Ever since the Pokémon series first debuted in the UK over two decades ago now, I have always had a real fascination with the series. From memorizing stats in the generation one games as a way to make friends, to using Pokémon Go to recover from surgery, and currently trying to hunt down rare shiny variants of every single creature in the series, I am really quite deep down the rabbit hole of Pokémon game fandom.
However, until recently, there is a method of playing through Pokémon games that I had never actually tried, or at the very least not stuck with long enough to fully appreciate the challenge of. While I’d previously played a few hours of runs here and there, only recently did I attempt my first fully committed Nuzlocke run of a Pokémon game.
So, for the uninitiated, what is a Nuzlocke run of a Pokémon game? Well, in short, it’s a fan made set of custom rules players impose on themselves to make Pokémon games much harder to complete. The rules vary by which game you’re playing, and some of the rules are considered optional add-ons depending on how difficult you want the challenge to be, but there are some basics most players agree on.
In a Nuzlocke run of Pokémon, players can only catch one Pokémon in each new route of the game, and wherever possible that Pokémon should be the first Pokémon randomly encountered on that route. In the older Pokémon games with random battles spawning from patches of grass, players are only allowed to catch the first Pokémon that leaps out at them. In newer games like Sword and Shield where Pokémon appear on the overworld, players might catch the first Pokémon they see spawn, or randomize their encounter with methods like closing their eyes and running in circles. Players have to nickname their Pokémon so they get attached to them, which tends to happen because of how few you have available to you. Lastly, if a Pokémon faints in battle, it is considered dead, and can no longer be used in future fights. If you are in a battle and all six Pokémon in your team are knocked out, you lose the run, even if you had additional Pokémon left alive still in your PC.
The idea behind a Nuzlocke run is simple, to get players attached to and reliant on Pokémon they might not have otherwise selected to use in their team normally. When you’re going up against a Grass Type Gym with no Fire Type Pokémon because your three encounters on the way there were all water types, you don’t have much of a choice as a player but to make the best of a bad situation and try to fight against the odds to win. It’s notably more challenging than a regular playthrough, and often leads to memorable stories for the player.
With the basics explained, I recently attempted a Nuzlocke run in Pokémon Shield, with several additional rules in place to make my experience more difficult. I only Caught one Pokémon in each Route, nicknamed my Pokémon and considered them dead if knocked out, but I also switched my game to Set Mode (where players don’t get a free Pokémon Switch when they knock out an enemy creature), and forbid myself from using healing items during battles. If a Pokémon didn’t have a move to heal itself, any damage it took during a fight would be permanent until the fight ended. I avoided using the game’s friendship building mechanics, which can sometimes cause your Pokémon to survive a hit which should rightly have killed them, and I resisted the urge to over-level my team, trying to never have my team of Pokémon more than around five levels stronger than the trainer I was about to fight, right through to the end of the game.
While I recognize that many of these self imposed rules decreased my odds of making it to the end of the game successfully, that was kind of the point. I’ve played through Pokémon games in the past confident in my ability to see the end credits roll, but I wanted to experience something new. If I knew my Pokémon could survive any enemy, due to luck based free survival or being super leveled up, I knew i could probably complete the playthrough without any losses. That’s not the point of a Nuzlocke, at least to me. For me, a Nuzlocke is about close calls, victory through strategy, relying on a sub ideal team, and seeing how far you can go under impossible odds. If I wasn’t going to have to mourn the losses of some valued Pokémon along the way, I wasn’t interested.
So, how did my Nuzlocke playthrough go? Well, here’s the story, summarised for your pleasure. Well, as summarised as I can make a thirty hour story anyway.
I started the game by allowing the Twitch chat to pick which of Generation 8’s starter Pokémon I would take with me on my journey. The chat chose the water type frog Pokémon Sobble, who is adorable, but set me up for a tough time against the game’s first gym. My first real challenge would be the grass type Gym leader Milo, so I knew I would need to find something with type advantage against Grass creatures along my way. We named Sobble Frogger, and a lot of hopes for the late game were placed on my sad water baby’s shoulders.
