Challenge 7,000 Grains of Sand: Advancements in the Battle Institute

Last October, I finally picked up Black 2, leaving generation 4 (and I guess 8 as well) as the extent of the "memory hole" in the franchise to which I have no firsthand experience. At times, it's felt like exploring a well-trodden land that thousands of other players have already charted, but even so, there's been room to find things that Bulbapedia hadn't yet documented (such as Pokestar Studios scripts being a usable way to invoke the impossible move selection glitch). There's also been a little place called the Battle Institute, which I've already experienced in X and OR, the big difference is that this time there's a medal that gives me reason to play through the mode 50 times (hey, if it's not going to give BP and items like it does in the next generation, at least...ooh, shiny!). And if I'm going to play through it 50 times, damned if I don't decipher how it works along the way.

Conventional wisdom holds that the Battle Institute is a facility that essentially asks you to speedrun 5 battles, as there's a cost for each passing turn and the points you get on most turns generally don't add up to enough to offset it. As such, and with this being the generation most known for infinite weather and accessible setters, the first thing that came to mind was a sand team with a Choice Band sweeper to blow past as much as possible, and maybe the sand will have some utility in breaking sashes or whatever. I was getting a few 6200-6500 runs while hoping for the perfect combination of opponents to get 5 easy sweeps, but as I went over the scoring system, things weren't adding up.

Spoiler alert: It turns out the accounts of the scoring system there, which we've had for 10 years, were wrong all along.

I don't know how it crept into the formula, or who first hypothesized its existence, but there's always been a term there that didn't make much sense: "30 more points if an opposing Pokémon took its attack turn that battle, or 15 more points if no opposing Pokémon took its attack turn that battle." If I had to guess, I would say that term, in that form, was imagined up by someone who decided to experiment around with some quick'n'dirty hackmons, like a Ninjask with No Guard, Sheer Cold, and Protect. Something where they're only using one move all the time, unless they wanted to be gracious enough and "let the opponent have a turn".

Well then, if that isn't really what was going on, it was time to delve in and trace the symbols that it's really counting, and how they're used. Turns out, the counter that's been mistakenly described this way for the past decade is really counting the number of distinct moveslots each of your Pokemon has used at least once in the current round, and awarding 15 points for each of them. In a doubles match, if everyone gets a turn in and manages to click all four of their moves once before the battle ends, that term is worth 240 points, more than enough to make up for the cost of each passing turn. That's a significant enough reward to merit reworking how I want the team to operate.

Now that I knew how to make the most of the scoring system at last, it became apparent that not just 6000 points for master rank, or 6500 like I had been getting, but 7000 points was feasible. Would there be any reward for it? Hell no, not even an eighth star. But as much as anything else in that game was worth doing, I might as well bring the plan to fruition.

Let's meet the team.

:excadrill: Jabbermock (Excadrill) @ Expert Belt
Ability: Sand Rush
Adamant Nature
IVs: 28/31/25/16/24/31
EVs: 56/252/150/0/0/52 (191 HP, 115 Speed)
- Earthquake
- Rock Slide
- Iron Head
- Protect

This was obviously always going to be the centerpiece of the team, dealing more damage than anyone else no matter if it's holding Choice Band or rolling back to a smaller item that gives it the flexibility to run Protect. I picked a speed tier that I liked, beating scarf Pinsir and Typhlosion and falling short of Garchomp, but realistically if a scarf Garchomp shows up, it's either locking into Earthquake and forcing my hand, or I'm starting over anyway. The rest goes into physical defense, to encourage physical users to aim at Tyranitar instead (though some of the stronger attacks out there, like Sawk's Close Combat, can KO either lead which makes them less predictable, and more annoying). Not that "spamming Earthquake" or any other move is going to score well at Institute, but it's designed to be able to EQ at least once without worrying about causing friendly fire to the teammate, barring something like a priority move headed Tyranitar's way.

:tyranitar: Ravishelle (Tyranitar) @ Air Balloon
Ability: Sand Stream
Adamant Nature
IVs: 25/19/26/8/24/31
EVs: 148/92/24/0/210/36 (191 HP, 86 Speed)
- Low Kick
- Smack Down
- Crunch
- Protect

The enabler who helps Excadrill run rampant, of course (emphasis on "run"). It gets to be a decently hard hitter in its own right, and its speed is calibrated to pip stuff like Walrein that Excadrill can't bring down on its own, or Glaceon in case its attention is diverted elsewhere. Most of its bulk is devoted to the special side, both because sand amplifies that side even more, and so that I can make the AI's decision-making more predictable: all else being equal, I want them to figure "Physical attacks go to Tyranitar, special attacks go to Excadrill" to get a better read on how I'm going to arrange my switch-ins.

