Monday, August 24, 2015

Should Intimidate be nerfed in doubles and triples?

Yesterday I mentioned that all eight quarterfinalists in the VGC's Masters division packed a Landorus-T (along with seven Seniors and five Juniors), and how it was a telltale sign of an unhealthy metagame. I'd like to point out one of the more perverse effects of that superdominance, which stems from Intimidate. If you look at all the top threats in the VGC meta, you'll find only two strictly physical Pokémon: Mega Kangaskhan and Landorus-T itself. The rest, aside from the odd pure physical Salamence, is either mixed or special. From Heatran to Gardevoir to Amoonguss to Sylveon to Rotom-W to Milotic to Aegislash (and then some), it's all about those special attacks. And for good reason - Landorus-T's ubiquity (and the fact that it's almost NEVER one of the two Pokémon that are left out), and its tendency to switch in and out repeatedly, means physical attackers are almost always doomed to perform at -1, meaning only those few that can still deal solid damage under those conditions are worth using. Which basically means Mega Kangaskhan and Landorus-T. Even other titans like Tyranitar, Terrakion or Conkeldurr have a bit of a hard time, which is just silly. It's not like they don't hit like trucks, right? Well, that's what happens in a virtually permanent -1 environment. Smogon's VGC ladder has more detailed data as well as skill-based weighting, and according to those stats almost half of all the teams pack Landorus-T. That's WAAAAAY too much.

So, just how amazing is Intimidate? Well, you just have to take a look at the weird stuff people do to keep it around. Every now and then, you might run into a mixed or even special Landorus-T. Now, common sense would dictate that if you're going to do that, you'd run the Incarnate form instead because it deals such crazy amounts of damage, right? Well, nope. It's worth giving up on that extra damage because Intimidate is just that good. (That, and Landorus-I can't flinch opponents with Rock Slide, which is part of the appeal.) There's also this really silly thing Salamence users can do to preserve their Intimidate. Usually, when a Pokémon gains a speed boost upon going mega (such as with Salamence), common sense dictates you'd use Protect on the first turn since the speed boost doesn't apply on the mega evolution turn, right? Well, here you can have Salamence protect but NOT mega evolve, just in case you want to switch out so you can re-use Intimidate later. Getting in your mega evolution safely is less important than preserving Intimidate, because it's just that good.

So here's what I think should be done. Intimidate should be nerfed so that instead of affecting all targets in range, it only affects one of them at random. I think it'd be a lot more fair, considering that unlike multi-target moves and the likes of Reflect or Light Screen, the effect of Intimidate isn't lowered at all when hitting multiple targets (because mathematically speaking, it can't be). Of course there's the issue of Mega Kangaskhan being even better as a result, but I think it's safe to assume Parental Bond is going to get a pretty big nerf when gen 7 comes around, considering Mega Kangaskhan is so much better than every other mega in doubles, and is still part of that group of horribly broken megas in singles. That, and since it's the only thing that gets it, it won't nerf other things that might've enjoyed that big boost. Though another thing to consider is that if Parental Bond gets nerfed, there might be less of a need for Intimidate spam, and thus less Landorus-Ts everywhere - but that's just pure theorymon, who knows what'd happen in practice.

So in a perfect world, both Intimidate and Parental Bond would be better off being nerfed in my opinion. Any thoughts on that?


  1. Am I the only one who thinks there should have been a special attack version of Intimidate instead of the special attack nerf? Yes? Okay, I'll go now.

    But seriously, funny that you mention Parental Bond, since I'm at the point in your White 2 LP where Parental Bond was first revealed. Anyway, I'm not 100% sure about Intimidate needing a nerf, but Parental Bond definitely does, since it gives Mega Kangaskhan a Choice Item boost without the drawback, in addition to sub breaking capabilities. You know, unless it's using a spread move like EQ (at least in doubles; need to check again for singles).

    With Intimidate, I'm inclined to believe your theory on how things will turn out would be what actually happens (at least to some degree), since, like you said, Mega Kangaskhan is by far the most common physical Pokemon (well, second to Lando-T, of course), and with Parental Bond being so damn good, it makes perfect sense for Intimidate to be so popular.

    1. According to Bulbapedia, Parental Bond applies if the move hits (or more accurately, attempts to hit) a single target, which basically is every move in a single battle. So EQ is affected in a single battle, but not in a double battle unless there's only one opponent and no partner.

    2. I agree that there should be a Special Attacking version of Intimidate. In my opinion it could possibly make the VGC meta game a little bit more balanced.

      But with that being said, Intimidate is broken! No matter how you slice this growing problem, it is broken! The only ways that Intimidate won't bother you is if:
      1. You are a Special Attacker. Point number one is obvious as day, if you're a Special Attacker, you aren't affected by Intimidate.

      2. You have the Defiant ability. Point number two is very known. Pokémon like Bisharp are so valuable on any team because of the combination of Sucker Punch and Defiant. Primeape is one of my favourite Defiant users because of its great coverage. But the problem with Defiant is that I don't want to make Pokémon with Defiant standard issue on any of my future teams! But due to Intimidate's way to shut down Mega-Kangaskhan makes it WAAAAAAAAAAY to good to pass up, which is scary for the VGC community.

