After playing 2v2 Doubles for the entirety of gen 7, analysing Z moves, I’ve come to the conclusion that they need to be banned ASAP. I will address frequently asked questions / frequently made arguments against a Z ban for 1v1. I know they’re different metagames, but the questions / arguments could still be applied, and I’m addressing them pre-emptively for 2v2 Doubles.
The main reason: Z was balanced by its creator Game Freak by being limited to being used once per battle, with a battle being 6v6. Which means that Z is usable on 1/6 of your team and usable once per battle. In 2v2 Doubles it’s usable on ½ of your team, which corresponds to z being usable on 3/6 of your team in a 6v6 battle and usable 3 times per battle. That’s 3 times the impact on the battle. Getting hit by a Z attack in 2v2 Doubles is the same as getting hit by a Z attack 3 times in 6v6. This enough is reason for a ban, however simple you might think the reason is.
Everything said here forth is additional analysis and justification for anyone who ignores that it’s banworthy on that sole merit.
A Z-move KO in 6v6 is not much of a big deal, you lost 1 poke, that’s 1/6ths out of your team. In 2v2 you lost half your team, turning it into a 1v1, which could quite possibly be the worse match-up for you, decided by the z-move user, simply due to its sheer power. Now of course OHKO’s can happen without Z-moves, but when they happen it’s because of a really strong move (covered below), type advantages, and difference in stats. And in the case where the Z-attack didn’t KO, it still does significantly more damage than it ever would have done otherwise, which is devastating (aka most likely game ruining) for the surviving poke.
Where such power was once due to a selection of pokes with big offensive stats, pokes with access to devastating moves, and pokes with type advantages, it is now available to pretty much any poke without utterly horrible offensive stats (which is the majority of viable pokes, if not the majority of all pokes). Where such pokes were once utilized for their other traits, traits for strats such as setup, support, walling, or whatever else, they can now have a strong attack (as in strength comparable to pokes that specialized in attacking) in addition to their role/use. That alone makes for unfair gameplay as such pokes now in addition to their specialization also get to nuke. This scales down the entire system of pokemon archetypes. An due to the sheer power of Z attacks, even the system of type effectiveness is scaled down to almost nothing. Who needs type effectiveness when you can just use Z to nuke everything not immune? Again keep in mind that even if the same applies to 6v6, the impact is tripled here. Now if Z-moves can provide such power to pokes that didn’t specialize in attacking, what do they provide to pokes that do? They make them unmanageable to deal with through any means other than outspeeding them and KO’ing them before they do the same to you.
“But Rumplestiltskin, why not just ban the pokes that you say become unmanageable due to Z-moves?”
Because it would mean losing a majority (if not all) of all offensive pokes at the very least, and the meta would still be unbalanced due to the massive power boost to everything (the unfair gameplay mentioned above).
In a meta where surviving is a massive struggle due to focus fire, and where power dominates, the addition of Z-moves, taking said power to a whole other level unbalances the meta too much and takes it even more in the direction of outspeed-and-KO ASAP type of battles. It utterly dumbs down the meta when not even type effectiveness or poke archetypes matter much any more.
“Rumplestiltskin, what makes Z attacks any different from other high BP attacks?”
Other strong moves are limited by their distribution, negative side effects, accuracy, and conditions. Which also means that you can play accordingly. And the distribution limit is significant because it incorporates all of the limits that the poke the move is limited to has, and if a poke with access to such a strong move doesn’t have enough limits, you usually see it banned in Smogon tiers/metas.
Let’s go over distribution first (excluding banned pokes, smeargle, NFE’s unless relevant, and moves with not so limited distribution (those will be covered in the other list)), and I hope I don’t have to go over the weaknesses and limits of each poke to get this point across.
- Victini, Rayquaza (banned)
- Prismatic Laser
- Blast Burn, Hydro Cannon, Frenzy Plant
- starter pokes, Arceus (no Frenzy Plant, banned)
- Typhlosion, Entei, Camerupt, Torkoal, Heatran, Groudon (banned)
- Water Spout
- Wailord, Jellicent, Blastoise, Octillery, Kyogre (banned)
- Rock Wrecker
- Rhyperior, Crustle
- Head Smash
- Aegislash, Aggron, Archeops, Basculin, Corsola, Cranidos, Donphan, Emboar, Hydreigon, Nidoking, Nihilego, Rampardos, Relicanth, Scrafty, Sudowoodo, Turtonator, Tyrantrum
- Roar of Time
- Darkrai, Arceus (banned), Dialga (banned)
- Shell Trap
- Doom Desire
- Jirachi (banned)
- Psycho Boost
- Deoxys and its formes, Lugia (banned)
- Freeze Shock
- Kyurem Black
- Ice Burn
- Kyurem White
- Chatot, Exploud, Flygon, Noivern, Pikipek, Swellow, Toucannon
- High Jump Kick
- Blaziken, Hawlucha, Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee, Hitmontop, Lopunny, Lucario, Medicham, Mienshao, Pheromosa, Scrafty, Tsareena
- Explosion / Selfdestruct, 250 / 200 BP
- The user faints.
- V-Create, 180 BP
- 95% accuracy, Lowers the user's Defense, Sp. Def, Speed by 1.
- Prismatic Laser, 160 BP
- User cannot move next turn.
- Hyper Beam / Giga Impact / Rock Wrecker / Blast Burn / Hydro Cannon / Frenzy Plant / Roaor of Time, 150 BP
- 90% accuracy, user cannot move next turn.
- Focus Punch, 150 BP
- Fails if the user takes damage before it hits.
- Eruption / Water Spout, 150 BP
- Less power as user's HP decreases.
- Head Smash, 150 BP
- 80% accuracy, has 1/2 recoil.
- Shell Trap, 150 BP
- User must take physical damage before moving.
- Sky Attack, 140 BP
- 90% accuracy, charges, then hits turn 2.
- Doom Desire, 140 BP
- Hits two turns after being used.
- Psycho Boost, 140 BP
- 90% accuracy, lowers the user's Sp. Atk by 2.
- Last Resort, 140 BP
- Fails unless each known move has been used.
- Psycho Boost, 140 BP
- 90% accuracy, charges, then hits turn 2.
- Skull Bash, 130 BP
- Charges, then hits turn 2.
- High Jump Kick, 130 BP
- 90% accuracy, user is hurt by 50% of its max HP if it misses.
- Draco Meteor / Leaf Storm / Overheat / Fleur Cannon, 130 BP
- Lowers the user's Sp. Atk by 2.
As you can see all the moves listed (bar Boomburst) have accuracy deficiencies / negative side effects / conditions, with most of them also having limited to extremely limited distribution. This applies to all attacks down to 110 BP in one or multiple ways. I don’t know why I felt I had to make this list, it’s just ridiculous that someone actually thought Z attacks and regular high BP attacks are the same.
“But Rumplestiltskin, what about choice band and choice specs, don’t they boost moves base power to Z levels and even slightly above? How can you want Z banned, but not choice items?”
Except that there is a drawback to using choice, which is that you're choice locked, which can very much be exploited/punished in 2v2 Doubles. And choice can be used on all 6 pokemon in 6v6, unlike Z. Z's drawback, which is that you can only use it once per battle is extremely diminished in 2v2 Doubles, that's a clear difference. Being choice locked, if you think about it thoroughly, means that any poke that didn’t use choice band/specs is uniquely able to profit from Z due to the nature of sets that prefer not to use or don’t work with band/specs. Pokes such as the ones mentioned above, i.e. pokes that didn’t specialize in attacking, or pokes that setup. Even pokes that would previously use choice items, can now opt for setup + Z.
“But Rumplestiltskin, what about megas, they’re also only usable on 1/6 of your team?”
The difference is that this isn’t Mix and Mega, where you could slap on a mega stone on any poke. Megas are viewed as individual pokes, and if a certain mega poke proves to be broken, it can get banned. Megas should be subject to more scrutiny here though as there's way less opportunity cost here than in a 6v6.
“But Rumplestiltskin, Smogon’s guidelines is to only ban the absolute necessary. What if not all Z-crystals are banworthy? Are you saying that Buginium-Z for instance is broken? LOL”
If one Z-crystal is broken then they all are, this isn't monotype where you ban things based on type. If a Z-crystal is broken, it isn't because of its type, but because of the other reasons mentioned. Just because some of the most used pokes resist the Bug type doesn't mean that Buginium-Z does what it does any differently than the other Z crystals. It just means that it will do less damage against the pokes that resist the Bug type, which shouldn't hold any relevance to balancing unless you're saying “screw the pokes that don't resist Bug”. You could also mean that no currently strong popular poke has X-type to use X-type Z-crystal with, which again shouldn't hold relevance because I'm arguing that Z is broken for what it is and does nonetheless, regardless of how popular a certain type Z-crystal is.
“But Rumplestiltskin, just use Substitute or Protect.”
That’s overcentralizing. Protect is one of the best moves to have in Doubles, but being forced to bring Substitute or Protect just for Z, even in cases where you otherwise wouldn’t have is not an indicator of a healthy metagame. And unless you’re a psychic in real life, you don’t know the exact turn your opponent will use their Z-attack, meaning Substitute and Protect are not very reliable answers.
And speaking of Protect, due to Z-attacks’ ability to bypass Protect, that damage, even while cut to 25%, is still in some cases enough to do a number (talking 75% HP in some cases) on pokes at a type and/or stat disadvantage, while also doing a decent chunk when hitting neutrally.
Protect provides some interesting gameplay to the meta and allows for some cool outplays. Z-attacks bypassing Protect reduces Protects usefulness in the meta, which allows more of just blindly and mindlessly attacking, with (unless mega stones) items such as Z-crystals and choice items.
“But Rumplestiltskin, Z moves make more pokes viable, how can you not want that? There’s no way that something that makes more pokes viable should be banned.”
First of all, while some pokes become more viable, others take a hit. Second of all, become viable at what cost? You don’t allow something broken just because it makes more pokes viable. In fact, I’d wager it’s a given that broken moves would make more pokes viable. If Perish Song was allowed on more pokes, we would get more viable pokes then too. And when it got banned in 1v1 for example Lapras and Murkrow fell real hard in viability. Just because something makes more pokes viable doesn’t mean it’s not broken, and you don’t keep broken stuff in a metagame just because they make more pokes viable.
Let's ban this swiftly, and use this month to resolve other issues such as stat boosting terrain inducing abilities and weather inducing abilities, the latter of which was overcentralizing last gen in 2v2 Doubles.
Now on to actual arguments...
Your comparison of 2v2 to 6v6 (saying it's the same as having z moves on 3/6 mons is silly (sorry to overuse the word). 2v2 is not 1/3 of doubles ou and it definitely isnt 1/6 of ou. At the teambuilding level you have only two mon cores to consider (two mons on the field at a time I mean). If you have a Z move on more than one mon it is likely that there will come a time when you will have two z users on the field unless you have one of those teams with two completely seperate cores (basically weather or terrain cores). This is obviously not ideal for the z user. In 2v2 there is no switching, there are no hazards (well you can if you want), it's doubles unlike ou, sweeping is very different. Some of these things make z moves better yah (I wouldn't dignify this with a response besides lol in an ou-esque thread) but the fact remains that this is a different environment and if you want z moves banned you really need to bring up some specific threats imo. Not just some actually, but a lot, and show why it's z moves that breaks them.
A second point is that Z moves are not OHKO moves. You seem to be treating them like they are. Using a Z move does not guarantee you killing the targeted mon, and doing 75% through protect is an exception, nor the rule. I've found it more common to do less than 50, but it depends so much on the mons that any estimation is basically meaningless. This point is important. You seem to think whoever gets off a z move takes down a mon regardless of typing or attack stats, which is just silly.
You're starting from the assumption that z moves are broken. Remember the burden of proof rests on those trying to change the status quo according to ou policy. Prove to us it's broken rather than stating it's broken and then trying to get use to prove you wrong.
Tl;dr don't strawman, 2v2=/=a fraction of other metas, z moves don't OHKO, provide actual meta relevant evidence.
Sry for spelling errors phone is weird