I've already made one post referring to the Characteristics of a Desirable Metagame (found here
if you wish to read it). However, in that post I only referred to two characteristics, as I felt that those two alone were enough to condemn the bans in question. However, I've come to believe that a more comprehensive check of these bans against the CoaDM is in order, and as such I will do so now. I will go through each of the characteristics in order, and attempt to apply them to the current discussion at hand. Also, I'll be using hide tags instead of quote tags for each section so that this post doesn't get insanely huge. Any bolding within the hide tags is emphasis done by me, not something found in the source material.
The metagame should encourage players to play to win.
This characteristic may seem incredibly obvious, but it isn't if you consider how many aspects of other games are intended solely for enjoyment or entertainment. Nowhere is this more prevalent than ingame Pokemon, where the vast majority of the game is focused on exploration, adventure, collecting stuff, and general amusement.
The metagame should place little value on anything that is not inherently competitive, where players are directly or indirectly competing against other players with clearly defined results that determine winners. The metagame environment should reward winning, and encourage players to do anything possible within the rules in order to win. While some players may "play just for fun", or carry personal opinions about "winning the right way" -- these ideals should not be a focal point of the metagame. The metagame should attract players that find pure competition to be enjoyable in itself, and are most entertained when they win.
Issues and Concerns:
This makes the metagame "too serious" or "cutthroat"
"C'mon, this is Pokemon..."
This characteristic is really the fundamental underlying difference between the Pokemon GAME and the Pokemon METAGAME. Essentially, we are stripping out all the non-competitive elements of ingame pokemon, and playing metagames with the remaining competitive elements. Anyone serious about arguing this characteristic should read "Playing to Win" by Sirlin (www.sirlin.net
) to get an understanding of the general concept of "competition" in this context.
There is no particular conflict either way with this characteristic, as it is primarily referring to the aspects of the Pokemon games other than battling. SC/SV not BrightPowder and Lax Insence have any relation to this characteristic.
The metagame should have the widest possible variety of playing options and strategies that are viable and competitive for knowledgeable players.
As they say, "Variety is the spice of life". And nowhere is that more true than in the world of gaming. Game makers discovered long ago that players crave diversity, change, and improvement. That's why most successful games are very broad, and are constantly adding new elements. For this reason, a high-quality metagame should be inviting to a wide number of people and personalities. By constantly striving for maximum variety, we can maximize the potential player base, which has the inevitable effect of increasing the number of good players, good strategies, and overall quality of competition. A varied metagame is fresh and exciting, and provides a constant source for investigation and discovery.
If we limit variety, or allow it be reduced, we effectively "shrink" all aspects of the metagame. A game with limited variety is boring to all but the most diehard participants. In a low-variety metagame, the best playing strategies become widely known and predictable, and participation wanes. For this reason, we should constantly strive for as much variety as possible. And, when limits to variety become apparent, the limits should be removed, if possible.
Issues and Concerns:
Too much variety is chaos.
Variety without quality is useless.
No one can master a game with too many options
"Wide" is sufficient, not "widest"
How knowledgeable should players be?
This characteristic is typically underlying arguments about "centralization", or when people complain about the game being "boring".
Here comes the first strike against the bans, particularly the complex and flat ban on SC/SV. Either one of these options WILL have an impact on the variety of team combinations and Pokemon available, though admittedly it won't be huge. Still, banning the abilities certainly won't increase variety in any way, as it's not like they're anywhere near centralizing. No one runs anything specific to combat evasion abilities as is, as there is no need to when it only shows up in less than 1% of games. As such, if the bans are implemented there will be a net decrease in variety.
I don't think anyone can make a truly solid argument that SV/SC unbalance the game, given how rarely they appear and how rarely they affect the outcome of matches. Certainly, they are not overpowered by themselves. Maybe combined with Garchomp, but that's one Pokemon. You don't see us banning Stoutland in OU because Excadrill was overpowered, just because they share the same ability.
Again, this is another strike against the bans as the changes would cause some degree of instability. Now it would be fairly limited, as the changes are not large ones, but it would still create some instability as Pokemon like Froslass are removed. The real danger would be in lower teirs though, especially if the abilities were banned flat out, as multiple Pokemon would be removed from their respective teirs entirely. Still, this wasn't mentioned before because the change would be relatively small, and the resulting instability minor. Still, there's no reason to artificially cause any instability at this point. You could argue the game is becoming stagnant with all the volt-turners, but I doubt anyone would expect the elimination of SC/SV to change that.
The metagame should adhere as closely as possible to the rules, mechanics, and spirit of the actual Pokemon game.
We are not making a new game, we are metagaming the existing game of Pokemon. The actual Pokemon game itself should be the canon of the metagame. While we can question the choices and wisdom of the game makers, we must abide by the evidence of their creation. Any departure from the game itself, disconnects us from our foundation and begins down a slippery slope away from being a true "Pokemon metagame", towards becoming an entirely new game unto itself. If that happens, the metagame will lessen its fundamental appeal and connection to the player base. Adherence to the actual game ensures that all players can readily understand the mechanics of the metagame, and provides a common bond for all metagame players of all skill levels. This makes the metagame accessible to a wide audience of players, and creates an intrinsic recruiting base for new players.
Issues and Concerns:
Which version or versions should be adhered to?
What elements of the game are considered canon?
Basic gameplay, ingame challenges, sponsored tournaments, special events?
Is branded literature and game guides considered to be an authentic source for information?
The Pokemon game makers do not design for or care about the metagame -- why should we "obey" every stupid thing they do?
We will never have access to the source code of the real games, nor can we read the minds of the game makers. As such, we can only make educated guesses as to the rules, mechanics, and spirit of the pokemon game. And since the game itself has many hidden and unpublished mechanics, we must rely on ingame research to inform our opinions and metagame designs.
This is perhaps the biggest blow to the pro-ban arguments that I have not mentioned before. By trying to strip SC/SV from the game for no other reason than because we don't like it, we are vereing away from a true Pokemon metagame into something else. It is a small step in that direction, but according to this we are to adhere as closely as possible, not as closely as we feel like. This aspect is obviously overrode by the other characteristics, but so far we have yet to encounter another characteristic that suggests the bans are worthwhile. As such, according to this characteristic, what we SHOULD be doing is leaving this mechanic well enough alone.
This is the characteristic many pro-ban proponents make the core of their argument, but they seem to do it not truly understanding what the characteristic really refers to. The key sentence here is the last one, which points out, in no uncertain terms, that skill refers to the perception of the metagame as a whole and not to individual games. Neither SC/SV nor the evasion items make it so that skill is not rewarded the vast majority of times. While they may impact one game every now and then, overall the perception that skill pays off in Pokemon remains. No noob is going to get to the top of the ladder spamming evasion boosting items and SC/SV. The strategies are not nearly reliable enough. It might allow them to blindly luck through a game or two, but overall? They'll still suck. I also note that nowhere here does it say that Skill should be emphasized at the expense of other characteristics. Also, no where does it specify that luck factors are the anathema of skill. I hope that my point has been made clear here.
This also seems an apt place to point out why the evasion clause came into place in the first place. Many of the proponents claim that Double Team and Minimize were banned in the name of skill, not because they were broken. While the validity of this statement is up for debate, I would like to point out the vast difference in the scope of the evasion increasing moves as opposed to the abilities. The issue with the moves is that they have such an incredibly wide distribution. In fact, Double Team is learnable via TM in generation V by every last single Pokemon that learns TMs
. This is as opposed to Snow Cloak and Sand Veil, which combined have 28 Pokemon that have access to them, including NFE pokemon. If Double Team and Minimize were allowed, they WOULD have a wide impact on skill accross the entire metagame, perhaps to the point where we really would have a metagame where skill did not guarantee consistent success. That is the difference.
I've already gone over this, but I'll do so again. This here clearly, undeniably, with utmost clarity, states that even though some players supposedly claim to despise luck (I'm looking at you Alexwolf) that Smogon officially considers it to be a, I quote "postive feature of the game". It also quite clearly states that we should not seek "to eliminate or unreasonably reduce elements of chance". I don't know about you, but I fully consider that going to the lengths of a complex ban in order to remove a factor that only affects 1% of games or less is "unreasonable".
Alright this is the final nail in the coffin for the pro-ban argument. I believe I've quite clearly shown that these bans do not help the metagame at all, at least not according to the CoaDM. So, the question is, how DOES this unecessary ban hurt efficiency? Well for one it would cause more annoying hang ups for people trying to use new teams when the server won't let them on the ladder because they accidentally or unknowingly broke the new ban. It's a small concern, but it is just one more in what has quickly become a list of many.
Well look at that, it turns out that the bans negatively impact even more characteristics than I thought the did in my earlier, more casual analysis. I'd greatly appreciate if people would begin making rebuttals. I understand that this is MY interpretation of the CoaDM, and as such it may well be flawed. So, pro-ban proponents, I challenge you to find those flaws and make some arguments actually relevant to smogon policy. Make your arguments as to how I interpreted things wrong, and as how to your concerns outwiegh mine. Enough with the pointless auxillary arguments about whether or not leftovers or bright powder are more effective, or what the counters are to SV Gliscor and focus on the real core issues. Respond to this, because THIS is the criteria on which our decision should be made. If you can convincingly show that your interpretation is right, and that SV/SC and evasion items should be banned, then I will reconsider my position. But until then, let this stand as my ultimate argument for the council to consider. I believe that the decision, as the current evidence stands, is rather clear. So you had better get cracking pro-ban corner. The clock is ticking.