On route one, we closed our eyes and ran into a Wooloo. While Wooloo is decently defensive, and can throw out some decent normal type attacks in the early game, their lack of elemental moves meant that they didn’t stick around our team for too long. They were useful in the early game when we needed to pad out our party, but less so once we had to rely on type advantages to stay alive. We named Wooloo Shawn, and left to grab our Pokédex.
Then, on Route 2, early tragedy struck. We encountered a Nickit, a pure dark type who would have been incredibly helpful later in the game. Remember this moment people, because when I start to have difficulty in the late game dealing with Ghost Type Pokémon, my lack of a pure dark type is entirely my own doing. While mindlessly mashing buttons, I accidentally attacked Nivkit one too many times, knocking it out, and making it so that my only chance at collecting a creature on Route 2 was gone. It was already in the yellow health, we could have caught it, but my own lack of focus was its demise. I screwed up, and it was a wakeup call. If I was going to complete this challenge, I needed to take my time, think things through, and not press confirm on any action without being certain it was a smart move to make.
With Nickit out the picture, I felt vulnerable. I survived the fight with my rival and got my Dynamax band, but it was a far tighter fight than I had hoped for. I needed a new Pokémon, and I needed one asap. I realized I would need to think creatively going forward, and see if there were any locations, not strictly on numbered routes, where I could encounter more Pokémon.
After leaving the game’s starting town, I had to make a couple more choices about which Pokémon I would and would not be allowed to have on my team. We decided early on that gift Pokémon, creatures given to you without the risk of having to fight or throw balls to capture them, were off the table. The gift Pikachu and Eevee, as well as later gift Toxel, were all too powerful to receive for free, and didn’t follow the spirit of our team being randomised along the way.
Additionally, to ensure we could get a variety of what the wild area had to offer, we decided that after our initial visit to the Wild Area, we would be allowed to return after each completed Gym, to pick a new section of the Wild Area and catch a new random Pokémon from that zone. That would give us eight additional Pokémon encounters before the end of the game, with a variety of potential types and levels, which would give us a better shot at having the type coverage we would need to survive.
On my first visit to the Wild Area, I picked up a Bunnelby, who we called Babs. As a ground type, I fully expected her to become a core part of my team later in the game, but she was ultimately sidelined for a subsequent beefier ground type with more type coverage in their moves.
We also went back to our starting town, where an event to promote in game DLC gave us the chance to encounter a Galarian Slowpoke. We debated whether or not this constituted a gift Pokémon, but because it was strongly leveled, required a fight, and required being caught with Pokéballs, we felt this constituted a valid capture within the city limits, not on a previously caught route. We nicknamed them Hubert, and continued our journey to Motostoke, to register for the Pokémon league challenge.
While wandering around Motostoke itself, we managed to find a fishing spot within the city limits for another encounter, and came across Chewtle, a little snapping turtle who evolves into the fairly formidable water and rock type Dreadnaw. We managed to capture this beast, who became a core part of our team, and named them Captain Crunch.
We registered for the league successfully, survived our first fight with friendly goth rival Marnie, and left for route three. There, we caught a Stunky, the butt faced skunk poison type Pokémon, who we lovingly named Peaches. Peaches offered us a much needed additional elemental type on our team, and looking forward to upcoming gyms seemed like a viable solution for our eventual fight with the Fairy Type Gym. Frogger also evolved into a Drizzile, their awkward teenage phase, offering us a second stage evolution who might be able to tank some hits in a bad spot.
Inside Galar Mine we caught a Roggenrola, a small heavy adorable rock type, who again offered us a sturdy creature with a needed elemental type to hopefully keep our adventure moving. We named them, unimaginatively perhaps, Rocky. We had a rough time in our first fight with arsehole rival Bede, but we scraped through, leaving the cave and approaching our first gym still relatively unscathed.