:sigilyph: Iconoclass (Sigilyph) @ Flame Orb
Ability: Magic Guard
Timid Nature
IVs: 30/23/26/12/15/31
EVs: 104/0/90/56/80/180 (160 HP, 154 Speed)
- Air Slash
- Psychic
- Psycho Shift
- Protect

I didn't want to stack weaknesses with the traditional Sandstorm types, but taking chip damage every turn after a switch-in and losing points isn't good either, so enter the fortunately-positioned Sigilyph. It can switch in on those juicy Fighting moves aimed Tyranitar's way and score some resist points to offset the damage, or if someone else looks inclined to use Earthquake or something, it has the flexibility to take Excadrill's place too. I wanted it to be able to hit at least reasonably hard with a couple special moves to change things up, and as an emergency measure to nerf potential physical attackers, it was down to Trick vs. Psycho Shift for one spot. Trick was easier to get, doesn't have that miss chance, and has the marginal bonus of possibly taking away an item like Brightpowder, maybe even picking up a Sitrus Berry or something. However, it's a turn slower at getting started, with the burn not setting in until the end of the turn and chip damage not until a turn after that. Given that in the situations where it's important to inflict the burn, I generally want to do so quickly, and Sigilyph's decent speed would be pretty well wasted if there's a turn delay to make that happen, guess I had to track down a Natu and feed that into the breeding chain after all. It's not quite Randbats Sigilyph, but under the circumstances, it feels close enough.

:medicham: Lackadoozy (Medicham) @ Leftovers
Ability: Telepathy
Impish Nature
IVs: 28/19/18/10/16/7
EVs: 200/4/114/0/192/0 (159 HP, 88 Speed)
- Fake Out
- Fire Punch
- Helping Hand
- Protect

Contrary to what Medicham is normally known for, this set doesn't hit hard at all. Fire Punch is really only useful for hitting stuff like Forretress, having a desperation chance to fish for burns if Sigilyph's out of position, or for running up score by checking boxes, and other than that it has three priority moves so the speed is almost completely cosmetic. Fake Out only does what it's always done, but it's an important enough aspect to be worth the hassle of making sure I picked up a female from the hidden grotto so the ability can pass down, along with the move from a Mienfoo.

Excadrill, Tyranitar, and Medicham all have HP totals that are 1 less than a point at which burn/poison/whatever damage ticks up. Chip damage isn't an issue for Sigilyph, but I did want to make sure to get the team up to a total of exactly 701 HP, so that 7 HP missing rounds down to 0%, 14 rounds down to 1%, and so on.

After a couple trial runs to get loose with the team in its current state, it was time to go for it, noting every little event that happened to see if I couldn't account for every last point along the journey. My initial estimate came in slightly too high compared to the final result, an issue relating to Protect and moves that would be subject to type matchup bonuses if they had gone through, but after double-checking and finding that to case, it's done. Imagine yourself there, watching the spectacle from the Nimbasa riverfront, if you like. Much more interesting stuff than at those sporting stadiums.

In Round 1 there are 20 possible opposing trainers, taken from the second batch that gets staggered into the normal lines and all with IV tiers of straight 7. Hodgman and Saber have very small sand-focused rosters, Diplo and Jaguar have even smaller rosters with rain and hail, and all 16 of the others are completely fungible, with identical rosters to each other.

ROUND 1 vs. Clerk Micah

Micah sent out Cottonee and Lampent :cottonee: :lampent:

[Start of Turn 1] -10

Right away we see a difference in the manner the Institute should be approached, compared to Subway/Maison strategies. Lampent is weak enough that Excadrill can KO it not just with Earthquake, but with a non-STAB, spread Rock Slide too. Unless, of course, Rock Slide misses. At the Institute, it's a series of five battles and that's it; we're not trying to go all-out and minimize the chances that anything could go wrong to the extent that a string of several hundred wins in a row is considered feasible at all, so using a 90% move in preference to an alternative isn't so bad. If it misses and Lampent takes the KO, it's not a big deal to just start over. Compounding this is the incentive system put out by the Institute, as previously discussed. If I use Earthquake here, there's a +1 for being super effective on Lampent, but it's offset by a -2 with Cottonee resisting it (in case of a spread move, the type matchup points on both sides apply). Rock Slide, meanwhile, gets +1 from Lampent but is neutral on Cottonee, so no point loss for that. Furthermore, in a game mode where the goal is to use every move once, having the more powerful Earthquake still in reserve is valuable, compared to if I had to try and find room for Rock Slide (not much value, given that this is battle 1, but still). Let's go for it, and see if Cottonee pops up with a Prankster Cotton Guard to let it survive the first turn...

Excadrill used Rock Slide, hits both, Lampent fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 86
Tyranitar used Crunch, Cottonee fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] 181
Micah sent out Vanillish and Minccino :vanillish: :minccino:

[Start of Turn 2] 171

Vanillish/Minccino, huh. We can't have Vanillish setting Hail, so let's just wipe it out and get another couple of moves in.

Tyranitar used Protect [New Move +15] 186
Excadrill used Iron Head on Vanillish, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 282
Minccino used U-turn on Tyranitar, protected
Minccino took 7 from sand (111/118)

[Start of Turn 3] 272

This is pretty close to an ideal situation. The last opponent has been isolated, and the goal now is to try and "farm" points by looking for opportunities to check off as many moves as possible, while they do very little damage in return. With only 16 moves on the team, there's a limit on how long I can keep doing this, but for now there are still two team members who haven't used any of their moves at all. Let's start by phasing them in--it's too bad both members of the backline are part Psychic, and neutral to U-turn instead of being able to resist it.

