send in Gothorita.

With its main STAB weakened, Gothorita can survive two hits from Torkoal with a Sitrus Berry. It uses Protect the first turn it’s out, then Calm Mind. Depending on whether or not Torkoal’s HP was divisible by 4 (I could tell if its HP was yellow after two turns of Curse), I would either Protect then Trick Room (not divisible by 4) or just Trick Room (divisible by 4). In the first scenario, Rain would have finished by the turn I used Trick Room, but it wouldn’t matter since I’d have a special defense boost from Calm Mind. In either case, Curse would finish Torkoal, and hopefully Golurk would come out (it has a super-effective Phantom Force versus Gothorita, while Sigilyph has no super-effective moves). With Trick Room out, I’d hopefully be faster (though if AZ has 0 IVs, I’d actually be slower in TR…), and be able to take off ~70% of Golurk’s HP with +1 Grass Knot before fainting. Even if Golurk uses the two-turn Phantom Force, there will still be Trick Room turns left for my next Pokemon, Sliggoo.

With the majority of its health gone, Sliggoo can finish off Golurk with Ice Beam. AZ sends out Sigilyph, who is fortunately special-based. I can 3HKO it with Ice Beam if it doesn’t use Cosmic Power, though it likely would and complicate things. So instead of going for the damage immediately, I think I would go for Rain Dance instead to set up for Hydration Rest. Sigilyph 3HKOs me and TR will go away soon, but it wouldn’t be a big deal. If I spend the first turn using Rain Dance, then Rest on the next turn, I’ll be able to alternate Ice Beam and Rest. Protect would be for the turn after, so I can stall out the last turn of Rain Dance and then do the pattern again. Though, Sigilyph using Cosmic Power would reduce the number of turns I need to heal, so who knows how exactly it would have worked out on the fly, but Sliggoo should have been able to handle it.

The worst thing about this fight is that if anything went wrong, I only have one chance (per save file, apparently) to do it, which is obnoxious. The fight can be lost without consequence, but I would rather have it done legitimately.

On postgame:

XY has an infamously dismal postgame, but there's still some, which basically consists of a rival fight and the Looker sidequest in Lumiose. I don't think the Looker sidequest is really interesting at all combat wise, but I will probably do the final Serena fight some time.
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Read the whole thing and it was awesome. One question: you are using NFE Pokemon ... are there any fully evolved Pokemon off the top of your head that you think would have broken the game and made it way too easy? (ie. very strong and available in a lot of areas / good against a lot of different teams)
Read the whole thing and it was awesome. One question: you are using NFE Pokemon ... are there any fully evolved Pokemon off the top of your head that you think would have broken the game and made it way too easy? (ie. very strong and available in a lot of areas / good against a lot of different teams)
There's nothing omnipresent that breaks the game, but Farfetch'd (lol) would trivialize Viola, and Mawile would do the same for Grant. There's also the occasional strong standalone Pokemon like Sawk and Tauros, but these don't have the type advantage necessary to dominate.

For the most part, using fully-evolved Pokemon just reduces the need for strategy, but doesn't invalidate it. On Valerie for example, Gengar naturally outspeeds Mr. Mime, so I don't need my fancy switch-in Salac Berry, which also leaves it with enough HP to deal with Sylveon without the need to have kept death fodder.
Update 12: Postgame

XY’s postgame is very sparse, and as such this will be the final update for this run. Once I arrive in Kiloude City, I can fight Serena for the final time, which unlocks the Looker sidequest. If I really want to dig deep for things to do, I can do the high level cafes in Lumiose City (though Triples and Rotations are much harder formats to control than Singles), and if I ever go mad, I can tackle the Battle Maison. Speaking of which, grinding BP in the non-Super Multi mode is feasible (Tierno is a reasonably competent partner), and if there was more postgame it might be worth getting some of the useful Maison-exclusive items. But sadly there is not, and since none of this honestly interests me besides fighting Serena, she’s going to be the extent of this challenge’s postgame excursion. I’ll also note that I’m still not using Victory Road Pokemon.

Serena (Kiloude City):

For her last fight, Serena finally gets a full team. Unlike the Altaria she added last time, her new Clefable is very strong. It’s tanky with few weaknesses to exploit, and Magic Guard blocks all indirect damage, which is incredibly annoying. While its coverage, Focus Blast and Meteor Mash, is rather strange considering Clefable’s options, they still work well enough given the massive level gap. It also has Sing, which disrupts attempts to wall it.

Her other addition, though, is far from stellar. Serena hops onto the Mega Evolution train and gets an Absolite, though the decision seems haphazard even from the development side, since Chesnaught is still her highest-leveled Pokemon. First off, Mega Absol gets a large special attack boost which Serena doesn’t utilize, and a large speed boost which is superfluous when I can’t even outspeed normal Absol. So 80 of the 100 BST increase is irrelevant. The remaining 20 goes to attack, but because Mega Absol loses Super Luck, its two primary attacking moves, Night Slash and Slash (lol), are actually less threatening since they lose their alarming 50% crit rate. And while the replacement ability Magic Bounce is nice, it’s somewhat wasted on a Pokemon as fragile as Absol. The end result? Mega Absol is actually less threatening than its ordinary self. Some “Evolution” that ends up being.

All in all, while Serena is probably easier than Diantha in a vacuum (Serena lacks healing items and has somewhat weaker Pokemon to offset her slightly higher levels), I don’t have a strategy as magnificently cheesy as Diantha’s for her, so she ends up being more difficult in practice, and a nice way to conclude the run.

Recorded battle:

Serena’s team: Meowstic Lv 66/Vaporeon Lv 66/Altaria Lv 67/Clefable Lv 68/Chesnaught Lv 70/Mega Absol Lv 68

My team:

Gothorita Lv 50 @ Kasib Berry
Stats: 130 HP/58 Atk/84 Def/86 SpA/113 SpD/55 Spd
IVs: 20 - 21/16 - 17/18 - 19/12 - 13/26 - 27/4 - 5
~Trick Room
~Fake Tears

Trubbish Lv 35 @ Amulet Coin
Impish/Sticky Hold
Stats: Don’t matter
IVs: Don’t matter
~Toxic Spikes

Haunter Lv 47 @ Expert Belt
Stats: 107 HP/60 Atk/55 Def/126 SpA/52 SpD/111 Spd
IVs: 17 - 18/18 - 19/17 - 18/28 - 29/3 - 4/15 - 16
~Shadow Ball

Poliwhirl Lv 50 @ Leftovers
Naïve/Water Absorb
Stats: 133 HP/84 Atk/84 Def/55 SpA/63 SpD/119 Spd
IVs: 16 - 17/28 - 29/28 - 29/0 - 1/30 - 31/28 - 29
~Power-Up Punch

Jigglypuff Lv 50 @ Never-Melt Ice
Stats: 184 HP/50 Atk/34 Def/57 SpA/37 SpD/36 Spd
IVs: 18 - 19/12 - 13/12 - 13/14 - 15/14 - 15/22 - 23
~Ice Beam

Gurdurr Lv 45 @ Chilan Berry (Poisoned)
Stats: 132 HP/119 Atk/86 Def/40 SpA/59 SpD/49 Spd
IVs: 2 - 3/22 - 23/10 - 12/9 - 11/20 - 22/18 - 19
~Brick Break

As always, Serena leads with her Meowstic. Gothorita Protects its Fake Out, then sets up Trick Room as it takes a Shadow Ball. The Kasib Berry isn’t needed to survive this, but Gothorita doesn’t need an item so I may as well safeguard against a crit. On the next turn, Gothorita softens up Meowstic with Fake Tears, then gets KOd by Shadow Ball. Before I can take advantage of this, I need to set up Toxic Spikes. With how outdated all its potential users are, under Trick Room is the only viable time to set them, so I have Trubbish do just that before sending in Haunter.

With the Expert Belt, Haunter OHKOs Meowstic at -2 with Shadow Ball. Vaporeon comes in and gets poisoned, so Haunter Protects to get a bit of damage before switching to Poliwhirl, who comes in for free due to Water Absorb.

Vaporeon’s moveset is Hydro Pump/Aurora Beam/Quick Attack, so it’s hard-pressed to do any significant damage to Poliwhirl. Even though I’m faster and can use Substitute to stall, it’s better to take a bit more damage from potential Aurora Beams and set up Power-Up Punches, while alternating with Protect. But on the last turn, I Power-Up Punch twice in a row since poison would KO Vaporeon and I want that attack boost, so I end up at +3. Chesnaught comes in and is also poisoned, but unlike Vaporeon I’m forced to stall with Substitute since Wood Hammer will annihilate me. Fortunately, Wood Hammer’s recoil does speed up the process a bit, and between that and Leftovers Poliwhirl has barely enough HP to stall out both Pokemon. Clefable comes in and Poliwhirl uses its attack boosts for an honestly laughable, yet necessary hit of ~30% with Waterfall before being destroyed by Moonblast.

While Clefable isn’t affected by the damage of poison, it still takes double damage from Venoshock, which Haunter uses to finish Clefable off with the Expert Belt boost. Altaria comes in, and again I get a free switch as it fires off a nulled Dragon Pulse into Jigglypuff’s Fairy typing.

Despite Jigglypuff’s terrible stats, it has just the right tricks up its sleeve to deal with Altaria. It knows Dragon Pulse/Dazzling Gleam/Confide, which means only Dazzling Gleam can hit Jigglypuff. But, Jigglypuff can survive one and Disable it, so the only move left that will affect Jigglypuff is Confide. While normally this would prevent Jigglypuff from KOing Altaria with Ice Beam before Disable ran out, Competitive essentially inverts the effects and lets Jigglypuff 2HKO with Ice Beam. Thanks! But, Jigglypuff’s victory is short-lived as Mega Absol comes in and pops it with Slash.

As discussed earlier, Mega Absol is very unimpressive, and unsurprisingly is dealt with the same way as Absol was last time- a straight-up brawl with Gurdurr. Like Gothorita, Gurdurr doesn’t need the Chilan Berry to survive Slash, but it’s still nice to have as a crit fail-safe. With the poison damage Absol took from KOing Jigglypuff, a Guts-boosted Brick Break nearly finishes it off, and the poison damage at the end of the turn finishes Absol, as well as the challenge.

Serena claims she’ll reflect on this loss and improve, but this is the strongest she gets in XY, and if Sun/Moon are indeed Gen 7, she never will get that chance. RIP Serena & Pokemon Z…

Closing Thoughts:

I’ve done a lot of Pokemon challenges over the years, but this has been my favorite by far. Plenty of challenges have been difficult, but they’ve generally felt very restrictive. Whether they were monotype runs, solos, bad Pokemon only, unevolved only, or some combination of those, the basis of these challenges was always to restrict Pokemon access. But it’s really kind of a waste to focus so much on restricting your Pokemon with challenges when one of Pokemon’s greatest assets is the incredible number of options it gives you. For all their faults, XY exemplify this better than any other Pokemon game. An enormous regional dex, tons of reusable TMs, and several items available, all during the main game. While I do restrict my Pokemon in this challenge with NFE-only (a necessary concession to maintain difficulty, unfortunately), I’ve still used 36 different species for boss fights, and an additional 10 for normal trainers throughout this challenge. I’ve also gotten the chance to use lots of moves, abilities, and items I’ve never used before. Yet despite this versatility, the challenge was still very difficult, and I’m very pleased with the results. The only issue I had was having to catch so many Pokemon, which usually had at least some minor IV requirement, but if nothing else, I have two shinies to show for it (Skitty and Weepinbell).

As I said in the OP, this run was inspired by 0 EXP runs of Pokemon that others have done. The biggest source of these runs is from a YouTuber named MoogleBoss. If you liked reading through this thread, I recommend checking his runs out, which can all be found in a single playlist here. They don’t have battle restrictions as strict as this challenge’s, but for the most part that’s because it’s just not feasible in earlier generations without XY’s crazy flexibility.

Thanks for reading!

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