Part 79: The Insurgence Speedrun Route, Part 1Let's assume you wanted to beat Pokemon Insurgence as fast as possible. People have actually done this before, there's a speedrun for just about everything out there.
I, SirSystemError, chanced upon seeing this run one day after the LP got me interested in this game. I got a minor interest in it and obtained the notes for the world record run. Obviously there is too much to go over in full detail, and this route is subject to change - notably, one InprisonedShadow (who sent me the route) has been considering a route that sticks with Gyarados the whole way through. So I'll be playing through the route record run takes in brief, with a few adjustments of my own along the way.
As is usual for a Pokemon speedrun, you'll want a one-character name. You'll also need to get the right initial settings down. Put the battle mode on Set and the text speed to Insane. The story you have to set to Traditional, due to less text and some scenes being shorter. You do keep on the Deltas and such! Turbo Speed is Ludicrous, though using it is under consideration due to lag and PC issues. It's a complicated mess. Any other settings don't really matter, but Constant Daytime is nice of course. My notes say to turn off "Trainer Detection", a setting not shown at the start of the LP. This is simply that thing from Gen 7 where the screen's top and bottom darken slightly when close to a trainer.
Now here's the biggest and strangest thing: you have the initial difficulty set to Normal, but throughout the run, this is periodically changed to Easy. There is some strategic choice behind this: it sometimes is faster to go with Normal. Or in some other cases, it's actually better or easier on Normal than it is on Easy. For this runthrough, I'll be testing some strategies that stick with Normal the whole way through on the fly. They're likely riskier, but the whole run is risky at many points. More than other Pokemon runs, an errant critical is liable to ruin your day and force a reset.
You grab some items during the initial sequence. The starter of choice for this speedrun is Delta Bulbasaur. As with many Pokemon speedruns, you tend to stick with a single Pokemon. While you won't be using the starter for the entire game, Delta Bulbasaur has the best type and moves available before you capture the first Pokemon you'll be using. You'll still want good stats for it, since you will need to use it for a while, most notably during the school tournament. High speed and special attack are desirable, and not-terrible defensive stats will be useful as well.
Before heading out, you get 9 Repels from the mart, alongside a single Antidote for safety purposes.
The early goings of the game consists of battling trainers you can easily defeat and avoiding all the others. For example, in the forest, you take on the first Hiker (just a Machop), the first Bug Catcher (just a Kakuna), and the Beauty (with a Roselia, but you'll usually beat it with Confusion before it can beat you with Poison Sting). You avoid all the rest. Trainers in Insurgence generally fall into one of two categories: those who remain stationary, and those who walk around like any other NPC. Quicksave also ensures that if you do get caught by a trainer, you can quickly reset.
The battles you can't avoid in Telnor Cave are a Battle Maniac and a Hiker, both of whose Pokemon easily fall to Confusions. Same for the first Abyssal Cultist - Skrelp doesn't seem to have a Poison attack, but you may need to heal before him if you're low on health.
When you hit Route 1, you fight the Youngster with a Murkrow right outside the cave, which pushes Bulbasaur high enough to learn Leech Seed (over Tackle) and Hypnosis (over Confusion). Note that some trainers, like this one on the route, have a much shorter sight radius than you might think, and you can just pass by them. In Midna Town, you get the Leftovers from the Floatzel in the house northwest of the Pokemon Center, restock on Repels and grab some Antidotes before heading into the Mine to look for Nora.
So the Hiker with a Lunatone and Solrock. How to deal with him in a speedrun? Well, you just picked up Leftovers. And Bulbasaur has learned Leech Seed as of the last battle. Together, that's enough to get by them without too much difficulty. Even if Lunatone hits with Hypnosis, you'll still be regenerating health. Bulbasaur gets enough experience from this to get Psybeam, which is taught over Leech Seed. Which means yes, it was there for all of one battle.