Tyranitar switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 277
Excadrill used Protect [New Move +15] 292
Minccino went underground for Dig
Minccino took 7 from sand (104/118)
Medicham took 9 from sand and immediately healed it back with Leftovers (this happens on every turn where Medicham is out, and won't be noted for future turns)

[Start of Turn 4] 282

Dig, huh. I can be pretty sure they didn't aim that at Tyranitar, who still has its balloon intact, so...thanks for the free points! Note that because we only have to use moves, not necessarily hit with them, Medicham will gladly take points for using Fake Out even though Minccino will dodge it by being underground. The same applies if I were to use Fake Out next turn instead, when it would obviously fail.

Excadrill switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 287
Medicham used Fake Out, failed [New Move +15] 302
Minccino used Dig on Sigilyph, immune [Take Immune +5] 307
Minccino took 7 from sand (97/118)
Sigilyph was burned by Flame Orb

[Start of Turn 5] 297

Sigilyph used Protect [New Move +15] 312
Medicham used Protect [New Move +15] 327
Minccino used U-turn on Sigilyph, protected
Minccino took 7 from sand (90/118)

[Start of Turn 6] 317

Medicham used Helping Hand [New Move +15] 332
Sigilyph used Psycho Shift, dodged [New Move +15] 347
Minccino used U-turn on Sigilyph (133/160)
Minccino took 7 from sand (83/118)

[Start of Turn 7] 337

Silly Psycho Shift and its 90% accuracy here. No biggie though, the lack of burn only cost about 2 points' worth of extra damage. In the mean time, here's another way to stall for time and use moves without getting premature KOs: attacking into Telepathy! Attacking into teammates doesn't trigger point bonuses or penalties regardless of what the type matchup would be, and ability-based immunities don't factor into those bonuses either with the sole exception of Levitate (as part of factoring in effects that cause a Pokemon to be ungrounded). Just something that's good to know before you go on a wild goose chase, pursuing an avenue that isn't fruitful after all. You know, like believing the Battle Institute has been a pure speedrun mode for the last 10 years.

Sigilyph used Air Slash on Medicham, failed [New Move +15] 352
Minccino went underground for Dig
Medicham used Fire Punch, failed [New Move +15] 367
Minccino took 7 from sand (76/118)

[Start of Turn 8] 357

Another Dig, to make Fire Punch whiff for no damage? And a ready-made switch-in all set for it? This is just too good!

Medicham switched to Tyranitar [Switch +5] 362
Sigilyph used Psychic, failed [New Move +15] 377
Minccino used Dig on Tyranitar, immune [Take Immune +5] 382
Minccino took 7 from sand (69/118)

[Start of Turn 9] 372

That missed Psycho Shift, and dodged Fire Punch, may turn out to be a blessing in disguise after all. As it stands, Minccino has taken seven turns of sand damage and nothing else. Could it seriously survive a Low Kick along with an eighth turn, giving time to squeeze one more move in? It's only 20, the damage rolls say 44-54, so unless this is a critical, we're golden! Of course, Minccino could use U-turn and get a King's Rock flinch, dealing about 7 points worth of damage and depriving me of the 16 points from using Low Kick. We'll have to take a shot...

Sigilyph switched to Excadrill [Switch +5] 377
Minccino used U-turn on Excadrill (178/191) [Take Resist +2] 379
Tyranitar used Low Kick [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] 395
Minccino took 7 from sand

[Start of Turn 10] 385

Cool. Not much else we can so, so let's finish this. Tyranitar won't have time to use Smack Down, so it's important to use its turn for a switch just to get some points out of that action.

Tyranitar switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 390
Excadrill used Earthquake, Minccino fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] [Victory +1000] 1485

Missing health: :excadrill:13, :tyranitar:0, :sigilyph:27, :medicham:0 = 40, -5%

Final score for the round: 1480

1480 is a near-ideal result, barring something like a quadruple-Regenerator core that gets blessed with a fortunate enough matchup that they can keep switching endlessly against opponents who aren't strong enough to break them, scoring lots of resist points along the way. I don't expect to keep up a pace like that for four more battles, but it's a great start.

Round 2 has a pool of 50 possible trainers, the ones who appear from the beginning on the super lines. These trainers use exclusively Set 1s, and have an IV tier of 19.

ROUND 2 vs. Waiter Lennart

Lennart sent out Steelix and Krookodile :steelix: :krookodile:

[Start of Turn 1] -10

No Intimidate popup, fortunately. Even without the weakened Attack, Excadrill can't KO either of these leads on its own, but it can soften them up enough for Tyranitar to chip in and finish off either one. Looking at their movesets, I expect Steelix will probably want to go for Curse, though it might pick Stealth Rock instead. That's not great, but it's not terrible either--Sigilyph doesn't care about rocks at all, and Medicham/Excadrill both resist it, so leaving it alive for another turn isn't the worst thing. As for Krookodile, I doubt it wants to pick Bulldoze standing next to a Ground-weak Steelix...what I'm really worried about is Counter, dealing way too much damage to Excadrill and picking up a known Moxie boost. (Unlike Maison and Tree, the Subway's random ability selection is limited to slots 1 and 2, with no chance of the HA, so neither Krookodile nor anything else you face has more than two possible abilities to choose from.) Let's cut that possibility down, then.

Excadrill used Earthquake [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] 6
Krookodile used Bulldoze, Tyranitar immune, Excadrill 107/191 [Take Immune +5] 11
Tyranitar used Low Kick on Krookodile, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 107
Steelix used Curse
Lennart sent out Chandelure :chandelure:

[Start of Turn 2] 97

Well now, this certainly qualifies as urgent. Excadrill had its speed cut but still comfortably outspeeds Chandelure 152 to 115. Still, that thing is way too dangerous to be allowed to stay standing. Unlike Lampent from the last battle, Chandelure doesn't crumple to a Rock Slide either, so I have to go ahead and duplicate a move, missing out on 15 points for a new move, to dispatch the problem. It doesn't matter what Tyranitar does in the mean time, but since it still gets points for "attacking the darkness", might as well.

Excadrill used Earthquake, Steelix and Chandelure both fainted [2x Give Super +2] [2x KO +160] 259
Tyranitar used Crunch on no target, failed [New Move +15] 274
Lennart sent out Ampharos :ampharos:

[Start of Turn 3] 264

Isolating Ampharos, then. Ampharos can barely touch Excadrill, so I doubt it's going to be targeting in that direction, meanwhile I can check off Protect and stamp out whatever it was planning to do.

Excadrill switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 269
Tyranitar used Protect [New Move +15] 284
Ampharos used Thunder Wave on Tyranitar, protected
Ampharos took 11 from sand (169/180)

[Start of Turn 4] 274

The nice thing about the Fake Out turn is it's a chance to get Sigilyph in without getting Thunder Waved on the switch, or maybe hit with a Charge Beam. Medicham might get paralyzed by Static, but if that happens, I don't really care.

Tyranitar switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 279
Medicham used Fake Out [New Move +15] 294
Ampharos flinched
Ampharos took 11 from sand

[Start of Turn 5] 284

And neither of the back line have used Protect yet this round, so while we have a completely free turn...

Sigilyph used Protect [New Move +15] 299
Medicham used Protect [New Move +15] 314
Ampharos used Discharge, protected
Ampharos took 11 from sand

[Start of Turn 6] 304

Ah, so Ampharos prefers the spread move over boosting up with Charge Beam. Sigilyph takes too much damage from that to justify leaving in to try and check off more moves, but Medicham should be fine.

Sigilyph switched to Excadrill [Switch +5] 309
Medicham used Fire Punch [New Move +15] 324
Ampharos used Discharge, Excadrill immune, Medicham 102/159 [Take Immune +5] 329
Ampharos took 11 from sand

[Start of Turn 7] 319

Just one more move for Medicham to check off. Even if I'm not getting any use out of it, that's still 15 points.

Medicham used Helping Hand [New Move +15] 334
Excadrill used Protect [New Move +15] 349
Ampharos used Discharge, critical on Medicham, who fainted [Own KO -80] 269
Ampharos took 11 from sand
I sent out Sigilyph

[Start of Turn 8] 259

Bleh. Well, those things happen sometimes. It was a risk, gaining 15 points in exchange for taking what I expected about 8 points of damage, but the extra damage turned it into a loss of about 90. And the insult on top is that because Excadrill protected on the other side of the move, Protect takes precedence and I don't get a Take Immune bonus. Gotta shake it off now, and the main question remaining is...can Ampharos survive an Iron Head so that the battle lasts long enough to get a Sigilyph move in too? It's taken five turns of damage for 55, and then a Fake Out and a Fire Punch from Medicham. The damage ranges on those are...15-18 from Fake Out, 27-32 from Fire Punch, so Ampharos has at least 75 HP left. Then for Iron Head the calc is 58-69, so unless it's another critical, we're good. Or maybe it is, in which case it's a loss of 2 points. The alternative...I still haven't checked off Rock Slide either, but now that it's only single target, that's 73-82 and a lot more likely to KO. It could also miss, in which case Psychic alone isn't enough damage, and Sigilyph certainly takes damage from the return strike. In an instance where we can borrow from Subway strategy, the safe play is the clear call here.

Excadrill used Iron Head [New Move +15] [Give Resist -2] 272
Sigilyph used Psychic, Ampharos fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] [Victory +1000] 1367

Missing health: :excadrill:84, :tyranitar:0, :sigilyph:0, :medicham:159 = 243, -34%

Final score for the round: 1333
Cumulative score: 2813

Obviously not a great result there with the faint, but it was the first time I had recorded a battle that included a faint and still managed to score even 1300. The average pace was still above the 1400 clip I needed to make 7000 by the end, which was the only reason I didn't call it quits at this point and start over.

Round 3 narrows the trainer selection down to 20 possibilities, the second batch that get unleashed into the super lines. They all use exclusively Set 2s, have an IV tier of 23, and some of them have theme teams, like the Nursery Aides March (Starters), Hazel (Eevees), and Polka (Dragons).

ROUND 3 vs. Worker Earwin

Earwin sent out Tyranitar and Claydol :tyranitar: :claydol:

[Start of Turn 1] -10

Claydol2 is an extremely passive set with lots of Cosmic Power spam, and I probably want to isolate it for last even from turn 1. On the other side, Tyranitar is pretty harmless right now, but gets less so if I switch against it or let it start setting up the two DDs it needs to outspeed Excadrill. I can OHKO it with either Iron Head or spread Earthquake, but Earthquake while Claydol is floating around carries a big 10-point penalty. Instead, at a cost of only 2 points, I can knock it down to the ground just to free up the ability to use Earthquake on a future turn without taking that penalty.

Excadrill used Iron Head on the opposing Tyranitar, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 86
Claydol used Cosmic Power (+1)
My Tyranitar used Smack Down on Claydol [New Move +15] [Give Resist -2] 99
Earwin went out Armaldo :armaldo:

[Start of Turn 2] 89

Armaldo...Excadrill can OHKO that, but only by using Iron Head again. Alternatively, Earthquake + Rock Slide is a 2-hitter assuming the Rock Slide hits. I figure Armaldo probably wants to X-Scissor Tyranitar, which is easy enough to sop up with Protect, and predictable enough that I can afford to spread it out over two turns so I'm not giving up the New Move bonus.

Tyranitar used Protect [New Move +15] 104
Excadrill used Earthquake [New Move +15] 119
Armaldo used Rock Polish
Claydol used Toxic on Tyranitar, protected

[Start of Turn 3] 109

Fine, Armaldo now sits at 204 speed, but it's still slower, so it's time to roll the d10 and hope the 0 doesn't show up. If it does, that's probably worth killing the run and starting over, especially after a faint in the last battle, unless Armaldo feels the need to outspeed and goes straight to +4. In that case I'll go ahead and have Tyranitar go for Crunch into its slot for a chance to finish off, and if it turns out not to be necessary, then I even get another super point in the bargain!

Excadrill used Rock Slide, hit both, Armaldo fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] [Give Resist -2] 203
Claydol flinched
Tyranitar used Crunch on Claydol, who ate Sitrus Berry [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] 219
Earwin sent out Gliscor :gliscor:

[Start of Turn 4] 209

Gliscor2...that's a double dance, Baton Pass set with only Acrobatics for damage. At least the BP is useless at this stage in the match. Against this lineup, it's unlikely to want to attack just yet, but it is something I want to work on weakening. Better to switch Sigilyph in first, in case Claydol goes for Toxic again and I can Psycho Shift that for a faster clock than burn.

Tyranitar switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 214
Excadrill used Protect [New Move +15] 229
Gliscor used Agility
Claydol used Toxic on Sigilyph, dodged
Sigilyph was burned by Flame Orb

[Start of Turn 5] 219

Well, at least I'm sure Claydol doesn't want to go for Toxic again this turn. We never got a chance to see if Armaldo wanted a second speed boost after trailing 230-204, guess we'll get a chance to see if Gliscor wants it now at 230-222.

Excadrill switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 224
Sigilyph used Protect [New Move +15] 239
Gliscor used Agility
Claydol used Cosmic Power (+2)

[Start of Turn 6] 229

Excellent, now we're in position to stick the burn on Gliscor without Medicham having to take Acrobatics. Hopefully. Gliscor, of course, can have Sand Veil, and if it rolled that ability with 50% odds and gets the 20% miss chance on either Fake Out or Psycho Shift (or the natural Psycho Shift miss chance) then it'll be less ideal. At least Gliscor still has its Liechi Berry and it'll only be 55 power.

Medicham used Fake Out on Gliscor [New Move +15] 244
Gliscor flinched
Sigilyph used Psycho Shift on Gliscor [New Move +15] 259
Claydol used Cosmic Power (+3)
Gliscor took 22 from burn

[Start of Turn 7] 249

Cool, now it's time to start chipping that thing down before it gets out of hand.

Medicham used Protect [New Move +15] 264
Gliscor used Swords Dance
Sigilyph used Psychic on Gliscor [New Move +15] 279
Claydol used Cosmic Power (+4)
Gliscor took 22 from burn

[Start of Turn 8] 269

Swords Dance cancels out the burn, more or less, and Gliscor is still above 25% to avoid the Liechi (but, eyeballing the health bar, not by much). Assuming Air Slash hits, it'll deal at least 57 which looks to be enough to end it and stop Gliscor from rampaging for too much damage. Since I'm trying to work in a spot for Air Slash anyway, might as well be here.

Medicham switched to Excadrill [Switch +5] 274
Gliscor used Acrobatics on Excadrill (174/191) [Take Resist +2] 276
Sigilyph used Air Slash on Gliscor, who fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] 371
Claydol used Cosmic Power (+5)

[Start of Turn 9] 361

Now Claydol is facing Excadrill + Sigilyph again, and I'm pretty sure that means the sixth Cosmic Power coming up. But I don't want it to go away just yet, there's still a bit more farming to be done.

Excadrill switched to Tyranitar [Switch +5] 366
Sigilyph switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 371
Claydol used Cosmic Power (+6)

[Start of Turn 10] 361

I don't know who Claydol wants to hit with Toxic first, but both of these Pokemon still have moves they need to use up before it's too late, and the points from using them will outweigh the minor chip damage from poison.

Medicham used Helping Hand [New Move +15] 376
Claydol used Toxic on Medicham
Tyranitar used Low Kick [New Move +15] [Give Resist -2] 389
Medicham took 9 from poison (150/159)

[Start of Turn 11] 379

Sure. Tyranitar's checked off all its moves now, while Medicham still has one to go, so this way I know who's going to be the target this time, and I can score the points for an immunity switch-in along with everything else.

Tyranitar switched to Excadrill [Switch +5] 384
Claydol used Toxic on Excadrill, immune [Take Immune +5] 389
Medicham used Fire Punch [New Move +15] 404
Medicham took 18 from poison (132/159)

[Start of Turn 12] 394

Perfect. To recap, Claydol is at +6 defenses, so Cosmic Power is useless. Sandstorm is already up, and has been up all battle, so that move is useless. And it's looking at an Excadrill and a Pokemon that's already poisoned, so Toxic is useless too. This leaves Claydol with only one non-useless move, Explosion, and we're in prime position to take advantage of it. Although...hmm, let's see, would I be better off switching Medicham out to Tyranitar and taking the resist points? No, Explosion deals 23-27 and that's worth 3-4% in damage points, when the resist bonus only gains back 2.

Excadrill used Protect
Medicham used Protect
Claydol used Sandstorm, failed
Medicham took 27 from poison (105/159)

[Start of Turn 13] 384

...oh. That was unwelcome, then. Guess there's an AI routine that recognizes lastmon Explosion can never win, and scores the move as "worse than useless" in that case. If I knew about that in advance, I would have set up a different lineup from turn 9 onward, to string along Toxic targeting decisions and flawlessly stall the move out of all its PP without having to risk anyone taking poison damage, while spinning the wheels with a bunch of 0- or +5-scoring turns. Too late for that, we have to finish off a +6 defense Claydol from the yellow, preferably fast because now there are no more New Move bonuses to get and I'm only losing points the longer the battle takes.

Medicham switched to Tyranitar [Switch +5] 389
Excadrill used Earthquake
Claydol used Sandstorm, failed

[Start of Turn 14] 379

Excadrill switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 384
Claydol used Toxic on Tyranitar
Tyranitar used Crunch, Claydol fainted [Give Super +1] [KO +80] [Victory +1000] 1465

Missing health: :excadrill:17, :tyranitar:0, :sigilyph:0, :medicham:54 = 71, -10%

Final score for the round: 1455
Cumulative score: 4268

A bit of a hiccup with predicting Claydol's self-preservation instinct at the end cost about 20 points. Still, I'll take 1450s to bounce back from battle 2's disappointment, and this run certainly has a shot.

Round 4 draws trainers from the endgame Subway pool, after the boss is down and you're just grinding it out for streaks. Such trainers obviously use 31 IVs, and different trainers use different set numbers, or even a mix thereof. There are a total of 100 trainers in the endgame rotation, but in round 4 specifically, you're only subject to 30 of them, the ones numbered 41-70 within that list. This selection include themes such as weather-focused teams, and even the notorious Roughnecks Proteus and Ganymed whose theme is to throw all the sets with OHKO moves onto a roster and see how frequently they can force you to reckon with luck.

ROUND 4 vs. Harlequin Athos

Athos sent out Rampardos and Tyranitar :rampardos: :tyranitar:

[Start of Turn 1] -10

Athos, the Trick Room specialist. I guess he's been hanging around with Mara in the back lot at the circus. Between the better IV range, HP EVs (because he obviously doesn't care about speed), and +Defense nature, this Tyranitar can survive any of Excadrill's moves. Still, it's another frontline where we're plenty capable of KOing them both on turn 1, in two different ways in fact. The question is whether it's worth sacrificing 1 point to leave Earthquake in reserve, instead of popping it now to score a spread double super. Looking at all the bulky stuff that can be in Athos's back line, where Earthquake might come in handy for breaking them down, I figure that yes, the extra flexibility is worth a 1-point sacrifice for now.

Excadrill used Iron Head on Rampardos, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 86
My Tyranitar used Low Kick on their Tyranitar, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 182
Athos sent out Musharna and Reuniclus :musharna: :reuniclus:

[Start of Turn 2] 172

So there's the Trick Room setter. Two of them, in fact. The issue with a lineup like this is I can be fairly sure he wants to set TR, but the real question is who's going to do it? Reuniclus2 is a very goofy physical set and looks extremely farmable if I save it for last, but as Musharna is so bulky that even EQ+Crunch isn't guaranteed to bring it down, I think I'd rather use Rock Slide with its two chances to fish for a flinch, and either stop the setter (so they don't get to pay off immediately with free hits next turn ahead of our moves) or stop one of them from dealing damage, saving points that way.

Excadrill used Rock Slide, hit both [New Move +15] 187
Tyranitar used Crunch on Musharna [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] 203
Musharna used Trick Room
Reuniclus used Trick Room
Musharna took 11 from sand

[Start of Turn 3] 193

...okay. That works too. I'm almost inclined to leave them both alone for 5 turns to see if they run through all their PP the same way, but given the point loss from guessing wrong, that's not a gamble that's worth it (plus, Musharna is low enough on health that I don't think it survives 4 more turns). I do know that the Reuniclus is Magic Guard, as it didn't take sand damage, the better for staying alive to be everybody's punching bag. The KO is there and I'm taking it.