In the fields, I had one final chance to catch a new Pokémon before we had to start fighting Gym leaders, and happened to run into a Pumpkaboo, a dual type grass ghost Pokémon shaped like an adorable scary floating pumpkin. We named the Ghost Gourde Gourdon, and left to tackle the grass gym, our first real challenge.
Heading into the Grass gym, I basically lead all my matches using Peaches the Stunky. She was equipped with the poison type move Acid Spray, which lowered special defense while doing super effective damage, which we hoped would be enough to get us through the gym unscathed. While we handled the trainers leading to the Gym Leader without too much trouble, I was caught off guard when leader Milo’s Pokémon all had several levels lead on Stunky, allowing them to tank her hits. When you’re still dealing with Pokémon in the late teen levels, a two to three level difference really makes a noticeable impact. Additionally, I failed to pay proper attention to how many Pokémon Milo had in his party, leading to him Dynamaxing his Eldegoss before I was ready and prepared to Dynamax my own creature in response. This basically lead to Peaches having to tank a hit from a creature the size of a skyscraper, very nearly killing Stunky right then and there. She just about survived the punch, so I Dynamaxed her. That was a bad move. I knew Dynamaxing increased the health of a Pokémon, but I vastly overestimated how much HP she would get in the process. She got off one big Poison attack, but was swiftly knocked out. We scraped through the final Pokémon with the help of Gourdon and Hubert, as well as Frogger who nearly died from a single attack, scraping by with only one Pokémon lost.
Considering how little we had in terms of Pokémon with type advantage, and the fact we were underlevelled for the Leader’s team, losing Peaches certainly hurt, but in hindsight we did remarkably well surviving as well as we did. With a team of largely Rock and Water types, most of the creatures we had would have been steamrolled if expected to hold their own.
With Gym one defeated, we returned to the wild area and caught a Snover, who we called Grover. While not a Pokémon I would usually have paid much attention to, adding an ice type to our team was going to be vital for several upcoming gyms, and so I was ecstatic to add them to the party.
On our way to the next route, for our next catch, we came up against a trainer with a Klink, that Steel type Pokémon that looks like a pair of gears with faces. What I hadn’t realized until this moment was that I had absolutely zero Pokémon in my team able to effectively deal with steel types, and suffered as a result. We lost Rocky, and in the process realized that we really needed to level up our team to match the level curve of enemy trainers if we were going to have a hope of overcoming the type deficits in our team.
At the campsite, just beyond the first gym, we picked up a Lombre, a combination grass and water type Pokémon. While I was initially skeptical how much help they would be in the party, their secret weapons were the fact they knew how to use Giga Drain, a strong grass type move that comes with strong free health restoration, and the fact that when they evolve to a Ludicolo their HP and Defense get really tanky. With a water type gym on the immediate horizon, we nicknamed them Lombro, and went on a risky quest to evolve them as soon as possible.
Deep in the north of the wild area, a location that at this part of my adventure was massively overlevelled for my team’s strength and could likely one hit kill many of my party, lay a Grass Stone hidden along a hidden path. I ran through the area, using all my skill and luck to avoid any encounters, grabbed the stone, evolved Lombro, and got the hell out of there as fast as I could.
In Hulbury, the town where the second gym is found, we picked up an Arrokuder by fishing in town. We named them Aaron Kuder ❤ (The heart standing for the band Heart, who had a song called Barrakuda), and placed them in the box in case late game we might need a backup water type to add to our team. Additionally, Captain Crunch evolved to a Dreadnaw, which was a big relief, and massively improved their viability on the team.
Nessa’s Water Gym was honestly a walk in the park. Lombro walked through every trainer, and the gym leader, with ease, and we barely had to worry once that any of our creatures were in any real danger.
In the second Galar Mine, I picked up a Binacle, another water and rock type we named Chucklevision. The creature knew a Bug Move, but it largely stood to be a replacement in the team if Captain Crunch took fatal damage along our journey. Back in the wild area, we encountered a Machop, whose fighting typing was later going to be incredibly important to our adventure. We named him Devito, because he was small and full of powerful rage.
