Announcement Astrolotl Nerf 2: If Not Now, When?

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quziel

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Given its performance in the recent CAP Snake Draft (named after the drafting style not snake rattler), the CAP metagame council (-Voltage-, Jordy, Mx, snake_rattler, and I) has decided it's time to take action on Astrolotl.

Astrolotl has shown itself to be a remarkably resilient lizard/amphibian/alien/axolotl thanks to the longevity granted by its ability Regenerator, and its ability to force consistent progress throughout a game with its endless utility movepool featuring standouts such as Spikes, Wish, Encore, Thunderwave, and importantly Knock Off, as well as one of the best attacking moves in the game, Fire Lash. While it does have solid individual checks such as Hippowdon, Tyranitar, Hydreigon, Mandibuzz, and Colossoil, one of the defining features of Astrolotl is that it has no reason to stay in a losing matchup thanks to Regenerator. Spikes and Regenerator combined means that it is exceptional at outlasting almost all of its checks, and its pool of utility options mean that it is additionally fairly difficult to set up against.

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Here are some choice replays showing its efficacy of consistently making progress regardless of the game while outlasting most of its checks:

https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8cap-1251415911

Here Astrolotl is able to repeatedly grab momentum using Encore, notably preventing Lasen from Teleporting out after Encoring Future Sight, and uses Spikes to consistently force Hydreigon in to defog, controlling the game even further.

https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8cap-1255196209

Here Astrolotl again uses Encore to completely prevent the opposing Landorus-Therian from gaining any momentum against it, Encoring it into Substitute, and despite being forced to near death, Regenerator allows it to come back to full and check the opposing Spectrier. The Spikes it set vs the Landorus-Therian were also instrumental in denying Voltage free setup and closed out the game.

https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8cap-1263477212

Showing that it matches up well vs more than just balance, Astrolotl is able to force out Magearna using the threat of Encore, uses Fire Lash and Encore to beat Zarude, Kommo-o, and Cawmodore, and Regenerator to stay healthy enough to do so the entire match.

https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen8cap-1263507631

This match features Astrolotl on both sides, and both of them truly dictate the pace of the game. Both of them show how easy it is to set Spikes during a match, getting up to full layers multiple times while still staying healthy. Sunmyser's Astrolotl is able to consistently stay at high HP despite losing its Heavy Duty Boots, getting Toxiced and having to switch in repeatedly thanks to the combination of Wish and Regenerator, and thanks to Spikes, Fire Lash, and Knock Off it is able to force PDT to constantly switch out, wearing down their team until victory.

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Some questions to start the discussion:

1) Do you think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame reaches a bar such that a nerf is needed?
2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?


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Please take in mind that we're aiming to finish this nerfing process in 7 days, so post accordingly.

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Thank god this thread was locked for 24 hours.
The prep time was very appreciated.
Thank you Sun for the discussion and edits. And everyone on PS/Discord for your advice and input.
Attached is my write up.

Heads UP: Take what I say with a grain of salt. I know Im a shit player and my knowledge of the format is far from perfect.

Edit: Also doing a direct copy and paste below. The pdf is a bit more neat and organized but I know reading a whole pdf is annoying.


Even though I was more than satisfied with the last round of Astro nerfs – due to being deserved without being too extreme - it appears we are back the discussion of nerfing Astro once again.
I will start off by answering the questions laid in the OP:

1) Do you think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame reaches a bar such that a nerf is needed?
A nerf (or ban) is needed when a Pokémon’s presence is overcentralizing the metagame. To clarify, my term for overcentralizing is when either the Pokémon has an extremely high usage rate, or if it restricts team building by forcing players to run multiple specific Pokémon just to check the overcentralizing Pokémon. Over-centralization is unhealthy for any format because it limits team building options, and leads to a low variance within the metagame. An example of a mon that is overcentralizing by usage stats is Gen 7 Ubers Primal Groudon. According to the Smogon Usage Stats rate, in October, 2019, the usage rate that a player with ladder ranking => 1760 used P.Don was 71.614%. Another example of an overcentralizing mon is Spectier in OU. According to the January 2021 usage stats, Spect was the 17th most popular Pokémon for players with ELO => 1825 with a usage rate of 12.189%. Despite this low usage rate among top players, it is currently being suspect tested in OU. This is due to Spectier restricting team building by forcing people to run at least 1 of its checks/counters are else they lose to it. Some Pokémon that are not considered OU are used just to counter Spect (Ex: Obstagoon, Zarude, or even Exploud). As stated in the OP, the CAP metagame council decided to open discussion of potentially nerfing Astrolotl “given its performance in the recent CAP Snake Draft” (quziel).

Based on this, I decided to examine the usage stats presented in the thread “CAP Snake Draft 1: Replays and Usage Stats” so see if Astrolotl is an overcentralizing Pokémon based on its usage stats. According to SHSP’s post in the aforementioned thread, below are the weekly and cumulative usage stats of Astro. Note that these weekly usage stats are independent of each other. So, week 1 stats don’t influence week 6 stats.
Week 1: Used 0 times (Note: Phero and Urshi were stilllegal)
Week 2: 6th most popular. Used 7 times with a 23.33% usagerate
Week 3: 3rd most popular. Used 10 times with a 29.41% usagerate
Week 4: Tied with multiple mons for 7thmost popular. Used 8 times with a 22.22% usage rate (note: Phero was banned).
Week 5: 2nd most popular mon. Used 14 times with a 41.18% usagerate.
Cumulative (usage stats for entire tournament): 3rdmost used. Used 41 times with a 25.31% usage rate.

Astro caught on really fast after Week 1. The fact that it started off having no usage and ended up 3rd most used overall is worth noting. But the overall usage shows that while Astro is highly popular and is a top tier in the format, it is not overcentralizing the format. 25.31% is not a super high usage rate by the standards of CAP tournaments. According to LucarioOfLegends, the weekly usage stats of the most used tournament in CAPPL ranged from 46.88% - 64%. Astro’s highly weekly usage stat was 41.18%. Based on the usage rates of Snake Draft and CAPPL, it appears that the CAP format has been quite decentralized and balanced since CAPPL. Overall, Astro does qualify as an overcentralizing Pokémon based on usage statistics.

The next component of what I define to be an overcentralizing Pokémon is how the Pokémon can inherently restrict team building. Effectively, does Astrololt cause a certain team a team style to be super dominant, do people need to run multiple checks or counters just to beat it, etc. After discussing with SunMYSER, Astrolotl seems to shine best on Balance, Bulky Offense, and some HO teams which is why these teams have proliferated. But not to the point of overcentralizing the metagame. Nor have I seen teams go out of their way to counter Astrolotl. Every team tends to carry at least 1 check or counter, but not to the extent that overcentralizing mons like Spectier does to teambuilding. Therefore, Astrololt does not qualify as an overcentralizing Pokemon.

Based on my breakdown of the 2 aspects that define a Pokémon as overcentralizing, Astrolotl does not qualify either condition. Its usage rate is not that high and it does not appear to overly restrict team building. Therefore, I do not think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame is not overbearing enough that it warrants any nerfs.

2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?
There are 2 aspects of Astrolotl that the community considers to be out of line. According to the OP, Astrolotl’s longevity due to regenerator allows it to dance around and outlive its checks, and its large utility move pool makes it difficult to set up against.

But another aspect of Astrolotl that might be considered to be “out of line” is the incredible amount of role compression it has with a set of Fire Lash/Knock Off/Spikes/Encore. This set gives you Item control, defense control, hazard control, 2 excellent stall breaking tools in Fire Lash and Encore, and easy ways to generate momentum through Encore and Spikes. Astro is an amazing team player and easy to fit onto many different types of teams. But Astro is not a jack of all trades who can do a lot of things, but isn’t the best at any 1 role it does. Instead, all of the roles it does, it is considered one of the best at.

Nerf Proposals:
While I personally don’t think Astro should be nerfed due to not finding it over centralizing, I am well aware that I am in the minority. Even if Astro does not get nerfed now, this will get discussed in the future, and nerfs will inevitably happen. As the OP says “If Not Now, When?”So in case the community wants to nerf Astrolotl, I have 2 unique proposals:

1) Remove Key Support Moves (specifically Spikes and Encore): Astro’s swiss army knife of a move pool allows it to be very splash able and generate momentum very easily. But I don’t want Astro to lose Fire Lash or Knock Off. Astro’s concept was offensive team support so removing attacking moves that simultaneously support its teammates goes against its concept. Based on the replays posted in the OP, I see Encore and Spikes as the main culprits. Astro’s ability to lay multiple layers of spikes throughout a game lets it pressure and outlast its checks, while Encore can generate big momentum and makes it difficult to use Astro as set-up bait. So, removing Encore and Spikes seems like a simple nerf that should dramatically hurt Astro without straying away from its concept. It’s not able to compress as many roles as it currently can while still being a great team player due to still having plenty of options to fill in the gaps in its move pool.

2) Replace Regenerator with Rough Skin and add Recover to Astro’s movepool: Astro’s longevity solely comes from its ability, Regenerator. If it were to lose Regenerator, Astro would be unable to pivot in and out throughout the game and outlast its checks. However, just getting rid of Regenerator and replacing it with a potentially unviable ability would be excessive and cripple Astro which is not desirable. Astro should still have some degree of longevity in order to support its team throughout a game. Going back to its concept of “Offensive Team Support”, Astro feels like a full support mon rather than a support mon that also has an offensive presence. Therefore, to both support its teammates and help Astrolotl increase its offensive pressure throughout the game, I propose it should gain the ability Rough Skin, and add Recover to its move pool. Recover still means Astro has longevity, but unlike Regenerator, Astro needs to spend turns to manually recover, and has a finite amount of turns it can be used. