Okay guys, it's official--the UU Senate finally came to a consensus on what we're going to ban. I feel like I owe the community a bit of an explanation for this taking so long, so here it is:
The first thing we did was have a preferential vote on what we were going to ban, the choices were:
1. Sand Veil
2. Sand Stream
3. Sand Veil + Sand Stream
The senate voted and there was a division between the first three choices, which led to the second phase of this vote - justifying our choices. Paragraphs for said justifications will be presented below.
Here's where it all went wrong though: Upstart is currently experiencing some personal problems which left him unable to take part in this vote. The vote was tied at 3 for a Sand Veil or combination ban and 3 for a Sand Stream ban, and with the 7th senator unable to vote, we had to wait for Jabba to make a decision on how we would proceed. He decided to act as the tie-breaker until Upstart is able to pick up his duty as a Senator again, which led to:
Ginku - Sand Stream
After thinking about Sand for quite some time now, I've ultimately come to the conclusion that while it may not be "too much" to handle in the sense that it's close to unbeatable, it does have a siginificant enough (negative) impact on the metagame to warrant a ban.
For one, we have Stoutland. While it's true that Stoutland is rather easy to beat with almost any Rock- or Steel-type, it definitely has strengths that make it a dangerous presence. On top of being rather hard to switch into sometimes without a healthy resist (who tend to lack recovery), it's an exceptionally good revenge killer, making it hard to set up a sweep against a Sand team, and can clean late in the game pretty often. So while Stoutland by itself is most definitely not broken, it's still a serious threat, and it's by far not all sand has to offer.
Another problem is the weather itself; losing 1/16 of your health every turn may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly, and it's not the only thing you take damage from. For example, a Life Orb Azelf will survive no more than five turns if it comes in on stealth rock, and that's assuming it isn't hit by any attack in the meantime, while a Weavile is done after 4 if it takes as much as a poke. Further, a number of walls rely on their leftovers to avoid some 2 or 3HKOs, and missing out on that recovery greatly weakens them; Snorlax is suddenly much less effective at walling a Zapdos while Slowbro finds itself in trouble trying to recover from Flygon's U turns. Similarly, Arcanine and Umbreon pretty much lose their only good option for recovery in Morning Sun/Moonlight, and Shaymin and Roserade probably wouldn't mind not having to switch after recovering either. This all adds up to sand more or less severely disadvantaging certain pokemon, limiting variety.
Finally, probably the biggest problem is Sand Veil. The thing that makes this so problematic is the combination of the the fact that it can and will have a huge impact on games and the fact that it's unavoidable, with only the user affecting the situation while the other player has no choice other than hoping that he hits. One could say that something relying on a 20% chance is not reliable enough to be called good or even broken, but if you consider the actual effect it can have on games, things change. A single miss on an important move can easily turn a lost game around, and unlike when choosing a low-accuracy move yourself, you're forced to rely on your inaccurate moves, without anything you can do about it. The problem is not that Sand Veil is broken in the sense that it's "too good", but rather that it actively encourages handing the control of the game to the RNG and additionally gives the user a potentially huge advantage, which really can't be what we want for the metagame.
In summary, I believe that while the individual parts of sand may be managable (for the most part), the combination of the additional pressure on frail Life Orb sweepers and walls relying on leftovers recovery, the revenge killing and sweeping cababilities provided by Stouland, and Sand Veil being an extremely dangerous factor that is completely unavoidable and out of one player's control make it detrimental to the metagame to a point where it should be banned for the sake of a more diverse and enjoyable tier. I also wouldn't be opposed to just a Sand Veil ban for the reasons explained above and it being the main problem, but to avoid complications with soft-bans or complex bans that don't fully solve the problem (Sand Stream+Sand Veil), I prefer this option.
PsYch071c - Sand Stream
Though sand has not quite held the same stranglehold on the UU tier as Deoxys-D or Hail, I believe that it limits teambuilding and overall diversity in the metagame enough to merit a ban. Though the ban of sand would eliminate Hippopotas from the tier entirely, and Stoutland would go from a top tier sweeper and revenge killer to an almost nonexistent threat, the positive effects on the metagame would far outweigh the negatives. Speedy and frail pokemon carrying Life Orb would no longer have to worry about combating Sandstorm damage after dealing with LO, hazard damage, and potentially recoil. Sandstorm shortens their already meager life span, and often it isn’t worth using a pokemon such as LO Arcanine or Darmanitan, who often get only one chance per game to attack before they die.
Sand may not be as popular as many other playstyles, but it is common enough that every team has to prepare for it. Sand limits teambuilding by forcing every offensive team to run a very defensive pokemon or bulky steel. If you choose not to, your team will be ripped to shreds by the best revenge killer in the game, Stoutland. This places restrictions on teambuilding and decreases the overall diversity in the tier, as basically every successful team ends up having either a Bronzong or Cobalion to combat sand. If sand was removed, teambuilding would become much more creative as a teamslot would no longer have to be completely dedicated to stopping sand. This will also lead to an increased viability of other playstyles, most notably heavy- or hyper-offense that rely so much on getting hazards down early. It would dramatically increase the effectiveness of Focus Sash leads such as Froslass and Azelf, because their sash would no longer be removed by sand, and hyperoffense could become a much more viable playstyle than it currently is.
Notice I did not say that sand is “broken” or “overpowered”. It is relatively easy to check, and it forces the opponent to waste their first teamslot on a baby hippopotamus. But the diversity that this ban would bring to the tier by increasing the viability of Life Orb sweepers and Focus Sash leads, and by not forcing every team to dedicate a teamslot to prepare for sand will make for a more creative, diverse, and ultimately, more competitive metagame.