Back in the mine, a poorly timed dark move from Team Yell managed to one hit kill Hubert, leaving us with our third fatality of the run, only two and a bit gyms deep into our quest. Before we had even had time to take in what had happened, we also lost Grover, leaving our team without an ice type too. We left the mine, and found a Koffing, who we caught and popped in the party as a replacement for Stunky. We were going to need a poison type or steel type to handle the Fairy gym, and all hopes were on this poison sphere evolving a top hat and sweeping that gym when the time arrived, hence Smog Boi joined the party.
Returning to Motorstoke, while we had just suffered some unfortunate losses, I felt there was very little I needed to worry about when facing the fire type gym leader. The fire gym has a unique format, where trainers fight and catch Pokémon inside the gym itself, which the Twitch chat watching the stream decided constituted a new area to catch one Pokémon, as decided at random. Of the three fire type creatures in the gym, I was randomly assigned Vulpix, a pure fire type, who finally gave us a decent option for dealing with future Steel or Ice type encounters we might have to face. We named Vulpix Nickitwo, in memory of our fallen Nickit from route two, and pledged that they would make the journey with us to the championships in Wyndon in Nickit’s place. If Nickit couldn’t see the finals herself, her new surrogate I had promised would do so in her place.
Kabu, the fire type gym leader, caused us very little challenge. Frogger swept the gym pretty much single handed, leading us to victory. We used a fire stone to evolve Nickitwo into a Ninetails, then left for the wild area to capture a new creature. We crossed the bridge into the northern Wild Area, encountering a Vanillite to pop on our team. While the lowest evolutionary stage of ice cream cone isn’t particularly strong, we were going to need it leveled as our replacement ice type if we were going to have any hope later fighting the Dragon type gym. Of course, we named him Mr Whippy.
After making it safely through the wild area, making it to the Dragon Gym town, getting through some plot, and progressing on our way towards Stow-On-Side, we ended up having an unavoidable and tragic loss that really hurt our overall team structure. In an unavoidable battle with a trainer whose team consisted of a Clefairy and a Clefable spamming Metronome, we were placed in the unenviable position of having absolutely zero clue what elemental type of attack could be thrown out from one turn to the next. With completely random attacks being thrown around, I swapped into Smog Boi, only to be hit with an out of the blue Power Gem wiping our only Poison Pokémon out instantly. Once again, we had an important element type missing from our team, with the fairy gym drawing in close.
Later on that same route, we did however pick up one of our team’s main stay additions, a ground type Hippopottas. This adorable little ground type hippo, once evolved, would be another member of our team with very strong bites and lots of health and defense, so we added them to our team ASAP. We nicknamed this adorable hippo Liamoira, after my Giff drunk space captain character from a recent Dice Funk D&D campaign I was a part of. Liamoira evolved basically right away, making me a lot more confident in using her in combat.
Before heading to the forth gym, the ghost type gym I had been fearing for quite some time, I evolved Frogger into an Intelleon, its beefy final stage evolution, and evolved Mr Whippy into Vanillish. We had a very tough battle with our rival Hop, whose flying water type Cramorant really caused us issues. We had no Electric type Pokémon on our team, a lot of creatures weak to water attacks, and our only viable grass type would be fine with water moves, but was liable to take massive damage from flying type moves. Additionally, Cramorant spitting out its fish when injured dealt more damage than anticipated, and made this rival fight a much closer affair than I would have liked it to be.
Jumping ahead to my fight with Allistair, the ghost type gym leader, we opened the fight with Lombro, whose water and grass type moves made a good counter for Yamask and its rock typing. I tried switching into Hippowdon and Captain Crunch during the fight, hoping they could sweep the rest of the gym with their dark type Crunch move, but both fell victim to Curse and Hex, dealing massive damage and leaving them in unsafe territory. I brought out a full health Frogger, assuming that they could tank a single hit and use their speed and special attack damage to progress the fight, but an unfortunately timed Critical hit took Frogger, our beautiful starter, out the picture in a single attack. I was devastated. My very first Pokémon was defeated, and suddenly it felt like not one creature on my team was safe. Losing Pokémon I cared about was a real possibility.
We eventually risked sending Captain crunch back in, who Dynamaxed up against Gigantimax Gengar. Captain Crunch managed to Crunch its way to victory, and losing Frogger didn’t leave us without a Water Type on our team, but the Ghost Type gym was a place of grief and loss, an unfortunate forecast of things to come. The ghost gym leader took my starter from me, and before our story ends he would take more from me.
With another gym out the way and dealt with, we returned to the Wild Area, and managed to luckily pick up a much needed steel type Pokémon, Bronzor. Already on the threshold of evolving, this steel type presented our best hope of defeating the imminently coming up Fairy type gym. BaeBlade joined the party, and very quickly evolved into a giant heavy slow bell with moves powered by how slow and heavy it is comparatively. Additionally, in the fairy forest, we picked up a Hattrem, who would eventually become a Fairy Psychic dual type to cover some spots in our team. They were named BabyYaga, and put to one side ready for when they would be needed.
Heading into the Fairy Gym, we put Bronzor up the top of our party, and just hoped for the best. Honestly, it went more smoothly than I could have hoped. We switched Pokémon around once or twice, but largely BaeBlade carried us through the gym, just smacking fairies much lighter than itself.
With the fairy gym out the way, we picked up Electrike, our first Electric type Pokémon of the run, and finally a good counter for flying water types like Cramorant. We nicknamed them Statik and continued onward ever closer to the end of our journey, of course after evolving them into a Manetric as soon as possible. On route seven we picked up a steel type Perserker named Iven, and on route 8 we picked up a Haunter, which we traded back and forth to evolve into a Gengar named HandyMan. We also trade evolved Devito into a Machamp, just in time to arrive in Circhester for the ice type gym.
The ice type gym also didn’t pose too much of a challenge to progression, thanks to Nickitwo the Ninetails burning through most of the gym with ease. Statik came in useful for any Ice types which were also Water types, such as the Lapras at the end of the gym, but otherwise it was a really simple easy gym for us to speed through.
On Route 9, we encountered our second self inflicted creature loss of the run, when a Kingler we encountered died to hail before I could capture it. However, as a consolation prize, I went to the Wild Area post gym, and encountered another Kingler, which this time was caught successfully and named Cookie, after the sound the Pokémon makes in the 4Kids anime dub.
Racing ahead towards the seventh gym, an almost exclusively dark type Gym, we put a lot of our hopes on Devito, a slow fighting type who could take big hits if needed, and would deal double damage if they attacked second, which they almost always did. While we made it to the gym leader without issue, we did lose a number of members of our team in the final fight. The gym leader Piers near the end of the fight used Obstagoon, who knew the move Counter, which doubles any damage taken and sends it back at the attacker. Basically, if we couldn’t one hit kill Obstagoon, we were going to take huge damage as punishment. We almost lost Liamoira to discovering that, leaving her on a mere 2HP, but Iven was not so lucky. Iven used Iron Head, which came so unbelievably close to knocking out the Obstagoon, but fell a tiny bit short and resulted in Iven being swept to their death very promptly. We survived the gym, but not without a casualty.
In the wild area, we picked up a Sneasel, evolved Hattrem to Hattena, evolved Mr Whippy to a Vanilluxe, and prepared to head over for the final gym standing in our way.
Thanks to having a fully evolved ice type Pokémon, and a series of Pokémon with other type advantages to pair my ice cream with, most of the two on two Dragon gym went pretty smoothly. The only issue was Duraladon, a dual Steel Dragon type, who was immune to being wiped out easily by my ice type moves. I foolishly didn’t swap Mr Whippy out, and they were demolished with a single blow, leaving Devito to get revenge and wrestle the skyscraper size dragon back down to the ground.
