So here’s the story of that misused Master Ball.
After beating the Hoenn Elite 4 and Champion, I decided to go after the post-game legendaries, staring with Rayquaza because he’s just so badass. On the way to Sky Pillar, I bumped into Latias, which was an EXTREME surprise, and as I said in an earlier article, I Master-Balled, because I was not chasing her all over Hoenn.
After catching Latias, it was onto Sky Pillar. Sky Pillar is nothing less than a colossal pain. Assuming you’re sitting on a mountain of Super Repel and don’t have to deal with a battle every 5 steps, you have to navigate 2 of its floors with the Mach Bike, riding through each in a perfect line without hitting any walls or slowing down at all, or else you fall back to the floor below. Also, even if you’re using Repel, it’s still very possible to bump into Pokémon, if you’re underlevelled like I was at this point in the game.
After a solid half hour of navigation, I finally reached Rayquaza. I had a level 47 Kyogre, a level 30-ish Gloom (the same one I used to paralyze the dogs in SoulSilver) and mid level 40 Blaziken and Kadabra — the rest of my team was pretty insignificant. My bag was full of Ultra Balls and Timer Balls, as well as a good number of revives.
Rayquaza’s moveset was composed of Extremespeed, Fly, Outrage, and Rest, and he was at level 70. In case anyone’s forgotten or is otherwise unaware, this moveset is terrible for a Pokémon you’re trying to catch: Extremespeed will always hit first, and it will hit hard; Fly means you’re never really sure when you’ll be able to hit him or throw a ball; Outrage is insanely powerful and eventually results in confusion for the Pokémon, which means that either you’ll be out of Pokémon by the time he’s done raging, or he’ll confuse himself and take out that 1HP you tried so hard to save for him. And then there’s Rest, which puts him to sleep and fully restores his health. After switching back to your heavy-hitter and getting him back to a sliver of health, you’ll have a maximum of one turn to throw a ball before he wakes up and most likely uses Rest again. If he doesn’t use Rest again, you’d probably want to switch back to your paralyzer and re-paralyze, after which you’d throw more balls until he’s caught (lol) or uses Rest again.
After about an entire day of trying to catch him then, I accepted that I was terribly underlevelled to be facing a level 70 beast like this, and went off to catch the Golems and train a little more.
I then returned to Sky Pillar and did the whole climb thing again.
This time my Kyogre was at level 56, my Kadabra and Blaziken were a little stronger too, and I had a Relicanth, which was pretty great defensively.
Before going onto the actual battle, I should note that Timer Balls worked differently in Gens III and IV to Gen V: they’d be twice as effective as Ultra Balls after 30 turns of battle, whereas the later games had it set to 10 turns. I actually opened a MS Word page to help me count 30 moves:
I’d backspace every time Rayquaza did something, because I felt it was easier keeping track of his moves than mine. There are probably much more effective ways of keeping track, but I’m too lazy to think of those.
Moves I used included Ice Beam (Kyogre), Stun Spore (Gloom), and Quick Attack (Blaziken).
Even this took hours, with many failed attempts. A battle would consist of Ice Beam to get him in the red; Stun Spore when I felt it was safe to send in Gloom (I often guessed wrong and then OHKO); and then Quick Attack for chip damage. I didn’t have a False Swiper, so I had to just guess when his health was low enough. I’d throw an Ultra Ball in free turns when he was asleep/paralysed with low HP, until I had gotten through about 25 moves, at which point I’d start with the Timer Balls. 28 turns into one of these battles, Rayquaza was caught with a Timer Ball.
That day, I learned a valuable lesson: as annoying as chasing roaming legendaries may be, catching Rayquaza is much, much worse, and the Master Ball should be used on Rayquaza instead of Latias. I mean, everything after the fourth paragraph could have been avoided. So yeah, if you want to save some time, Master Ball.
But then you wouldn’t be able to tell people that you caught Rayquaza without a Master Ball, so there’s that.
Advice to other players: make sure you’re actually at an okay level to take hits from a level 70, who also happens to be the most powerful wild Pokémon since Mewtwo. Buy tons of Super Repel, as well as various healing items, before leaving for Sky Pillar. If you’re using Timer Balls, make sure you’re counting your turns properly.