You face a Rich Boy along the way. Escape Rope after you reach Nora, and immediately head back in to fight the Ace Trainer at the start of the cave. With Psybeam, beating him isn't too difficult, and this should push Bulbasaur to level 16 and evolution. Just in time for the Trainer School Tournament
You need it, since as far as I can tell, it is a very difficult part of the run. First, there's nothing to worry about the Ninja Boy. Damien...is a different story. While Fairy Wind can be good enough to two-shot Delta Charmeleon, that's under ideal circumstances. You can barely avoid being two-shot by it, and Shadow Sneak always goes first. If it's out first, that's ideal - you can just start attacking immediately. If not or two-shotting it isn't possible, you may need to get lucky with Hypnosis. At least Corphish isn't an issue, and Luxio isn't too bad.
Nora is also obnoxious, and the WR run actually loses to. Look at how close it was when I made it through! If her Bayleef decides to crit you with Razor Leaf, it'll hurt. You really can't do much but plug away at her and hope you defeat her before she defeats you, but she at least doesn't have anything seriously bad. Hypnosis is again okay as a desperation strategy.
The Old Rod is accessible on the next route, which you promptly use to grab a Lv19 Magikarp from the Ancient Ruins. Capturing it is easy: you simply use Hypnosis and throw a Great Ball. After that, you enter the ruins and swing into the room on the right and promptly evolve it with the Rare Candy there. While Gyarados is not the permanent Pokemon in this route, it is one of the best choices for getting to said Pokemon.
Of course, you still want workable stats, but I believe it's flexible on this route which doesn't exclusively use Gyarados. The WR run goes with one that has junk to mediocre for everything but Attack. I went for a somewhat stronger one, though it took me hours to find this one.
After fighting a nearby Pokemon Breeder on the route outside for some experience (the one with Pignite/Servine), you move onto Cyan Cave. The most notable thing is fighting an optional Rich Boy on the second floor who has the original Eevee evolutions. You use Ivysaur to weaken Jolteon before letting it faint, then defeat the rest with Gyarados. This gets it up to Level 23, where it learns Dragon Rage.
This move is excellent at lower levels, even against the most overtuned of opponents. Just about anything falls in two, maybe three attacks. It's a quick jaunt out from there. You immediately head into the gym in Suntouched City. On the way to the leader, you face a Picnicker and a Preschooler.
Ignore the minor stat discrepancy in the image here, had to go back to a previous save to get this. Orion isn't too difficult. Gyarados' typing gives it an excellent advantage over his Sunny Day team. It resists the Fire attacks and takes only neutral damage from the Grass moves. Vulpix will fall in two Bites, and Larvesta in two Dragon Rages (to avoid Flame Body). Ivysaur is the tricky opponent, especially if it decides to break out Sleep Powder. It can even use it immediately after healing sleep. Just have to hope it doesn't mess you up too badly. Once it goes down, Fletchinder is a nonissue.
Something to note: for resetting purposes, you can quicksave the game at any time in a cutscene when a textbox is not up. Say, when you and a gym leader are walking to the battlefield. Something else that's important to note: unlike in the actual games, gym trainers will still challenge you after defeating the gym leader, so continue avoiding those you didn't fight when walking out of any gym.
After the cutscene with Taen, you go heal at the Pokemon Center, stock up on about 10 Super Potions, and grab a hidden Rare Candy in-town for later. There's another one on Route 3 here, where you fight a couple trainers for additional levels but otherwise avoid everyone else. There's also a Great Ball you can grab here that's right along the way.
Against Nora in Metchi Town, you use Bite on Honedge and Celebi, Tackle Floette, then Dragon Rage what's left. Celebi is the only real threat here, particularly if it gets a boost from Ancientpower. My notes say to change to Easy here for speed and safety reasons, though the WR run doesn't do that at this particular point. It also considers skipping one of the two trainers on Route 3, but testing's required to say for sure that it's faster.
Now, here's a deviation from the WR run that is definitely faster: after heading south onto the Route 4 towards Vipik Town, you take the opportunity to capture a Fly user. Both Wingull and Ducklett are available here, though the former is far more common. There are other chances further along the line, but this one is convenient if you can pull it off. Dragon Rage gets it into capture range without trouble. You heal at the Pokemon Center and head into the Gym.
The optimal route through ends up fighting just one trainer along the way. Unfortunately, that trainer has some annoying things. Notably his Dustox who has Whirlwind. If it brings out Ivysaur, you can have it try Hypnosis before switching back to Gyarados. After beating him, you use the two Rare Candies you've gathered to get Gyarados to Level 35. It learns Aqua Tail at that level.