Excadrill used Protect [New Move +15] 208
Tyranitar used Smack Down on Musharna, who fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] 303
Reuniclus used Trick Room

[Start of Turn 4] 293

Excadrill switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 298
Tyranitar used Protect [New Move +15] 313
Reuniclus used Gyro Ball on Tyranitar, protected

[Start of Turn 5] 303

Having to switch the faster Sigilyph into Tyranitar's slot when I know it's a Gyro Ball target, rather than the same-speed Medicham, would be inconvenient, except that this is obviously the Fake Out turn.

Tyranitar switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 308
Medicham used Fake Out [New Move +15] 323
Reuniclus flinched
Sigilyph was burned by Flame Orb

[Start of Turn 6] 313

Reuniclus obviously won't take burn damage, but I still want to burn it to make its physical attacks even less damaging. Might as well go fishing with Fire Punch first, in case I can get it without having to expose Sigilyph to a non-burned attack.

Sigilyph used Protect [New Move +15] 328
Reuniclus used Rock Slide, Medicham 147/159 [Take Resist +2] 330
Medicham used Fire Punch [New Move +15] 345

[Start of Turn 7] 335

No dice. Unless I want to chance a double Protect, which isn't worth points, Reuniclus will get to hit Sigilyph with a Rock Slide before I can get the burn in place, either this turn or next (after TR ends). Or at least try. It's weak enough that Sigilyph will obviously tank it regardless, but losing the extra points hurts.

Medicham used Protect [New Move +15] 350
Reuniclus used Gyro Ball on Medicham, protected
Sigilyph used Psycho Shift [New Move +15] 365
Trick Room ended

[Start of Turn 8] 355

Huh. Can't say why they decided to pick Gyro Ball, let alone targeting into Medicham's slot with it, but I'll take it. Next up, I could use Psychic to deal a bit of chip damage to Reuniclus and take a 2-point penalty...or I could aim it team-sided, into Telepathy, where we already discussed that there's no penalty. If those are the options, the choice is obvious.

Medicham used Helping Hand [New Move +15] 370
Sigilyph used Psychic on Medicham, failed [New Move +15] 385
Reuniclus used Rock Slide, Medicham 141/159, Sigilyph 135/160 [Take Resist +2] 387

[Start of Turn 9] 377

With just two more moves that need checking off, time to start winding down the show.

Medicham switched to Excadrill [Switch +5] 382
Sigilyph used Air Slash [New Move +15] 397
Reuniclus used Rock Slide, Excadrill 188/191, Sigilyph 107/160 [Take Resist +2] 399

[Start of Turn 10] 389

All right, that's enough. Old clown Athos had a farm, E-I-E--KO?

Sigilyph switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 394
Excadrill used Earthquake, Reuniclus fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] [Victory +1000] 1489

Missing health: :excadrill:3, :tyranitar:0, :sigilyph:53, :medicham:18 = 74, -10%

Final score for the round: 1479
Cumulative score: 5747

As I was tracking it live, my count was a bit off, but after another great round, I knew I only needed somewhere in the vicinity of 1250 off the final battle to reach 7000, and that total was very gettable even with a second faint. Just as long as I avoided disaster...

In round 5, we're reckoning with trainers 71-100 off the endgame list. This includes several trainers whose roster consists of all the legendary sets and nothing else, though many of these aren't actually so bad. (There's another block of such trainers who are strategically positioned at 32-40 on the list, such that you can't run into them on any round of Institute.)

ROUND 5 vs. Clerk Elwin

Elwin sent out Vanilluxe and Klinklang :vanilluxe: :klinklang:

[Start of Turn 1] -10

Elwin uses Set 3s on all his Pokemon, which are usually skewed to the high side of BSTs among non-legendaries. This is another pair of leads where I can KO both of them turn 1, but not without giving Vanilluxe a turn, which it's almost certainly going to use to set Hail. Oh well, it's not the worst outcome I could envision from the list of round-5 trainers after one turn.

Excadrill used Earthquake, Klinklang fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 86
Vanilluxe used Hail
Tyranitar used Smack Down on Vanilluxe, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 182
Excadrill took 11 from hail (180/191)
Tyranitar took 11 from hail (180/191)
Elwin sent out Magmortar and Claydol :magmortar: :claydol:

[Start of Turn 2] 172

Now that sand isn't up, and Magmortar is the fastest thing on the field...RETREAT! RETREAT! But really, though, it's best to handle the retreat in a certain order. If I had to guess, Magmortar wants to use Brick Break on Tyranitar, while Claydol is highly likely to want its Gem-boosted Earth Power against Excadrill (as that would be a OHKO if it connected). Sigilyph really wishes it could switch in on both slots here, but Brick Break to Medicham is still a resist, and if Claydol ever gets to consume its gem then someone's taking a bunch of damage even if it's not Excadrill, so attending to the most pressing concerns indicates that we should do it this way...