Heading back to the wild area post gym, I made the decision to catch my final wild area Pokémon at random from the Lake of Rage, a late game area full of powerful and rare level 60 Pokémon. My reasoning was if I only got one more creature, it should be the best one possible. The problem is, the Garbodor we ran into overpowered my team, and while we did successfully capture our new tanky poison type, we lost Statik, our only electric type, in the process. Garbodor was named Trash Goblin, because after they killed Statik that felt like the name they deserved.
Heading to Route 10, our final chance to catch a Pokémon before the league itself, we ended up encountering a new Vanillish. After much deliberation about duplicate creatures, we caught them and named them Whippy Jr, here to avenge the death of their father at the Dragon gym. And, with that, things were getting serious. We made it to Wyndon, the final town in the game, and braced ourselves for some tough fights ahead. There was only one town standing between me and victory.
First up, we had to rematch both of our friendly rivals, Hop and Marenie. Marenie went down pretty easily, as did Hop, potentially setting me up for overconfidence. These first two fights in the championship had come and gone without a single fatality, and with only a handful of fights left in the game, victory felt tantalizingly within my grasp.
We took down most of the Pokémon in Rose Tower with ease, using Nickitwo to burn through the near exclusively steel type tower of trainers. Oleena at the top of the tower proved more difficult, with her mix of elemental types causing us some trouble. Up against her Gigantimax Garbodor at the end of the fight, I foolishly miscalculated the strength of a fire type move from Nickitwo, and stayed in the fight one turn too long thinking I could take the mountain of trash out with a single attack. It held on by a slither, and took Nickitwo out in the process. At least I kept my earlier promise, Nickitwo got to see the league with her own eyes, something the original Nickit had robbed from them.
And with that, it was time. There were four gym leaders to rematch, one villain to defeat, one legendary to fight, and then the champion. We were down to six actual trainers left to defeat. Victory seemed tantalizingly close. I started to let myself believe that, in a Nuzlocke where I had taken on every optional difficulty rule possible, I might actually see the glory of my day as the league champion.
My team was set, and I felt confident they were balanced in such a way they could handle the full league without any switching required. We had BaeBlade the Bronzong, Trash Goblin the Garbodor, Lombro the Ludicolo, Whippy Jr the Vanilluxe, Liamoira the Hippowdon, and Captain crunch the Dreadnaw. It was the best spread of elemental types possible, we had our moves set up ready to go, and these were the creatures that seemed most reliably able to pull us out of tough spots.
First up, we had our rematch with Bede, the former arsehole rival now turned Fairy Gym Leader in Training. We lead with BaeBlade, hoping our steel type moves could once again solo the fairy leader, but luck was not on our side. A few Pokémon deep, we switched into Captain Crunch hoping that Crunch would be a good counter for Fairy Psychic type combo Pokémon, and a safer choice than using our poison type Garbodor. Up against Gigantimax Hatterene, we managed to pull out a smooth enough win without any loses, but the match was far closer than I would have hoped seeing as how I had such type advantage on paper going in.
Next was the rematch with Nessa, made all the more complicated by Statik’s unfortunate premature death catching Garbodor. We had Ludicolo, a grass type, but they were undoubtedly going to struggle against Pokémon like Pelipper, with their partial flying typing. Nessa’s Golisopod proved to be a huge challenge, because if it ever drops below half health it automatically switches itself out. This made it hard to hit it with two strong attacks to take it out, but also cause us to multiple times end up placed into type matchups which we were no longer prepared to handle. We ended up taking a really strong critical hit attack from Golisopod late in the match, with Lombro out and poised to fight the final creature the next turn, and lost Lombro in a single attack. This put us in a really bad position, because we no longer had any reliable and tested counter for water type Pokémon. We got through the rest of the fight without any additional fatalities, but the cracks in my team composition were starting to show. We no longer had our only Pokémon with built in recovery, a Pokémon that had carried us through countless matches, and things were getting worrying.
Then, it was time for our rematch with Allistair, the ghost leader who had previously robbed us of our starter Pokémon. Little did I know it at the time, but this fight was going to go very, very badly for me.