Hippopotas for BL.
SJCrew - Sand Veil
We already banned Hail in large part because of Evasion. We've already banned Garchomp in large part because of Evasion. Evasion moves have been banned since Gen 1. What is the difference between Evasion abilities and other uncompetitive aspects the game we've ruled out thusfar....?
Nothing. It's an embarrassing loophole in our ruleset that we've never bothered to correct and continues to ruins games as we tie ourselves in red tape. Gen V UU already has been, and is still occasionally frustrating with otherwise manageable, terrible, or borderline joke Pokemon such as Sub Toxic Gligar or Cacturne being used on scrub teams to eek out wins from significantly better players who can plan for every contingency but missing their perfect-accuracy Ice Beam or Hidden Power twice. I will never support this as a healthy aspect of a strategy game.
Sand itself, by contrast, is a competitive strategy that competitive players use, planning around their frankly obvious strengths and weaknesses. It's noticeably dwarfed in capabilities by past weather suspects that have set the bar for what crosses the line in UU, and its only real abuser is scarcely debated and universally agreed upon as fair when scrutinized. On top of that, it isn't even common enough to make grounds for centralization, which lends even less credence to the idea that it causes undue stress on UU players.
Overall, I don't think anyone is losing their shit over the best revenge killer in UU when they can nonchalantly put one or more of of Rhyperior, Cobalion, Aggron, Brozong, Gligar, or others on their team to mitigate this problem. Failing that, they can also take advantage of bad predictions with dangerous checks like Chandelure or Trick Room NP Cofagrigus, who are much harder to counter than any Stoutland.
Heysup - Sand Steam + Sand Veil
OK, maybe I'm the only one who this has happened to but Sand teams are getting rarer and rarer. I haven't had a specific problem against them. Not even close to it, actually.
Sand has done nothing to stop me from using LO, Synthesis (even on the same sweeper), and the other moves you listed. It's not super common anymore, and if you find yourself spamming Synthesis or Morning Sun against a Sandstorm team you're not playing very effectively against it.
I'm all for banning things to make the metagame more fun for everyone, but you can't such a subjective choice to such a small amount of people. If we want to do something like that, for me to be able to support that in good conscience, we would need some sort of community wide vote or go back to fucking bold votes. And yes, you would still need reasoning for this. Without reasoning our positions are meaningless and monkeys could be running the senate and we would likely end up with the same metagame. This is being brought up currently in the suspect thread I think....but we should get this ban done before so we don't postpone it even LONGER.
The only thing I think is actually worth banning would be Sand veil because it's ridiculous to keep something so luck-based in the game when there's basically no reason to not do it. You aren't really soft-banning anything along with sand besides like Sandslash and that's going to be changed when his DW ability is released.
Now I also don't want to fuck with RU and NU just because we are lazy and don't want to combo ban (which would happen if we ban Sand Veil straight up). This combo ban, for all I care, can be a temporary thing until all or most of the relevant Pokemon have their DW abilities, but that seems a little complicated.
Unless we can an official "OK" from both of those councils, we need to do a combo ban of Sand Stream + Sand Veil.
kokoloko - Sand Stream
The primary reason why a ban on Sand Stream is on the table is not because the playstyle is overpowering/broken, it's because of the huge strain it puts on both teambuilding and the metagame around it. This has been discussed in the megathread, but once again here it is: The use of Morning Sun / Synthesis / Moonlight, and Life Orb on Pokemon who are not immune to Sand is heavily discouraged. Additionally, you almost feel obligated to run a Rock- or Steel-type on otherwise perfectly acceptable teams (remind you of the Dragon- / Steel- DPP OU? Yeah, me too). Pokemon such as SubCM Raikou are not as good as they 'should' be, and things like SubSeeding or ProtectSeeding become almost a liability when facing sand.
None of these factors seem to be crucial to the metagame, and hence not worth banning sand to undo, but after playing POs UU for a while (in which sand is banned right now), I realized just how much more enjoyable it is to have them be around and not worry about sand teams ruining your ladder experience. Actual experience trumps mere theory every single time (The FUK Dragons tournament, in which Salamence and Latias where banned, was one of the big reasons why these two were eventually banned from the metagame). Now, I'm perfectly aware that PO's UU is not the same as Smogon's UU by a long shot, but the key thing to remember is that it still gave me an idea of what a sandless metagame feels like and the benefits it could bring, allowing me to make a less subjective call.
Think about it, is there any particular reason why we shouldn't ban it when doing so brings clear competitive benefits to the metagame? At the root level, this is a choice between having either the option to use Stoutland and lolHippo, or getting to freely use all of the things I listed above without having them randomly decrease in effectiveness when you run into sand.
I wish people would stop getting caught up in the semantics of whether something is "broken" or not, it doesn't matter how you look at it, it's always going to be subjective. Why not make the most of it and create a better metagame?
I really gave it some thought, guys. This issue is a lot bigger than simply ticking the broken / not broken box. It's about improving the metagame as a whole, so for that reason, I choose to ban Sand Stream.
So, as you can see, there was no clear winner here without Upstart's vote, so Jabba had to break the tie, and with that, Sand Stream is now offically banned from UU
. He will make a post later on explaining his reasoning.
Also, if anyone is interested in the unofficial discussion paragraphs we wrote to each other for the preferential vote, ask us. I'm sure everyone would be happy to share it. (read: FlareBlitz's is really interesting)
I have already sent Antar a PM requesting the removal of Sand Stream from the ladder, so that should be done soon.
That is all.