You set the Battle Mode to Shift before fighting Xavier. Shuckle isn't too difficult. Aqua Tail will one-shot it if you get a critical hit. I once saw him switch to Heracross after a hit that didn't knock it out, so follow up with Dragon Rage after. Haunter will explode to a Bite. Croagunk is the first annoying Pokemon. Best case scenario is freezing it with Ice Fang, but if it Bulks Up too much, Dragon Rages are better. Just make sure to save three Dragon Rages for Tentacruel, which will do enough to cleanly defeat it. Heal poison right away. It may even be worth a reset if Gyarados is poisoned too quickly.
Once Beedrill is out, you switch using Shift and heal Gyarados of poison if it was affected or its HP if not. Either way, an Aqua Tail brings down Mega Beedrill in one shot, and Intimidate lowers its attack so any hit that it does get off won't hurt. Heracross, you Dragon Rage and then Aqua Tail to avoid Counter. This is also a point where Easy actually is not easy: on that difficulty, Heracross has Rock Slide, and will use it repeatedly on Gyarados.
At the Vipik Dump, there's another Rare Candy hidden behind a garbage pile. One consequence of getting a Fly user is that you'll have three Pokemon for the Abyssal Cult double battle. Ideally they only are up as long as is needed to fully defeat the Starmie/Skrelp, with Gyarados using Bites. The other one with Dewgong and Crawdaunt are dealt with via Dragon Rages. The biggest potential issue here is them ganging up on Gyarados or Starmie using Confuse Ray. I forgot to save a screenshot of this battle.
You stock up on Hyper Potions, Super Repels, and a Revive and heal in Koril Town, get the Lucky Egg from the Loudred in town, then leave for Rezzai Desert. You get the Wave Incense here for later selling, and put the Lucky Egg on Gyarados. You fight the ruin guy to the west and the two Hikers, Gyarados learning Crunch in the process. There's a hidden Rare Candy to get here too, just to the right of the visible Great Ball in the southeast. In the cave, fight the Lady with a Simisage and Grumpig near the start. You can find another hidden Rare Candy in the cave across the body of water west from where the Hiker isn't murdered because of Traditional mode.
Now if Gyarados is not at level 43? Fight whatever random encounters until it is. Then use all four Rare Candies that you have. It'll learn this move, which replaces Dragon Rage. Its moveset at this point is Aqua Tail/Ice Fang/Crunch/Dragon Dance.
Needless to say, the game just got a lot easier. Three of them will suffice for sweeping through Damien's team, and Crawdaunt being first gives ample opportunity to buff. After this, everything falls to one attack. This move right here is why a route with Gyarados alone has been considered by InprisonedShadow, but that isn't fully completed yet.
Nothing to do in Roggan Town except heal and get the bicycle. On Route 6, my notes say to battle the Bird Keeper, but it has a question mark beside it. This may have been a mistake in the WR run. This aside, you avoid every other trainer from here until Helios City.
You head over to the department store and sell the Wave Incense for a good chunk of money (4800), then use it to help buy some more supplies. You then head to Floor 3 to pick up some Air Balloons for later use. 4 is ideal, but I went a bit higher to guarantee I'll be able to show off a certain strategy later. With this, you head through the sewers, fetching an Exp. Share from the Black Market along the way.
In true Taen fashion, he is a nonissue. Kyurem shouldn't be able to defeat Gyarados before you get off 1-2 Dragon Dances and Crunch it into oblivion. Mega Stunfisk should be defeated in a single Ice Fang, the only potential problems being if it misses or Static triggers. Even if the latter happens, you can easily heal against Pyroar and defeat it and Grumpig without issue.
Now here's where the difficulty swaps first come in proper. This has an effect on the battle against East: Skarmory loses some moves that could be obstructive to setting up with Dragon Dance, namely Toxic and Whirlwind.
That said, I was able to put together a strategy for Normal anyway. Switch Ivysaur up in front before the fight. Skarmory has no attacking moves on Normal, so it's free to try and land a Hypnosis. Switch over to Gyarados once it lands, hope it stays asleep for as long as possible as you Dragon Dance three times, and hit it with Aqua Tail. Hopefully it goes down in one attack.
Against Noivern, heal poison if needed and hit with Ice Fang. Focus Sash will trigger, but you use a Hyper Potion on the turn after while he Full Restores. From there Ice Fang defeats it, a Crunch or two takes out Kingdra, Ice Fang defeats Mega Altaria (if you miss it OHKOs with Hyper Beam on Easy), Aqua Tail Talonflame, and Ice Fang Gliscor. Decent attack is probably required here.
On Easy, Rayquaza is unable to Mega Evolve. An Ice Fang or two easily dispatches it. That said, I found winning on Normal wasn't too difficult anyway.
Because of Intimidate, Gyarados can take a Dragon Ascent. You can lead with it, use Ice Fang, use a Revive after it faints, then use one more to seal the deal. Or alternatively, you can keep Ivysaur up front and hit with Baby-Doll Eyes. Jaern seems to LOVE using Dragon Ascent, so if it uses it on your flier as well, Gyarados can OHKO it from there. The first of these is probably better.
There's an Elixir and Dusk Ball nearby after exiting the tower. From there you head right to the Cave of Steam. There is an unavoidable trainer here, and she has a Magnezone! While Gyarados is faster than it, it cannot OHKO and it easily can. This is a recurring issue with the Gyarados route. She might use Electro Ball here instead of Thunderbolt, which is how I got through. Otherwise you'll have to heal and/or use a Revive. That's where the first Normal difficulty strategy against Mega Rayquaza is better: you'll still have something to fall back on.
The cave is short, but you capture a Druddigon before leaving it. There are various Dusk Balls and Ultra Ball that aren't too far out of the way which are grabbed to give a decent shot of achieving this successfully. Its low catch rate might be obnoxious, but...
...you take this Druddigon and trade it with the Hiker in Utira Town for a Drilbur. Excadrill is an excellent Pokemon that even gets used in the speedruns for Black/White. So getting one with boosted experience is even better. Note that unlike more recent Pokemon games, in-game trades in Insurgence come with whatever stats and IVs. But what is fixed on this Drilbur is a moveset that's practically good to go as-is. Swords Dance AND Earthquake? Rock Slide on top of those, and even Sandstorm to take advantage of its abilities? This thing is a monster, and once it gets hold of Iron Head it'll be even better.
Thankfully the trading animation is very short, making it relatively painless to reset for good stats. For now, however, you just give the Drilbur the Exp. Share. Also at this point is when you would switch back to Normal if you're switching around difficulties.
Nora is faster to fight than Damien, so you battle her before the library. Dragon Dance twice against Doublade and sweep through her team. This gives Drilbur enough experience to evolve.
You still keep using Gyarados against Oracle ??? in the library. There are some luck factors in this battle, namely Jellicent's Cursed Body and Aegislash's King's Shield. They might end up dragging the battle out, but it isn't overly dangerous.
You swap Excadrill to the front after that battle. You get some more experience for it by battling this Ace Trainer in front of the house with Fly. You pick up said HM before heading into Miara Town. When you get there, you can pick up a Rare Candy in the southwest tree on the southwest island, as well as a Chesto Berry in the eastern tree on the southern island. After the events in the museum, you do some things in the menu before heading to the Whirl Islands: change the battle mode to Shift, teach Fly (convenient time even if you can't use it just yet), and heal. The top left island with the Escape Rope atop is the one to enter, grab it before heading in.
You can avoid all of the cultists on the way to Audrey. She herself isn't too big a deal. You lead off with Excadrill, eliminating Lanturn with a single Earthquake.
She brings out Swampert and you shift to Gyarados. It can't do much except freeze you with Ice Punch, and Dragon Dancing four times is enough to defeat everything on her team except Lugia in one hit. Swampert falls to a Crunch, Lugia to two Ice Fangs, Kingdra to a Crunch, and Mega Crawdaunt to an Aqua Tail.
After this battle, you put the Lucky Egg onto Excadrill, giving Gyarados Leftovers in the process. The latter is still going to see some use, but Excadrill is going to be used more often from here on out.
Wake up and run from the Snorlax, and make the short trip to Sonata City. If you take the right path through the Gym, you'll only have to face one trainer who has a Gardevoir - again, you'll have to backtrack along this path because in Insurgence, gym trainers will still challenge you after you defeat the leader.
Harmony is another battle where the run switches to Easy. I couldn't really find a good consistent setup for her on Normal. If you're on Normal and Excadrill has Sand Rush, start off with Sandstorm to outspeed Cincinno and avoid King's Rock flinching nonsense. In either case, Swords Dance twice and heal. Earthquake to beat Cincinno, Azumarill (you'll take an Aqua Jet), and Sylveon.
Easy has no further issues, but Normal meets Gardevoir now. It has Focus Blast and a Focus Sash. You can't use Sandstorm on it either because it conveniently has Trace to render it immune.
I couldn't really find a consistent strategy for defeating it, at least with available tools. A luck-based strategy that can work is trying a Rock Slide. It can potentially make Gardevoir flinch, and if not that, you just need to hope it misses. There's probably something better, as even by this route's standards, that's a gamble. Earthquake afterwards will get rid of it. After that, Mega Miltank falls to an Earthquake and Togekiss to a Rock Slide.
There are four Rare Candies hidden in Sonata Hills: in a bookshelf on the leftmost of the rooms on the first floor, on the carpet in the second from the right, the tree across from that door, and a tree in the bottom left on the second floor. You grab all of them for later use, watch the Deoxysification cutscene, and head on over to Route 10. It's just another area where you simply avoid all the trainers.
Over at Kepler City, you heal. The route actually buys 30 Max Repels here. That has to be inefficient, so I'm experimenting with buying less. We'll see, though.
The Abyssal Cult's base is very short. You don't need to actually find out what the passwords are to put them in. You can go directly to the terminal (grabbing some Ethers along the way), enter Proteus, and go fetch Audrey's DNA. Note that when you are disguised as Audrey, none of the cultists will battle you even though the Trainer Detection shows they're "active". A neat touch that minorly helps.
Against Audrey herself, I found the strategy is identical between Easy and Normal. Make sure you're on Shift. As in the first battle against her, you lead with Excadrill and Earthquake Lanturn. She'll switch to either Ludicolo on Easy or Crawdaunt on Normal, you switch in Gyarados and set up with Dragon Dance. Heal as needed, especially if Mega Crawdaunt decides to use Knock Off.
Then you sweep. Four Dragon Dances is actually enough on Easy because Primal Kyogre is not a thing you have to deal with there, but you'll want five on Normal because of it. With the buffs, even that thing gets destroyed in a single hit.
Alakazam has a Focus Sash, but I think Gyarados can survive one of its attacks if it's healed - Audrey will switch to Ludicolo after Primal Kyogre, so you have a chance to do so at that point. When I tried it actually did this instead of attacking. She then withdrew it on the next turn. That was amusing, to say the least.
After the cutscenes, you head over to Metchi Town and activate your Secret Base. Layout doesn't matter. You use the Tablet to buy the Level Trainer. You face him and his Audinos twice to get Excadrill some extra experience, getting to level 62/63. Use Swords Dance against the first two, then defeat the third with Earthquake.
Why not go further than this? Remember, this Excadrill is a traded Pokemon. If it exceeds level 70 before the next gym, it will start disobeying.
Speaking of which, said gym again has only one mandatory trainer, and another Rare Candy within hidden here. Make sure that Shift is still on for the leader.
Anastasia is another opponent the current speedrun WR fights on Easy. With Normal it is only slightly trickier. You lead off with Gyarados against Klefki, and defeat it with a pair of Aqua Tails. She'll bring out Electivire next on Easy, and Magnezone on Normal. Either way you switch to Excadrill and set up - you need only two Swords Dances on Easy, but it'll take three on Normal. Whichever of her Pokemon out will be attacking with Low Kick/Hidden Power Fire, but just heal as you need to.
Once set up, it's straightforward. Earthquake anything that you can (only Mega Metagross on Normal!), Rock Slide anything you can't: with three Swords Dances, it's enough to even OHKO Aegislash. Note that on Easy, Magnezone still has an Air Balloon, so you'll need to use Rock Slide on it.
This is roughly the halfway point of the run, so I'll break here.