I opened with Captain Crunch, whose dark type move Crunch I hoped would carry me through most of these ghost types. Things went okay at first, with Dusknoir going down in a couple of attacks, but I vastly underestimated the potential harm done by Polteagiest, the teapot ghost. Turns out Polteagiest has grass type moves, not just ghost moves, and grass type moves are really really really effective against water rock type Pokémon. Captain Crunch went down in a single attack, and it became clear how vulnerable our team was by my having not levelled them more.
Whippy Jr took out the teapot pretty safely, but had to be swapped out when faced by the fire ghost Chandellure. I sent in in Liamoira, my only remaining Pokémon with a decent dark type move, but my damage output wasn’t enough. I realistically needed to be one hit killing Pokémon when I had type advantage, but needing to set off second attacks was causing me to take too much incremental damage over time to my only big damage dealers. I pulled Liamoira out the battle with only a single HP remaining, hoping she could be saved to fight another fight, and swapped into BaeBlade, who started hemorrhaging health to a Cursola. I switched into Whippy Jr, hoping I could kill the ghost with Sheer Cold, a one hit kill attack. I failed, losing Whippy Jr in the process.
Gourdon, who had barely been used since their capture, came out and finished off Cursola, which put us in what I thought was a decent position. We were up against a Gigantimax Gengar, but I reasoned they were just as weak to my ghost moves as i was to theirs, so I kept my ghost in, and dynamaxed them too. Big mistake. Gengar was faster, and in a single attack my ghost pumpkin was dead, along with my ability to Dynamax Pokémon. I wish I had not wasted my Dynamax on Gourdon, but that’s the thing about hindsight. If I’d resisted dynamaxing I could have used Shadow Sneak, which always goes first, dealing a small amount of damage which would likely have made all the difference and let me win this fight with a few survivors.
I then switched into Garbodor, who had a pretty decent psychic type move and full health. I managed to get off one psychic attack before Gengar disabled that move, and locked me in battle unable to Switch out. I was trapped, and unable to do much damage, and things were looking bad.
Slowly, I chipped away at Gengar, using Poison type moves that were super ineffective. I managed to get Gengar down to a tiny slither of red health, with three Pokémon left in my party, and I thought I might just be able to scrape a win together and rebuild my team before the next fight, but things didn’t go that way.
Garbodor wasn’t fast enough to get an attack out before Gengar, so Garbodor died. We only had BaeBlade and Liamoira left, and I only needed one of them to get off one attack of any kind for us to progress. Both are slow Pokémon, and as i saw it neither of them had a chance to get an attack out before being killed. It all seemed hopeless. I sent out BaeBlade first. That was entirely the wrong move. I completely forgot that sending out Liamoira sets up a standstorm automatically as her special ability, which would have dealt enough damage to kill Gengar without needing to be fast enough to launch an attack.
If I had sent out Liamoira first, she would have died, but Gengar would have died before I sent out BaeBlade, giving me the win. I foolishly sent them out the other way around, meaning that I died before the sandstorm damage could take out Gengar. My Nuzlocke challenge ended with Allistair, the same trainer who had taken out my starter returning to demolish my whole team and end my run.
Now, I recognize that i could have leveled up more before the league, or made slightly better choices about Pokémon turn order, or even just been less rules harsh on myself, and I probably could have seen this Nuzlocke run through to the end of it. However, I am glad I played it the way I did, loses and all. I found a brand new appreciation for Pokémon species I never use in my normal playthroughs of the series, I felt my loses, I felt my victories, and I am proud of how far I made it. I was within three trainers of a complete run, which while not yet a victory, did make me feel confident that next time, I might be more lucky. I learned lessons, I came to better understand how the game is played, and I got to go on an adventure unlike any other I have had with the series.
I don’t know when I’ll do another Nuzlocke run of a Pokémon game, probably not for quite a while as the stress levels they induce probably shaved years off my life, but I know I’ll do another one eventually, and next time, I’m going all the way to the top.