      3. You have a Pokémon with Haze or Clear Smog. Haze isn't the best idea, but it is a way to get rid of the Attack drops. BUT it is also a Double-Edge sword in that it erases your opponents stat drops which isn't good either. But Clear Smog is a way to get rid of stat the cost of dealing some damage to your ally, not the best but it is a way to get rid of the Intimidate.

      Do I think that Intimidate should be nerfed? Yes, I do. I feel that it should only target one Pokémon. But you get to choose the Pokémon you want to Intimidate. Or as Slowflake said, it only affects one Pokémon at random. This would immensely balance it out.

      But the big reason as to why Intimidate is so common, is because of Mega-Kangaskhan. Parental Bond is broken, giving it a second, but weaker attack is too good. How about Parental Bond gives you a 25% chance to get a second attack? Possibly?

    3. I absolutely agree that there should be a special Intimidate - just as long as it targets only one Pokémon. Otherwise whatever's the best user of that ability will be as ubiquitous as Landorus-T, and we won't be any better off.

      On that note, the strongest physical moves need to be nerfed like they did to special moves. Superpower? Close Combat? Recoil moves? Knock that down to 110 please. High Jump Kick? No more than 120. Earthquake in the triple digits? Megahorn and Gunk Shot? Also way too powerful, the latter is what broke Greninja and makes Hoopa-U into such an unholy terror. Return? 37.5% of happiness, tops. 40% is stupid with the type-changing abilities. (Also get Scald, Lava Plume and Discharge down to 75 while we're at it. Why everything else got nerfed but not them, I have no idea. Scald in particular is way too good as it is.)

      As for Defiant, Competitive Milotic is often considered the better choice in VGC, because it's a lot bulkier than Bisharp, and it gets +2 to special attack, as opposed to Bisharp who only gets +1 (-1 from Intimidate, then +2 from Defiant). Bisharp's still a great pick, mind you, but for whatever reason it's only preferred to Milotic in singles and Smogon doubles, not VGC.

      Haze and Clear Smog have too much of an opportunity cost, you're better off switching out while you're at it.

      One interesting thing is that while Landorus-T and Mega Kangaskhan are still everywhere in Smogon doubles, their numbers are much lower than in VGC, presumably because being 6v6 means you have more resources at your disposal to handle them... maybe? I'm not sure, I'm no expert. Maybe the slightly different banlist (for instance Mega Salamence is off-limits, but many more legendaries are allowed) makes a difference. But that meta is still outrageously dominated by special attackers, to the difference that Talonflame is suddenly one of the top Pokémon and Salamence is virtually nonexistent because its mega isn't allowed.

      Honestly, I'd rather have Parental Bond keep a consistent effect. Maybe halve the damage the baby does? And/or apply special effects only once (read: Power-Up Punch)? I always thought it was kind of stupid that a BABY deals half the damage the huge-ass mother does.

    4. Slow I fully agree. But I have to ask. If we lower the power of the hardest hitting moves in the game, what would it accomplish? I mean, at the beginning of the generation when they nerfed the power of a lot of special attacking moves, what was the point? If it was to make special attackers less potent it didn't work too well. It worked, but not to a great effect.

      If we do the same thing with physical moves, how would that affect the meta game? Don't get me wrong I like the fact that they want the game to be as balanced as possible, but why didn't they lower the power of these physical moves in the first place?

      As for Scald, Lava Plume and Discharge not being kinda bothers me because of how common they are on most defensive Pokémon like Camerupt, Torkoal, Lanturn, Jellicent, etc. I feel that they could have lowered the power to, say, 70 power? Just because they're added effects are useful in a clutch situation.

      On the topic of Defiant and Competitive, yes Milotic is a very good option because it gets the +2 in Special Attack right off the bat, and because of how bulky it is. I love Milotic to death, Scald and Ice Beam, Recover and (insert move here) make for a deadly combo. I have come to learn that from both your Pokémon Emerald and Pokémon White LPs. But Bisharp has that all mighty Knock Off which is always useful. And yes, there are much better options for that role than Bisharp.

      Haze and Clear Smog are very risky to use, they are options, just not an option to use in a move set.

      And I've been using the Pokémon Global Link to see which Pokémon are the most used on Battle Spot Doubles . And Mega-Kangaskhan and Landorus-T are in the Top 3. Even at the Pokémon World Championships, they were on every team in the Top 8 in the Master's Division. I don't know why seeing as they have a large amount of not only special counters but physical counters as well. But I digress, that is in VGC Doubles.

      And yes, Parental Bond could have a similar effect to that nature. It isn't a bad idea. Especially since the baby can be the most deadly part of the attack. Depending on how much health you have left.

    5. I'd lower the power of physical moves for the simple reason that the current metagame, regardless of whether we're talking singles or doubles, is all about ridiculously hard-hitting threats, to such an extent that even the best defensive Pokémon have a hard time keeping up. Sure, Hydro Pump losing 10 power may not have an immediately obvious effect, but it still means you're missing out on OHKOs and 2HKOs you could pull off before.

  2. Couldn't M-Kangaskhan mitigate the impact of Intimidate with Power-Up punch, or is that too risky?

    1. But even then it'd put you at +1 instead of +2, so that's still a truckload of damage Intimidate slashes off - not to mention this is doubles, where you're not given as much time to set up as in singles, so yes, there's the risk factor. Besides, Low Kick tends to be the favored Fighting move in part because the pace is so fast. You're often better off using whatever Normal move you have, Fake Out or Sucker Punch depending on the situation.