Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Evasion Clause under scrutiny once again

As I mentioned a little while back, we hadn't heard a thing about banning anything from Smogon in a while. This ended today, as they're looking to potentially alter the Evasion Clause further. Last year, in the midst of a Garchomp-induced panic, they banned Brightpowder and Lax Incense, which accomplished nothing since not only was Garchomp was still banned the following round, but later on it was also statistically proven that Leftovers was better at fishing for Sand Veil misses than adding Brightpowder on top of it.

However, even after that evasion still remained in some capacity, with Sand Veil and Snow Cloak. And for the sake of consistency, the case was re-opened today, as it's an aberration to some that these abilities are still allowed while Brightpowder is gone. This is something I fully agree with, as Brightpowder should never have been banned in the first place. Unfortunately, far more concerning is the fact that the option of getting rid of Sand Veil and Snow Cloak is now available, either through a full ban or a combo ban with their respective weathers. The former is completely unacceptable, as it would act as a full ban on the likes of Sandslash and Cacturne by proxy, and so is the latter, as I believe complex bans should only be used in extreme emergencies, such as the Swift Swim fiasco early last year. Sand Veil and Snow Cloak are NOT emergencies, they're NOT broken, period. Garchomp was, it's now gone, it's as simple as that.

The underlying issue is the eternal skill vs. luck debate. Luck will always be part of the game, whether we like it or not, and trying to get rid of that much of it will eventually transform the metagame into an unappealing Franken-monster. Evasion isn't the only source of hax, it's just the flashiest, which is why no one ever examined full paralysis, flinching and so on. You know how too much plastic surgery may make a woman less appealing than how she started out as? The same thing applies here, and we could be going down that spiral of BS pretty soon if further bans take place.

Fortunately, in the ongoing forum thread it seems there really isn't a whole lot of support for a combo ban, and absolutely none for full bans, so we're unlikely to see any major changes come out of it - as long as we hold our ground and make it clear that we won't take that kind of garbage.

You know what? Let's have a little in-house poll to see what you guys think. It's on the right side of the blog.

Edit: Something that needs to be said, major props to the admins for actually opening up the discussion despite having an opinion on the matter that doesn't look like it could rally the majority of people. Of course, I might take that back if they go forward with the combo ban anyway... but for now they're doing the right thing.


  1. I hated the idea of banning Brightpowder/Lax Incense from the start, and I am still completely opposed to this ban in all tiers that have Evasion Clause. (Seriously? Even from Ubers?) I consider myself a decent player, and not once had I found myself annoyed that my opponent would have a Brightpowder or Focus Band or Quick Claw. Those items are terrible from a statistical standpoint, so that no good player in their right mind would see them as the best item choice. In fact when I first started playing competitively, I distinctly remember trying out those bad items, for the sake of testing them out. I eventually learned about the advantages and disadvantages to do so. And I loved it.

    Unlike the average Smogon leader (from what I gather), I wholeheartedly embrace luck as a crucial part of the game. Citing that a 100 acc move *should* hit all the time seems to me like a poor argument when Game Freak intentionally built in the Evasion and Accuracy stats, intrinsically luck-based items, and perfect accuracy moves. What I take from Pokemon is the concept of risk management: to be mindful of what could go wrong with your strategy, and to have a way to deal with that. I guess in the end it is all about having the most people satisfied with the metagame as possible. What I am afraid of is that the best players are making decisions based on that one time they raged when a newcomer used an obscure and risky strategy, the opponent got a free hit before eventually losing, and then the good player said, "Hey! Someone who is worse at the game could possibly beat me! Let's stop that before that happens!"

    Still, I am glad the thread is not only about adding things to the Evasion Clause, but possibly cutting off the unnecessary parts. Kudos to them for promoting this sort of discussion!

  2. Luck isn't just a part of Pokemon, it's a part of almost every competitive game in existence, and for good reason. I understand I'm going to be falling into the territory of the slippery slope fallacy here, but without luck, the game is probably going to spiral into boring 'ideal' teams that always do the same thing. If luck isn't involved, the possibility of creating a team that can deal with just about anything comes into play. Do we really want the metagame to turn into that? One of the biggest appeals of competitive Pokemon is the amount of variety that the game allows, with what, 350ish different fully-evolved Pokemon to choose from? (Though most are NU) I don't want to see the same ten Pokemon dominate the OU tier completely, and luck is the biggest factor driving that away.

    That thought train spiraled out of control. In short, I am against any new ban on the basis of luck.

  3. While I admit I overreacted at first, it's the exact reason why I didn't like that whole competitive battles community idea back when I subscribed to you. But as the main person from whom I learned about this interesting way to enjoy Pokemon games, you convinced me that it's not as bad as I thought back then. This is why I completely agree with you. Even if my luck is pretty horrible in video games in general, it's still a factor that is a part of almost all games and taking it away would be so boring.
    We need a 60 BP (Or maybe more, your call) Ice Move with perfect accuracy for next Gen so the debate can finally be over. Aura Sphere, even with its bad distribution, can theoretically make short work out of any Snow Cloak abuser.
    That's what I think anyway... It's not like I have any experience in competitive battling yet...

  4. I'm a little alarmed that there's a pocket of thought on Smogon that anything which takes advantage of the presence of weather is automatically overpowered - first it was Swift Swim (whose banning I continue to question, given that nobody seems to have bothering trying a ban on Kingdra, Kabutops, Omastar, Gorebyss and Ludicolo - the targets of more or less all the ire prior to Aldaron's Proposal - and seeing what the resulting metagame looks like), then the only OU-viable Sand Rush user went, now Sand Veil and Snow Cloak. Is this argument the descendant of the ban-all-weather crowd from the days of the Gen V suspect tests?

    (I also think consideration ought to be given to switching to treating ability+species as the fundamental unit for bans rather than just species. The "classic" example is Blaziken - Blaze Blaziken is straight-up outclassed by Infernape and would instantly fall to UU were it not for Speed Boost Blaziken whose Ubers status isn't questioned at this point. I pose the same question for Excadrill - Sand Rush Excadrill is unquestionably overpowered, but the fact we ban entire species in one fell swoop means nobody has an opportunity to test Sand Force Excadrill separately.)