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Identifying a Design Philosophy

Discussion in 'BW OU' started by Crux, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. Crux

    Crux
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    This is being posted in both IS and DST to gauge the opinions of both the general public and badge-holders in order to see if some consensus can be arrived at.

    The purpose of this post is to start discussion about something we think has been missing from Smogon's tiering process: a clear design philosophy. While there have been numerous attempts to define measures by which something is "broken" or otherwise, we think that this discussion is failing to recognise the fundamental reasoning for banning Pokemon, moves, and abilities.

    It seems to us that at the heart of every suspect discussion is a tradeoff between two paradigms, and, while they clash, the banning process is an attempt to strike a balance between the two. What we think needs to happen in order to solve much of the conflict that occurs around the suspect process is deciding which of the two main aspects of competitive Pokemon we value most: Teambuilding long term strategy or tactical short term decisions. The purpose of this thread is to decide which of the two we value more than the other, because any decision making in the suspect process asks us to make this decision, but we are distracted by nebulous terms such as "broken."

    Take, for instance, 4th Gen Salamence. Salamence almost completely stagnated tactical decision making but strategically he wasn't too strong. Through teambuilding he could be played around. Eventually the community decided that he was bad and deserved to be banned from a tactical standpoint, even though he was totally fine from a strategic one. This same clash is exhibited in the Keldeo thread and is the underlying tone of most of the (admittedly bad) arguments that are calling for suspect testing.

    In a strategically focused game, we would want to go out of our way to ban every element that fundamentally limit strategy. The classic example of this would be Garchomp, which, as Matthew put quite well:
    This obviously deals with complaints about overcentralisation being equated to brokenness. Another important discussion to be had here is the differing kinds of strategy that exist and how we value those strategical options. What is the measure by which we value this diversity: types of playstyle or number of usable Pokemon?

    By contrast, if we opt for a more tactically focused game, we would want to eliminate the various elements of the game that limit and stagnate tactical decision making skills. The example of Salamence that was discussed earlier would be a good example of this. A more extreme example would probably be Stealth Rock, which epitomises the good strategy, bad tactical decision making conversation that we are having.

    In a few channels the conversation of Ubers being particularly well-balanced was brought up, where everything acts as checks. We would describe this as a more strategically balanced game, and perhaps the direction that we may wish to take OU. By contrast, OU is a horrid combination of the two paradigms that trends towards tactically balanced gameplay the longer it goes on. The purpose of this thread is to identify our design philosophy, but from this point it seems that popular opinion tends towards strategy rather than tactics.

    In conclusion we believe that the lack of a design philosophy stagnates our ability to ban things that stop us from creating an optimal metagame and allow constant discussion of stupid bans based on visceral reactions to losing a game to whatever you might now consider broken. We need a design philosophy in order to transition into Gen 6 because otherwise our suspect process will be similarly stagnant and bad, and no measure of leadership or definitions can fix that.

    Every single suspect is put under the crucible of scrutiny from two factions, one with the mindset of "can this be strategically mangaged" and the other "is this tactically acceptable" and from those conclusions do disagreements arise. One needs to be chosen over the other so that we don't continually put forth the grinded arguments that we repeatedly see. Settling a single philosophy allows us to move past this and with a more accurate perspective more quickly diagnose tiering issues, and deal with them.Not picking one over the other means that we will have more almost meaningless and fruitless tiering conversation in which everyone is arguing about different things, and we think this is not acceptable for the future of the suspect process.

    We are trying to draw a line in the sand here. This line needs to be clear, and discussion of it also needs to be clear. So, Smogon, where do we draw the line?

    EDIT: A third option could be perhaps weigh out each suspect in terms of strategic/tactical cost/benefits. For any given suspect: "This thing really sucks for tactical decision making, but strategically is a really fun aspect of this game, and that outweighs its tactical badness". This wasn't outlined in the body of the post because the intention is to bring forward the philosophies behind banning in order to bring discussion up to the proper level of analysis.

    Thanks to TheValkyries for his help.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  2. Matthew

    Matthew I love weather; Sun for days
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  3. Pwnemon

    Pwnemon Switching is a metagame trend
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    First, I'd like to emphasize that I hold with Kokoloko's oft-stated point that the main goal of our banning process is to make a fun metagame. With that in mind, I'd like to consider both a metagame of purely short-term tactical decisions and a metagame of purely long-term teambuilding strategy (also worth noting that unlike the typical uses, short-term in this thread means any decision that affects only one game, while long-term decisions affect or potentially affect more.)
    • In a metagame based off short-term tactical decisions, battles can be very intense. Neither player can afford to simply ride their laurels to the finish, and a good battle of wits ensues. However, when the same Pokemon are seen over and over again, people grow discontent. There are many games which have built themselves on a stock set of units (for example, Chess), but the reason most of us play Pokemon is for a richly varied cast of characters, because it's a new challenge every battle. With no variety in what we see when we hit "find battle," we quickly grow bored. The main complaint with a metagame of this style is that it is stale.
    • In a metagame based off of solely long-term teambuilding strategy, matches themselves are boring. The better data analyst and number cruncher will win the majority of the time; however, we have a deep-seated belief that that's different from being a Pokemon "player." Intense battles, comebacks, and even just the human element are more or less lost in such a metagame, in which players act more like the general manager of a baseball team than the commander of a battlefield. Furthermore, there's a solid chance for a better player to lose a tournament because of a team matchup in which there was simply nothing they could do, so ladders are the better method of determining who is the best player. Let's face it though, ladders are boring as ass compared to high-stakes tournament matches. The main complaint with a metagame of this style is that games are decided before they are started.
    It's worth noting that either extreme sounds kind of awful. We play Pokemon instead of something else for a variety of reasons, but, as I said, one of the major ones is that we love the variety in teams we get to face, which makes a metagame based on purely short-term decisions sound undesirable. However, despite that flaw, I would very much prefer a decision-focused metagame to a strategy-focused metagame. In the latter extreme, single battles become virtually meaningless, played on autopilot because there is no intensity involved in deciding the victor. I believe most people agree with me, since the complaints I mostly see about gen V OU are that it tends toward being team matchup-based and thus less reliant on player skill than earlier metas—especially gen ii, which was as far as Pokemon has ever gone in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I have to give a cop out answer like "we need to find a medium to keep our game intact" — however, Pokemon is at its heart a strategy game, and that can still be played if all we have are short-term decisions. The most popular games in the world are short-term decision only (I already mentioned Chess earlier in this post). If all we have is long-term strategy, then fuck, we're not playing a game at all. For that reason, I'd prefer if we focused on removing things which lead to autopilot play moreso than things which remove metagame diversity. Alternatively we should all play doubles, the meta game freak balances for, like a big happy family. then we don't have to worry about shit like this
  4. Chou Toshio

    Chou Toshio @Fighting Necktie
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    I posted this in IS but I think it's important data for this discussion in general so:

    According to my first survey, the vast majority of members believe that Team Building and Prediction/Decision Making should be valued exactly equally. I don't have the data right in front of me, but if I really correctly, it was something like this:

    Team Building should be valued more: 4%
    Prediction/Decision should be valued more: 8%
    The two should be valued EXACTLY the same: 88%

    edit 3:

    Also relevant, rated on 1-10 importance in last survey:

    Importance of Diversity of Metagame (Pokemon): 7.77
    Importance of Diversity of Team Style Diversity: 7.84

    So you got two measurements that are basically rated equally in the eyes of the players. Their Top Box scores are almost identical as well btw. I didn't run stats, but I imagine they're not stat significant.




    some brief opinion stuff:

    edit: Also Mence was just banned because it was the popular argument of the whinier side at the time, and DPP's community always banned things it suspected. You will not convince me it wasn't arbitrary.

    edit2: Also keep in mind, if we want to re-structure tiering around ideals, we're talking about getting rid of any mass voting system. Mass voting is inherently impossible to measure for anything but popular opinion. It's the popular opinion of better ladder players, but it's still just popular opinion-- you won't REALLY get people building the tier based off of philosophical ideals. As it stands, philosophical ideals can at least steer the boat in terms of what we allow to be suspected, but that's what it's limited to.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
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  5. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 0 superbowl wins since SPYGATE

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    I really want to point out how that's like having a poll that asks "Do you want to be communist, anarchist, or somewhere EXACTLY in between".

    The two paradigms of strategy vs tactics is a spectrum, and the idea here is to articulate that this spectrum exists, and try to identify where Smogon wants to stand within that spectrum. Honestly, we collectively don't have to be all that specific, I'm content so long as people have a better understanding over where they personally stand on this spectrum, and recognize when arguments over a suspect fall on philosophical/ideological differences rather than anything else.

    The reason the "whinier side" was whining at all was because Salamence was blatantly messing with the tactical decisions being made, and if one made the wrong choice, they would be heavily punished. However, from the strategically minded camp, Salamence was rather easily checked and could easily be played around to not too much cost and therefore fine. The important thing is not WHY Salamence was banned, but rather the fundamental source of the disagreement over its ban.

    Steering the boat is totally fine! The philosophy isn't going to turn tiering into a black and white, rain or shine (heh) process of "violates the philosophy" and "doesn't violate the philosophy". It's only going to clearly articulate where discussion on tiering should occur, not necessarily what the ultimate conclusion of the tiering process will be.



    EDIT:
    While this was pointed out in the OP, I want to stress the question of "Do we value more viable mons, or more viable team strategies"? Is almost every team being grounded in weather setting strategically okay with us, so long as there's tons of viable mons to run around, or no?
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
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  6. jpw234

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    I am, frankly, amazed that this is still a point of discussion and I think that arguments like those of Pwnemon (who I'm only singling out because he happens to be the one who posted it here, but I've seen it all over) suffer from a lack of depth. What we are dubbing in this thread to be a "strategic" or "long-term" focus is clearly what we should be promoting.

    Consider the bans that occur in a "tactical" metagame. We ban only things which are broken in the sense of being too powerful - tactically overwhelming; namely, there's no way to deal with them. A tactical focus means that if something is counterable it is included without concern for the health of the game as a whole. This is really really really bad and is the cause of the majority of complaints about the current BW2 metagame. Things that people bitch/have bitched about are threats like Genesect, Excadrill, Keldeo, Landorus-I, Drought and Drizzle. It is pretty much accepted that even at the peaks of their respective effectiveness, none of these threats were/are unmanageable - that is it wasn't as though there wasn't an answer to them. A purely tactical focus (which is hyperbolic, obviously, as any policy will include both, but even a focus skewed toward tactics) would be one that doesn't ban these threats, or foot-drags for months until the metagame becomes completely unbearable to everybody involved (...remind anybody of something?).
    In contrast, a "strategic" banning policy attempts to identify threats which are unhealthy to the strategic pool that teambuilders can choose from. This is fairly simple to understand. No team can counter every possible pokemon, they all make tradeoffs to cover some more than others, and they all have strengths and weaknesses. But a logical teambuilder will attempt to minimize his vulnerability to common, powerful threats by including specific pokemon to counter them. The existence of overwhelmingly threatening pokemon like Genesect or Keldeo creates a situation where a good teambuilder has a limited pool of pokemon to choose from if he wishes to minimize his weaknesses. Consider - a reasonably well constructed team could have an unexpected weakness to Magic Guard Sigilyph, but this may be an acceptable cost in order to be less vulnerable to more common threats. But having a weakness to Keldeo is never an acceptable cost because of its popularity in the metagame. This creates a stagnant metagame where a small number of pokemon can be justified by a cost/benefit analysis, and the inclusion of a pokemon weak to any common threats is probably not worth it to your team.

    Those who sympathize with Pwnemon generally make the assertion that a tactically focused metagame rewards battling skill, and a strategically focused metagame rewards teambuilding skill. They then proceed to compare the two skills and determine that since battling skill is more important we should promote a tactical meta. This logic seems sounds but is based on a faulty premise - that a strategically focused metagame exclusively promotes teambuilding to the detriment of battling. This is an unfounded assumption that I have not once heard a justification for. We've already examined why a focus on tactics precludes those rich teambuilding possibilities, but it is not true that a focus on strategy would preclude battling skill and create a metagame where "the battle is decided based on team matchup beforehand", as Pwnemon asserts.

    A strategically-focused metagame, by its nature, expands the viable pool of pokemon and team archetypes. The assertion seems to be something like this: "There will be more team archetypes in a strategically focused meta. Team archetypes are naturally weak to some archetypes and strong against others. Teams will all neatly fit in to an archetype, therefore by looking at the archetypes of two teams before a battle we will know who will win before it even happens." This is flawed because of the assumption "Team archetypes are naturally weak to some archetypes and strong against others."

    Go back to our discussion of the logical teambuilder, attempting to minimize his vulnerability to common threats. In the strategic metagame, rather than a small number of predictable threats, there are a large number of diverse threats to worry about. But the answer is not to say, "fuck it, I'll beat 50% of them and lose to 50% of them". The answer is to build a solid team which has a diversity of offensive/defensive options and utility pokemon that allow you to hedge yourself against broad swaths of the possible threatlist. This is made possible because while there are a bunch of pokemon there are fundamentally a limited number of TYPES of pokemon - physical wallbreaker, special wallbreaker, revenge killer, bulky offensive, physical wall, special wall, etc. You can build your team against pokemon types and be reasonably safe against most threats out there without becoming excessively coinflippy.

    This negates the presumption that a strategically focused metagame sacrifices battling ability. In a strategically focused metagame you have more opportunities to use innovative and diverse pokemon and strategies - but all serious battlers will do this in the pursuit of one goal: to protect themselves from as much of the meta as possible. This means that battling skill will still be a large factor in our scene. Any team which is designed to take advantage of team matchups will average out to a 50/50 win rate, but a solidly built balanced team (balanced in terms of covering a spectrum of threats, not in terms of offensive/defensive) will be able to win more in the long run. Thus, while a tactical focus loses abandons teambuilding skill (which I think is much more important than battling skill anyway, but that's another argument) for battling, a strategic focus gives the benefits of both.

    I apologize for the wall of text but I feel strongly about this issue. Please, if you have questions or disagree, post because I want to discuss this more.
  7. /B/utterfree

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    Honestly, a metagame that incorporates a lot of fun and creativity without causing problems is what should be a balanced metagame (for tactics - if you're not having fun using a tactic, why use it?, and for strategy - if the strategy is not creative, will it provide a balanced metagame if people are just going to brush it aside?). People claim an overall power creep to be responsible for Stall no longer being the master race of Pokemon that it was back in Gen II and Gen III. While I could in theory see that in Gen IV, even Gen V has been able to properly counteract a lot of issues faced with Pokemon getting more and more powerful offensively as the Generations go by. I would like to scoff and call "the power creep" poppycock, but I'm afraid my beloved Dusknoir just isn't the same in Gen V OU as it was in Gen IV OU (where it actually was a cool SubPuncher I could get behind; it's still an adorable SubPuncher but Gen V has way too many fast threats for which the set can be anything short of "kill bait" for those damned Kyurem-Bs) :/

    That said, with defensive Pokemon like Ferrothorn and Jellicent becoming kings of OU this Generation I'm a bit mystified as to the continued argument of "the power creep" for when a 'mon gets too defensive for the tier's liking (*cough*Deoxys-D*cough*), and then "the power creep" is used as an excuse to KEEP 'mons way too offensively powerful for the tier (Kyurem-B, ffs; not to mention Keldeo and Terrakion are both doing a wonderful job with that nice Speed tier). I may be just one ban-happy Smogonite, but even I have problems with banning some things.

    When people say specific techniques should be banned (Scald? Really?), I wonder if they are trying to get more fun out of the tier or just try to make a balanced metagame but doing so poorly. As much as I hate Stealth Rock, I also would hate if Volcarona and Yanmega started ruining the OU tier once Stealth Rock was taken out of the equation completely. Or, I don't know, the sudden lack of value in RapidSpinners and spinblockers once Stealth Rock was banned to Ubers might take out some of the creativity that would make for a pretty solid metagame.

    People who argue Drizzle and Drought to be banned seem to think negative impacts outweigh positive impacts. If it weren't for Drizzle Politoed, I couldn't run Parasect in OU at all (among a large handful of other Pokemon whom Drizzle benefits). If it weren't for Drought Ninetales, forget having Stallmons with Moonlight or Synthesis on my team (looking at Cresselia and Torterra specifically, albeit many other Pokemon also are of note) for super-reliable recovery. A lot of Dream World adds fun, and those two Pokemon are what allow the rest of the Gen V OU metagame to have some semblance of balance. Otherwise it would be a rehash of Gen IV OU with more ridiculous offensive 'mons (as well as Ferrocent core) with an occasional Pokemon with a Dream World ability showing up to either be a cool guy or be a complete and utter nuisance (Speed Boost Blaziken falls under the latter), or otherwise a new Pokemon basically to get promoted to Ubers simply because Sand and Hail would be the only weathers if Drizzle and Drought were banned in B1W1 (Excadrill would have just been banned a whole lot faster if Drizzle and Drought didn't claim to check it). A lot of Dream World also implements creativity (which Drizzle and Drought permit more prominently than most other DWAs, not going to lie).

    Teal Deer; Tactics v. Strategy? I think both of those involve being creative and having fun. If something in a metagame prevents innovation and enthusiasm from the rest, why keep it unbanned?
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2013
  8. ginganinja

    ginganinja Dating Haunter
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    You really have to be careful about arguments like this. What you just said boils down to "Lets keep something (potentially) broken in OU because I like using Parasect and Torterra in OU", which is really flawed and a terrible argument. For example, I liked Excadrill in OU because it made my Gravity Team viable. Despite this, I still believe its broken, and would vote against dropping it down to OU even if it boosted something I like using. Dream World abilities might make certain things fun, but that shouldn't be a reason to hypothetically keep something broken in OU (which is what your post implies). If its broken we ban it, we certainly don't keep it around because it allows people to use mediocre pokemon in OU, or promotes a certain style of play.
  9. Ulevo

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    Unfortunately that's precisely the reason Drizzle + Swift Swim were banned together, and not Drizzle itself.

    As for a more pertinent point of this discussion, I feel as though there is an unnecessary misconception here.

    1. Broken: A Pokemon, move, item, or ability that is overpowered to a degree in which its use in competitive play is mandatory in order to remain competitively successful. A Pokemon, move, item, or ability that provides an advantage that cannot reasonably be overcome through player skill or experience at the highest level without the reliance or use of the same Pokemon, move, item, or ability.

    2. Uncompetitive: A Pokemon, move, item, or ability that removes strategic element, skill, or relevant choice from either player by emphasizing reliance on luck based outcomes.


    These are more or less what I feel are the definitive parameters that should be used in order to judge or assess whether or not a Pokemon should be suspect tested.

    If a Pokemon satisfies the context 1. suits, then it is not going to be able to be handled either tactically or strategically. I would also like to add that you can't handle a Pokemon strategically but not tactically. Strategic elements and planning are an extension of the relevant decisions you make in your moment to moment play. If you are unable to make relevant decisions in moment to moment play because something is broken, meaning you do not have the tools to deal with it effectively, then your strategy isn't working. Tactical and strategical play are not exclusive to one another, they are directly related and affect each other.
  10. X5Dragon

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    You tend to browse through the previous suspect test when trying to answer these kind of questions, and if you look careful you will notice a common theme: smogon loves it's diversity and having as many options as possible when it comes to team building. Any pokemon or ability that otherwise pushes a playstyle to be the dominant force in the meta or constrains team building to the point you are literally reserving a spot (and arguably playing with 5 pokemon) just to counter a specific threat will most likely get banned.

    Examples of the first, certain playstyles being the dominant force: Swift Swim Teams, Deo + 5, Rain HO (Thundrus-I, Tornadus-T).
    Examples for the second, putting constraints on team building: Blaziken, Excadrill, Genesect, Deo-D, Landrous-I

    I tend to believe that the short term part takes a secondary role in deciding whether or not a pokemon is broken, and if it's the only reason the pokemon itself might not receive a majority census to suspect test it, as seen with Kyurem-B. Yes Kyurem on paper and in reality is very hard to switch into and has massive power and a great mixed set, however as said in the OP you can play around him and can kill him with widely available OU pokemon, so there are no team constraints when facing him and he doesn't push a particular playstyle to be the dominant force in the meta.

    So I personally believe we should focus on the long term, is this pokemon/ability making one playstyle the best, is it forcing me to place a niche or specifc check or a counter or an answer regardless of my own playstyle or otherwise I'm at a severe disadvantage?

    Short term may help to strengthen the cause, but it alone shouldn't be a deciding factor on whether or not a pokemon is broken and bad for the meta.

    Edit: Short term discussions are ideal for move and item bans.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  11. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 0 superbowl wins since SPYGATE

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    Honestly, I've spent a fair bit of time in the past two days trying to reason with myself about what kind of metagame Smogon has been trying to make in these recent generations, and trying to precisely define the philosophy. And I want to point out that I say "has been trying to make" in the past tense intentionally, because what I'm intending to do with this whole shebang of "Design Philosophy" is really properly outline and define what Smogon has always tried to do, and put it into "new" understandable terms to not only better our analysis of suspects but also to more clearly define a goal for balancing/tiering in future generations. This isn't an attempt to radically push Smogon towards something different, but to push Smogon towards a more clean cut approach to tiering. Ultimately, not much will change about what happens in tiering with a Design Philosophy articulated, the only thing that will change with an implementation of a general Design Philosophy is the way we think about tiering and how we approach our analysis of each suspect. In a perfect world, it would remove the word broken from conversation when it comes to a suspect. However failing that, it will at the very least allow us to remove its nebulous and arbitrary nature, and better define what we collectively think is "broken" rather than having many varying opinions on what is or isn't broken.


    Now, I think we tend to forget or marginalize the importance of Strategy in Pokemon. The very fact the we have multiple tiers of Pokemon to allow for variance in viability is proof of how important it is. In some cases you will outright lose a match entirely because of the match-up advantage. No matter how strongly you believe in your playing ability, Timmy McCarthy, 9, from Bumfuck, Ohio, will use his totally radical Specs Solar Power Charizard in the sun to crush your rank 1 Little Cup team. I'm sorry. It's just a fact of the game.

    Whilst that is a more extreme example, it does outline that strategically speaking, we've never catered towards the ability of using whatever Pokemon you wish in a metagame. If a Pokemon is a dominated choice, one that there is little to no reason to ever use, we do not go to any lengths to fix that.

    However, arguments of centralization still arise, where a metagame is too stagnant, and there aren't enough choices. Arguments of "match-up advantage" still occur as well, especially in this weather dominated metagame. From this I infer that what people REALLY refer to with that, is not the lack of available, usable Pokemon (of which there are plenty in this metagame), but rather a lack of team archetypal options. Strategies are limited to fall under one of three realistic categories: Rain, Sun, Sand. Arguments can be made for a weatherless branch as well, but I feel those are more "anti-metagame" teams rather than actual strategies being implemented without weather.

    From this I infer that a lack of team archetypal diversity is a common complaint. We want to be able to choose from a wide variety of gambits to win games with, and NOT be forced to carry a select few Pokemon to deal with a threat.

    What this translates to is that strategically we desire a diversity of playstyle options, the freedom to not be FORCED to carry a select few Pokemon, and we do not care about accommodating dominated choices.


    Tactically speaking Smogon has disliked any Pokemon that has enough power that they can mindlessly be used to cause devastating damage to a team. Very often we see people citing damage Calculations to show how "Pokemon 'x' can 2 hit the world!" showing how its raw power allows it to instantly force irreparable, possibly even critical damage to a team simply by existing in the metagame. This shows a conscientious concern over counterplay, or the ability to respond/react to the plays the opponent makes.

    The more extreme representations of this concern are showed in the actions of banning things like Shaymin-S, Speed Boost Blaziken, or Moody, in which our inability to respond would lead to not just critical damage to a single Pokemon, but potentially even entire team sweeps, with no chance to react. This concern is even directly tied to Doug's characteristics in "A Pokemon's ability to with little support sweep through a vast majority of the metagame." In my alternate interpretation this is a Pokemon who simply by existing is able to do catastrophic damage to any team in the metagame, and by virtue of the little support shows that there is not much we can do as an opponent to prevent it.

    From this I claim that philosophically we have very much been on the lookout for anything that is so tactically powerful that it causes irreparable damage to the point that even having the POTENTIAL of causing critical damage to a team by virtue of existing has been a ban-worthy/suspect offense.


    (This I guess is the tl;dr)
    Overall then I see Smogon's Philosophy as being something along the lines of:

    Strategically:
    -Desire for a diversity of playstyles.
    -Desire to NOT be forced to carry one of a small selection of Pokemon.
    -A blatant lack of accommodations made for dominated choices of Pokemon, or a desire to NOT value individual Pokemon diversity.
    Tactically:
    -Desire for counterplay (Which fundamentally rewards good in-game decisions and playmaking).

    (end of tl;dr)


    Now I'm certain my analysis is incomplete and I haven't provided comprehensive examples of these latent philosophies. Due to my unfamiliarity, I wasn't able to with any certainty attribute a philosophy to Doug's other characteristics, or attribute those characteristics to being a part of any of my already outlined philosophies if they are. Naturally then, this small list of philosophies is not comprehensive and therefore can be added on to. I hope someone can and does so!

    Again, the ultimate goal here is to entirely remove the variance of ideas about "what is broken" when discussing a suspect so the list of philosophies needs to be comprehensive enough that we can with confidence say "If it does not violate any one of these philosophies then it simply isn't suspect." This will not only give a more clear goal when tiering (A metagame in which all of these desires are adequately met), but also give clearer points of discussion for a suspect in the future. Additions can be made and will be necessary to further refine the collective philosophy.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
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  12. i excel

    i excel Banned deucer.

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    I don't think one necessarily outweighs the other. As far as competitiveness goes, neither side can pull ahead. If we were to focus on building a metagame around teambuilding strategy, team match up would end up deciding a lot of battles. If we choose to focus on making tactical decisions, we would have to accept that a lot of decisions are ultimately guesswork. I like to think of it like competitive poker. Making the right plays can be used to save you from a a bad hand. Ultimately I think a healthy balance of both is ideal, and we should move forward by weighing the two against eachother when debating future suspects. This seems to me the only likely solution considering how many people value one over the other.
    VN. and AB2 like this.
  13. Ulriken

    Ulriken

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    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but I’m not sure how we could ever claim to give one precedence over the other. Strategy and tactics are two integral parts of the Pokémon metagame and cannot be taken away, nor undervalued.

    Simply choosing one over the other in order to prevent rehashing arguments is a terrible plan. Change for the sake of change is not conducive to a long-term viable game. If we choose one to be considered “Ideal A” and begin to undervalue arguments based on “Ideal B”, we’re talking about a radical shift in policy to the point that it is no longer the same game. Pokémon is not the same without its teambuilding, nor is it the same without the opportunity for better players to make in-game decisions that allow them to win. (For this matter, nor is it the same without an element of luck involved, which itself introduces variations that force players to constantly adapt to changing game conditions). There is no guarantee that we would end up at one of these extremes but there seems to be no reason to step onto that road.

    A tactically dominated metagame would result in exciting individual games that highly reward excellent play, but suffers extraordinarily in replay value. The only fair tactical matchup is to have the same options available to each player during the game. This eliminates the teambuilding element, and thereby one of the main draws to playing Pokemon over the variety of other strategy games.
    A completely strategic metagame fares no better. In this situation the game becomes entirely about what is done beforehand, the game itself is merely the carrying out of predetermined forces. A successful team under a strategically focused metagame will of course be built with skill-there’s no way around that. It will not become a 50-50 toss-up, better-built teams that cover more threats will rise to the top. But the fear is that this skill will only result in your team beating 75% of the other teams-100% of the time. Against the other 25%, you lose, 100% of the time. This as well is a very frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying game to play.

    My main point is that not only is devotion to only one of these ideals will not only result in an undesirable game, it will cease resembling the game of Pokemon that we know and love. A balance between the two is crucial to the essence of Pokemon.

    In addition, regardless of which of these two is placed as highest, there are other characteristics that must be remembered as well, and it is dangerous to attempt to boil it down to a 1 vs 1 question. These include such topics Simplicity and Adherence, as well as the others stated in Characteristics of a Desirable Metagame. (I’m sure most everyone here has read it, but for anyone new browsing definitely go read this.) I'll give an example to explain the intersection. We may decide that the "strategy" ideal is best supported by having the largest variety of options available to the teambuilder. For this reason one might suggest that Blaziken, sans Speed Boost, be reintroduced into OU (where it would almost certainly not be overpowered). We have steadfastly refused to do this, because we have decided that in these types of cases, the ideal of simplicity (of ruleset) outweighs that of "strategy".

    I also do not understand the problem with the word “broken.” If there’s any problem, it’s that it remains undefined, though that seems to be… Broken simply means that a Pokemon (or other element, though we need to better articulate our position regarding this) violates one of the core ideals which we ascribe to our metagame. In practice, that may mean that it violates the tactical ideal because there is simply no way to stop it/play around it, it will fulfill its purpose regardless of the opponent’s play. In a similar way, a Pokemon violates the strategy ideal if it becomes impossible to build quality teams without either including it or overly compensating for it.

    Now obviously both of these are subjective evaluations, and they will always stay that way.
    Do we occasionally have a problem with people overusing/ rushing to use the word "broken"? Probably. Is there anything wrong with the word? No.

    Even if we do (foolishly) decide to choose one ideal over the other, this in no way stops the problems outlined. People will still complain about Keldeo, they'll just say it's "too tactical" or "not strategic enough." The problem isn't a lack of reference point, its a lack of coherent reasoning. Changing the topic will only result in equally bad arguments about different things.

    EDIT: had a few repeated paragraphs resulting from the transfer from Word, no content changed
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
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  14. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 0 superbowl wins since SPYGATE

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    I think there's a misunderstanding here. This isn't a "Tactical or Strategic: Pick one" exercise. This is an attempt at defining the philosophy Smogon has approached tiering with in a more articulate and clear sense. Smogon has already decided how it wants to tier, and what it fundamentally cares about. Capturing those "core ideals", as Ulriken put it, and writing them down in a readable way allows us to elucidate future discussion on the topic by removing individual subjective design preferences in favor of a unified Smogon Official preference. And yes, these core ideals are fundamentally subjective preferences, as is all design! Them being subjective evaluations does not make them intrinsically inferior. As I said, Smogon has ALREADY decided its core ideals and philosophies. It's tiering process up to this point has always been subjective. This is only an attempt to properly define them.
  15. Ulriken

    Ulriken

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    I don't think viewing this as a "pick one exercise" is an unfair conclusion to reach.

    Looking at the rest of your (TheValkyries) post however, I understand what you're trying to do, which is (if I'm understanding you correctly) define exactly what a quality metagame looks like from a tactical standpoint and from a strategic standpoint. I think your first post is a good start to this conversation. This is not the same as what was presented in the OP however, which was simply "make a choice or we're wasting our time."

    I retain my doubts regarding the effectiveness of coming up with clearly defined ideals (I think we'll still just disagree over their individual applications), but it certainly cannot hurt to at least be all on the same page. I do believe we're already pretty close in that we all mostly want the same things, but maybe this thread will be able to result in something definite/explicit that we can all agree on.
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  16. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 0 superbowl wins since SPYGATE

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    Yeah, I can totally see how the OP can make that unclear. When Crux and I were talking about it, we were operating under the frame of mind of "When the two perspectives clash", so we basically wanted everyone to just "Pick One that you want to care about" in order to make everything easier. We later realized that may not be a reasonable solution so we added in the option to basically do a cost/benefit analysis on the suspect for when the strategic perspective of "broken" and the tactical perspective of "broken" are not in unison.

    As an example, for cases like Gen 4 Salamence, Sally was strategically perfectly fine, but tactically overbearing. Then people's variance in individual preferences would create endless circular arguments where people would say "But he 2hko's everything" (Tactical Complaint), and the response was "But he has so many checks!" (Strategic Response). The fact that these arguments weren't even talking about Salamence from the same perspective made these arguments become horribly unproductive. So with the OP we were trying to get everyone on the same page by forcing one of the perspectives to be placed higher than the other. However this was more of an edge case and proved to be misleading.

    So yes, my second post is probably a better starting point for discussion. And very much so yes, the goal here is simply to get everyone very explicitly on the same page.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013
  17. Pwnemon

    Pwnemon Switching is a metagame trend
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    hey jpw, i think you largely misunderstand where I'm coming from here, so I'm going to restate my position in form of a counterargument.

    You're pretty drastically differing in this paragraph from the explanation of "tactical" given in the op, at least as i and valks understood it. OP gives the example of Salamence as a Pokemon that the people favoring a tactical outlook called to ban—yet, as a player of the DPP metagame myself, i rarely found myself swept by Salamence. The problem was not that it was unmanageable, but that it was mindless. in my own post i specifically said "I'd prefer if we focused on removing things which lead to autopilot play," because that's the actual main problem with the metagame—when you can play on autopilot, it's boring as fuck.

    For examples, you state that Keldeo and Genesect are manageable Pokemon, and thus Pokemon that people with a tactical outlook would defend. However, I want all three of them banned. With Keldeo, you can simply spam Hydro Pump and win, though it is nearly perfectly countered by Celebi and pretty manageable overall. With Genesect, it wasn't much harder: you actually had to pick the appropriate coverage move, or, if the opponent had a Pokemon on their team that could take it, U-turn into either Dugtrio if they switched or a counter if they didn't. It didn't require much strategy or deliberate play in order to use.

    This is not my argument at all, and it seems to be the basis of our disagreement. As I understood it, a metagame which takes a purely strategic approach to Pokemon and ignores the tactical side would not ban Pokemon that promote autopilot play yet do not centralize the metagame. A perfect example of this would be trappers. From a purely tactical standpoint, trapping is pretty lame and possibly suspect worthy; from a purely strategic standpoint, there is nothing wrong with it. The more pokemon we allow that promote autopilot play, the more the battle is decided before it is started. A strategically focused metagame wouldn't ban things that make battles fun, but it would leave unbanned those that make battles boring, which is equally detrimental to tactical play.

    I'd argue that it would be the tactical approach that will likely give the benefits of both. Most Pokemon that only have one or two counters tend to be pretty mindless to play (like genesect and keldeo), so testing them both increases metagame diversity and skillful play. There are furthermore many things that are pretty mindless yet don't decrease metagame diversity (arena trap or the move u-turn being two i can think of) which I believe should be tested. However, I can't really think of any Pokemon that, despite centralizing the metagame, weren't mindless to play, at least in gen V.

    In all, it seems like we're working toward the same goals, but some fundamental misunderstandings of philosophies has been dampening communication. Which is why i'm glad this thread is here!

    Either way, I'm interested in hearing your argument as to why teambuilding is the more important skill (well, not more important per se because we all know that in gen v teambuilding /is/ the more important skill, but why good teambuilding is more conducive to a fun metagame than tactical plays)
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  18. jpw234

    jpw234

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    Okay Pwnemon, thanks for that last post because it clarified a bunch of stuff and I do think I probably misinterpreted some of what you said.

    In fairness I think that there is a lot of overlap between these two things. Generally the unmanageable things are mindless, but I would grant that there are mindless things that aren't unmanageable such as SR that the "tactical" approach might handle. However, these mindless things are additionally handled by a strategic approach. Things which are mindless by definition can't be strategically planned for and probably work to limit strategic options - ex. SR crimping every flying/fire/ice pokemon, Pursuit screwing Psychic/Ghost types, etc.
    A point here is that you seem to be saying that the strategic focus only would ban based on overcentralization, which I think is not the case. Overcentralizing pokemon do hurt the pool of strategic options, so that would be a criteria. But other factors which can't be strategized against and limit the pool would be considered too, such as your example of trapping (clarification - trapping can be "strategized against" in the sense that you can build a team without using pokemon susceptible to it, however, this still has the effect of removing those pokemon from the pool of viable options). Based on that, I don't see many areas where the strategic approach would fall behind the tactical one. However I do see weaknesses on the tactical side, the biggest one being that it can't handle when there is an metagame imbalance on the level of team archetypes, rather than individual pokemon.

    The most obvious example is Drizzle/Drought in the current meta. These strategies are not mindless at all, in fact there are a wide variety of styles and tweaks within the broad Rain/Sun archetypes and you certainly can't just use Politoed and expect to win. However, they do have the effect (as I have expanded upon elsewhere in the debate thread on Drizzle) of limiting the pool of viable pokemon and team archetypes, thereby creating a strategic disadvantage. Is that fair?

    As to this, I am about to go back to college over the weekend, but after that I plan on writing (in a separate post) a very long and detailed manifesto dealing with this subject.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2013
  19. Magicxgame

    Magicxgame

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    K, this is going to be a massive post. I'm probably re-treading some ground covered in this thread or other Suspect-related threads, but since this thread is actually stickied, I'll make my opinion known anyway.

    To reiterate the OP, this thread shows the biggest problem of Suspect Testing: Smogon has no clear path or vision for Suspect Testing. The fact that people are still debating the fundamentals of "What makes X Pokemon broken?" half a decade(!) after Suspect Testing began is a fucking joke. The whole process is a mess from beginning to end, and until Smogon starts working on the basics, threads like this are absolutely pointless.

    1. Bans Should be a Last Resort
    I firmly believe that we should aim to ban as little as possible. As competitive players, our goal is first and foremost to try our hardest to win, and we should use any viable strategy that lets us achieve victory. Bans should only come around after the community has exhausted every other option and has determined that a Pokemon is truly causing the metagame to deteriorate.
    But a lot of (dare I say most?) people aren't interested in this; instead, they just want to use the banlist as an easy answer, or try to shape competitive Pokemon in their image. We all need to remember the following:
    • The banlist should not be used to "force" diversity. Let's get this out of the way: Pokemon is a poorly balanced game. The OU metagame revolves ~30 Pokemon (may be generous) because the vast majority of Pokemon are flat-out unplayable, and because people want to win at all costs. This even happens in the official VGC metagame, where only around 20-something Pokemon are common. Until the game receives a massive overhaul, this is the way things will remain. You can ban and ban and ban, but people will just move on to the next best thing. Instead of saying, "I'm sick of seeing Keldeo so much, I want it banned", you should be focusing on new strategies instead. Some people will stick to standards, some will innovate. Deal with it.
    • Pokemon will continue to power creep. Yes, the game is steadily changing, and yes, Pokemon are becoming more and more powerful. Yes, rain has become much more powerful with Drizzle Politoed. If you don't like this, play another metagame where the power level is lower. More bans will not change this. Deal with it.
    • If it can be reasonably countered, it should be allowed. I don't care how you don't feel like countering a Pokemon, or how "it has counters, but..." You are a competitive player: you should take any challenge that comes your way. Actually think of ways to reasonably handle Keldeo instead of crying for it to be banned. God forbid you have to change up your team! Deal with it.
    • "This isn't fun" is a HORRIBLE reason to ban something. I assume you are ultimately playing this game for fun, or you would find some other way to spend your free time. I don't care about how you don't like to face rain/Landorus/Genesect/whatever: when it comes to bans, it's either overpowered or it's not. The OU metagame does not cater to your whim; if you don't like it, play another metagame.
    • "Skill" is relative. The argument of banning something based on "tactics" is a terrible idea. Who cares if Stealth Rock is "mindless"? It's just another part of the metagame. Competitive play is about testing one's skill, but remember, this is just Pokemon. You shouldn't care about how easy or hard it is to use something.
    Smogon claims to be a competitive site, but it tries to bend over backwards in order to cater to people who just whine and whine and whine about how Keldeo doesn't fit with their vision of the game and should be banned. Until Smogon gets a spine and stops trying to cater to the whiners' every demand, Suspect Testing will continue to be a failure. People, grow the fuck up and actually deal with your problems instead of wasting bandwidth whining about it over and over. The banlist should solely be used to get rid of overpowered Pokemon, and nothing else.

    2. Who Should Decide on the Issues?
    The basic process of nominating and deciding on a Pokemon's tier placement is broken up into three groups:
    • The People: Everyone who battles on the Smogon server decide if a Pokemon is OU or not based on its usage (popularity). From what I've observed, Pokemon are brought to a Council/Senate's attention after enough complaining that X Pokemon is suspect (once again, popular opinion).
    • The Council/Senate: This committee (which sees to have been arbitrarily elected) decides on the initial banlist for OU and nominate certain Pokemon as suspect.
    • The Voters: People who do well on the normal and Suspect ladders ultimately decide on a Pokemon's fate.

    The general consensus seems to be "Let only the knowledgable players vote, I don't want the common people ruining Pokemon!" due to herd mentality, lack of knowledge, etc. However, the OU list is founded on public opinion. While the Council makes the basic banlist, the people ultimately get to decide if a Pokemon remains OU, either by usage or complaining about it. How the fuck are you going to base a tier list on public perception, hold threads for people to discuss why X Pokemon is/isn't broken, then say "lol, no voting for you"? Similarly, if you people truly believe that only a handful of elite players should vote, why don't they get to nominate the Suspects instead?

    You actually need to decide on the voting process. If popular opinion matters, make voting more democratic. If you just want the knowledgable players to vote, don't base the tiers on popularity and stop nominating Pokemon based on the public's opinion. Stop being hypocrites.

    Finally, the Council is a fucking joke. Were they democratically elected? Are they the best battlers on the site? Why should I care about their opinion? Fix the Council please.

    3. When Should Suspect Testing Occur?
    The current "policy" sees to be "Just wait for people to bitch enough, then declare something Suspect!" There's no rhyme or reason as to when Suspect Testing will occur, which is extremely unprofessional for the so-called premiere Singles Battling site. Update it on a fixed basis like the tiers.


    Fix these basic problems (stop catering to whiners, find a consistent way of nominating and voting on suspects, and decide on a schedule) or Suspect Testing will continue to be a crock of shit.
    Erico9001, Magcargo and Conflict like this.
  20. Erico9001

    Erico9001

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    OP has stated there are two different, apposing philosophies on Pokemon metagame play. Both strive toward a balance between strategy and tactics, but differ in opinion on where that balance is.