Excadrill switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 177
Tyranitar switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 182
Magmortar used Earthquake, Sigilyph immune, Medicham 131/159 [Take Immune +5] 187
Claydol used Earth Power on Sigilyph, immune [Take Immune +5] 192
Magmortar took 9 from hail (141/150)
Claydol took 8 from hail (127/135)
Sigilyph was burned by Flame Orb

[Start of Turn 3] 182

Now I need to get the sand back, and this time the AI intentions are more muddy. Nobody's in KO range from anything, and while Magmortar does have a super-effective Thunderpunch to hit Sigilyph, where I could switch in Excadrill, a little "envelope math" shows that super-effective Thunder Punch would be 150, while STAB Flare Blitz is 180 and hits harder. Thus, if Magmortar wanted to hit Sigilyph, it would probably use Flare Blitz, and switching Excadrill into that is bad news. Granted, it could conceivably target either slot, so if it wants Flare Blitz, which it should prefer against either one of these, how do I avoid letting Excadrill take that hit? Let's see, Medicham's physical bulk is ever-so-slightly higher than Sigilyph's, so if it's taking that into account I would believe it more likely to aim in that direction, so that's where I'll put Tyranitar. As for Claydol's action, Ice Beam into Sigilyph's slot looks like the best option, and Tyranitar is better suited to take that too. Even if it gets the freeze, I can probably cope with that.

Sigilyph switched to Tyranitar [Switch +5] 187
Medicham switched to Excadrill [Switch +5] 192
Magmortar used Earthquake, Tyranitar immune, Excadrill 110/191 [Take Immune +5] 197
Claydol used Ice Beam on Tyranitar (154/191), balloon popped
Magmortar took 9 from sand (132/150)

[Start of Turn 4] 187

Huh. Looks like Magmortar is caught in the overpowering mindset of "I have a Levitating partner next to me, therefore I should flaunt it with Earthquake even if one of the opponents is also immune." Kind of like it wants to run point on my team without having to worry about checking off those other three "New Move" boxes. Anyway, Excadrill took enough damage from Earthquake that it's now in KO range from Flare Blitz (in fact, it was already a roll for such after taking nothing more than the one round of hail damage), and I'm pretty confident in calling a double target into Excadrill this turn. Still, both leads have Protect unchecked after they had to make a hasty getaway out of the snow, so the first order of business is to take care of that.

Excadrill used Protect [New Move +15] 202
Tyranitar used Protect [New Move +15] 217
Magmortar used Flare Blitz on Excadrill, protected
Claydol used Earth Power on Excadrill, protected
Magmortar took 9 from sand (123/150)

[Start of Turn 5] 207

And the situation on my side is still the same, so I know they want to do it again. Rock Slide KOs Magmortar (before it gets a chance to move, importantly) about 70% of the time from here, but then I'd be resigning to a trade, or possibly worse, with Claydol ready to fire that Earth Power. Instead, I can go for the other way around, in which case somebody has to take a Flare Blitz which will hurt (barring a double Protect which I don't want to throw away points just to risk at this late stage), but I at least get to make Earth Power whiff and get back some points from that.

Excadrill switched to Sigilyph [Switch +5] 212
Magmortar used Flare Blitz on Sigilyph (84/160) and took 25 recoil (98/150)
Claydol used Earth Power on Sigilyph, immune [Take Immune +5] 217
Tyranitar used Crunch on Claydol, who fainted [New Move +15] [Give Super +1] [KO +80] 313
Magmortar took 9 from sand (89/150)

[Start of Turn 6] 303

Tyranitar is still healthy enough to be out of KO range for Brick Break, but now that Claydol's gone as a show-off point, I don't see why Magmortar would pick anything else. Time to give Medicham a chance to stick around long enough to pick moves for a change.

Tyranitar switched to Medicham [Switch +5] 308
Sigilyph used Protect [New Move +15] 323
Magmortar used Earthquake, Medicham 103/159
Magmortar took 9 from sand (80/150)

[Start of Turn 7] 313

I can't utilize all our moves this time around, as Magmortar hits too hard to try to farm 16/16 against, obviously defies prediction as well from what we've seen, not to mention it's immune to Psycho Shift as a means of weakening its attacks--it's time to start bringing this battle, and the test as a whole, to a conclusion. It does look like I can scrounge about 1400 out of it, which will be plenty. Medicham risks getting burned by Flame Body along the way, but I don't even care at this point.

Medicham used Fake Out [New Move +15] 328
Sigilyph used Air Slash [New Move +15] 343
Magmortar flinched
Magmortar took 9 from sand

[Start of Turn 8] 333

Can't forget to let Medicham chime in with a priority move before it's too late, of course.

Medicham used Helping Hand [New Move +15] 348
Sigilyph used Psychic, Magmortar fainted [New Move +15] [KO +80] [Victory +1000] 1443

Missing health: :excadrill:81, :tyranitar:37, :sigilyph:76, :medicham:56 = 250, -35%

Final score for the round: 1408
Cumulative score...

Wow, that with a faint, just a couple mishaps away from 7250+. I might try for another test with even better luck, or I might not. If you want to try, at least now you're hopefully enlightened as to how you would do it. It's all about finding spots to get all 16 of those moves in (without taking too much damage in the process, of course). That or hundreds of turns of Regenerator switches against extremely feeble opponents.
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