The Nuzlocke Run

With the release of a brand new Pokémon game, it’s time to load up on Potions and Pokeballs and jump back into the world of trying to Catch ‘em All. Right?

As much as I love the Pokémon games, Black and White saw the total number of Pokémon jump to 649. That’s a lot of exploring, capturing, training and trading if you are trying to complete your Pokedex. This problem is further accentuated by the fact that it is not possible to find many Pokémon in the wild and must either be traded from friends, or transferred from older games by way of an extremely convoluted process. If you’ve been playing Pokémon for a number of years and have a good understanding of the underlying mechanics, then the single player story probably poses little challenge for you by now. So if you can’t be bothered trying to catch ‘em all, and the single player campaign doesn’t hold a challenge, what can you do to mix things up? Over the years I have come across a number of ways of playing that put the challenge back into Pokémon and I’ll be outlining three of them here. They are the Nuzlocke Run, Mono-type teams and BST (Base Stat Total) Restricted teams.

What started as a web-comic series has since blossomed into one of the largest sub-communities in Pokémon. A Nuzlocke run has 2 basic rules. You can only capture the first Pokémon you encounter in any given route/cave/city. No second chances, if you defeat it, or it runs (a la Abra with Teleport), or you run out of pokeballs, then you cannot capture anything on that route. The second rule is any Pokémon that faints is considered dead and must be released or permanently boxed. There are some other rules that people use depending on their level of sanity (like only using items that are found on the ground, no buying) but the main rule that everyone follows is to nickname all the Pokémon you catch. Doing so creates a much closer bond between trainer and team. The rules force trainers into using Pokémon that they normally wouldn’t consider, and the threat of them being killed at any point really ramps up the tension. You never know when a random critical hit could mean you lose the friend you’ve raised more than 50 levels. Don’t laugh, I’ve had it happen, it’s the worst feeling. Personally, I have attempted a few Nuzlocke runs, most of them ending in a wipeout. The Nuzlocke community has exploded over the last year or two. Many fans of the original comics have created their own, chronicling their own stories – victories and defeats.

As the name implies, monotype runs have you building a team where all 6 of your Pokémon must be the same type. Dual type Pokémon are allowed as long as one of the two is the type of your run. For example, Magnezone could be used as part of a mono-electric or mono-steel team. Monotype teams are again a good way of trying out Pokémon that you would normally disregard. The trick is to pick a game where there is a good mix of Pokémon of your preferred type, and if you can manage it, one where there are no gym leaders/elite 4 members that are super effective against your type. The only monotype run I have done was a mono-steel in Pokémon Platinum which worked really well. There were enough steel types that I was able to build a good mixed team of Empoleon, Wormadam, Lucario, Bastiodon, Magnezone and Bronzong. Another good combination is a mono-fighting run of Black and White. There were a ton of good fighting types introduced in Gen V, such as Conkeldurr, Scrafty, Mienshao and of course the Musketeer trio.

BST runs are one thing I have yet to attempt. The basic premise is to use the “worst of the worst” Pokémon (stat wise). You can set a restriction on you team’s total base stats or a restriction for every Pokémon on your team. Having a look on Bulbapedia (where I get all my poke-info) if you have a restriction of 400 stat points for each Pokémon, looking only at fully evolved Pokémon you are looking at using thing like Delibird, Beedrill, Luvdisc and Farfetch’d. The problem with this style of run is finding a full team that fit your restriction without hacking different Pokémon into the game. This can be avoided by using emulators and ROMs, or different hack version of a game where all 649 Pokémon are available. The other way of doing a BST run is by having a team wide Stat restriction. Say for example you have a team restriction of 2800 BST. You can have a couple of powerhouses such as Dragonite and Tyranitar (600 BST each). But then the remainder of your team has to be from the lower end of the stat scales, such as Spinda and Mawile.

Those of us in TAY have joined together to bring you our own stories. When the subject of Nuzlocke runs came up a few weeks ago, we decided to band together and do a simultaneous run of HeartGold and SoulSilver. The results were mixed. Some of us have proceeded well, with only a few losses. Others have done… not so well. Our stories can be found here. With the release of Black and White 2, most of us have put our Nuzlocke’s on hold, but they will hopefully be returned to in the near future.

Follow NovaCascade on Twitter.


  1. jimuhsien · · Reply

    I’m doing a pick the cool looking ones run. It’s where I pick the coolest looking Pokemon for my team.
    Rules are: 1.Team must be well balanced, cos I don’t want to make it too hard for myself.
    2. Must be Pokemon I have never used before, just cos.

    1. NovaCascade · · Reply

      Yeah there’s all sorts of ways you can restrict yourself and make things interesting. Who are you using?

      1. jimuhsien · · Reply

        ground/dark croc, water starter, Eelektross, fighting/steel jackal, altaria (place holder), Magmar (looking for goddam magmarizer cos I dont have one in gen5),
        Also, I was kidding, I always play this way, for fun.

  2. Dammit that does it.
    I’m restarting me W2 run and doing it NUZLOCKE

  3. Just started a Nuzlocke run myself this morning, but I’m taking it back a few generations. I’m using FireRed on the GBA.

    So far I’ve got Bulbous Oar, the Bulbasaur, Longjohn the Weedle and Nick Fury the Mankey.

    1. Bulbous whore didn’t fit?

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