    We (as in all of us) do not prefer neither the tactical nor the strategical side of pokemon. To avoid conflict, the metagame needs to give equal opportunity to both the strategical and the tactical players, and not show preference to either.
  21. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 0 superbowl wins since SPYGATE

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    I'm going to point out again that we have already historically shown where our preferences are in the way we have banned in previous generations, and we do not value both equally as much as people like to think they do. Further, in the edge case situations being described in the OP, the two philosophies are mutually exclusive. You simply cannot "give equal opportunity" no matter how arbitrarily (and unfoundedly) 'good' it sounds as a concept.
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  22. Erico9001

    Erico9001

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    My post above is in response to me misinterpreting the op. I thought he was trying to say smogon should try to eliminate tactics from OU.
    Perhaps the fifth generation players' opinions differ from the fourth generations players'? Maybe we should model our idea of the popular opinion off of the current generation and not the past. There are a shit load of new players who have joined since then. We could hold a detailed poll that aims to encourage what a player really does rather than "this sounds better."
    -I was going to go this way, but then I realized something

    You claim that having equal opportunity for both play styles is absurd because they are mutually exclusive. Now thinking of it, they are not mutually exclusive, because they are not opposites.

    Strategy and short term tactics are not opposites. You can't be short-term tactical without a strategic team. Go ahead and try to win with a little cup team in ou. If you're really good you'll inticipate every single move the opponent will use, but your team won't be strategical enough to take advantage of this. Everyone uses tactics and strategy. Tactics is increased with skill, from practice or/and intelligence. People who have better tactics win more often, as long as they make sure to have an effective team. People who choose to use an ineffective team, people like myself, do so because they find fun in utilizing their tactics, and understand (or should understand) that doing so will not improve their win/loss ratio.
    This has very little to do with banning, however.

    'Broken' mostly comes down to if a pokemon can be used too effectively with little tactic, and relatively too effectively with lots of tactic. In other words, banning comes down to whether or not a pokemon is too strategically powerful. These pokemon tend to be higher on the viability ranking thread.

    The purpose of this thread is to get avoid the conflict involved with the banning process. The solution to the conflict is not to define broken. Whatever definition we place on the word broken will end up being broad, because their are a lot of factors that will make a pokemon too powerful, and conflict will still arise from trying to apply the definition to each individual case. The actual solution is to lower the bull shit 2000 glicko2 needed to vote to a point where noobs/stupid still can't vote, but the majority of genuine players can be happy. The petty, annoying arguments would stop. I like how Magicxgame puts this:
  23. TheValkyries

    TheValkyries proudly reppin' 0 superbowl wins since SPYGATE

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    First off, the 5th Generation Players are very much in line with 4th generation in terms of philosophies, and if they aren't it's only because the 5th generation is more extreme. If you REALLY wanted to pull a "don't focus on the past" you'd have to go farther back to gen II to find philosophies that are more lenient.

    Second, I didn't claim strategy and tactically focused philosophies are necessarily mutually exclusive, rather that in the situations described in the OP (which were admittedly unclear) they are. A pokemon like Keldeo now or Salamence in 4th gen were examples of when you can't have your cake and eat it too. Tactically too strong, but strategically totally fine. You can't say "equal opportunity" in this situation because by not acting you're forsaking tactical value, and if you ban you choose tactical value over strategic value. There is no scenario involving these two Pokemon that leaves you giving "equal opportunity" to strategic and tactical play.

    Furthermore, both the sentiment of you and magicxgame of "stop letting stupid people vote and the petty arguments will stop" is entirely highly subjective. They are no stupider than you or I, they just differ in opinion in terms of Design Philosophy. You considering them to be stupid is a symptom of the problem of a loose/broad definition of broken. Before we would argue with each other on completely different terms and levels with no one understanding where the opposing point of view is coming from. It would always end with people being fed up and just saying "They don't get it, they're too stupid." The very point of this whole thing is to foster a stronger understanding of what can be broken, and how they can be broken, so that in the future we don't have people going in endless circular discussions. We would not eliminate the "stupid" opinions by changing the reqs level. We would eliminate these poor arguments by acknowledging the different ways a Pokemon can be viewed as broken.
  24. Erico9001

    Erico9001

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    I wasn't competitive in previous generations so I don't want to make claims about them. I REALLY didn't want to go that route, actually =]. That part which I struck-through can almost be thought of like a question.

    You misunderstand what I say. Had I believed that, it certainly would be subjective, and offensive too.

    I'm saying that much conflict rises from mistrust from smogon of their community. I do not believe people who get 2000 glicko2 are stupid and I did not say that. Smogon needs to lower the requirements, because claiming that the majority of people should not be able to vote because they aren't knowledgeable seems subjective itself and upsets people. People can't vote, so they try to influence other peoples' votes by any means necessary. So, arguing every small detail, stating points that are irrelevant, the action of not agreeing, going in circles, and basically being annoying.

    Even though the idea of this thread may not completely work, it isn't a bad idea.

    I think it's a good idea we start out listing key reasons pokemon are claimed to be broken. We can develop this list as a group and then group related characteristics together. When the list is complete we could turn the list into sentence and paragraph.
  25. Kingler12345

    Kingler12345 COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE STARTS WITH C
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    Uhh, I'm not going to force myself into this discussion, but the reason to get reqs is to COMPARE the metagame without the suspect and the one with it. Also you can see how succesfully the suspect works. If there were no ladder reqs, someone could get swept by a keldeo one day and decide for ban due to "popular vote". Most of the people who are unprepared for rain and run teams not exactly good in the metagame(no water resists, etc) WILL get swept by keldeo and WILL vote for ban. Although this suspecttest was easy, the deviation still forced people to play matches and understand its effects on the metagame. Lowering the requirements will lower the quality of players voting and hence even if it probably shouldn't have been banned, and it would have been so with the 2000 glicko2 rating, lower skilled players will decide to vote purely on whether it destroys their team or they use it to destroy other (unprepared) teams.
    Just dropped by to give my 2 cents.
    EDIT- And I'm not sure the majority of people care about voting if they can't, smogon should be able to do whatever it wants to imo. Take it or leave it.

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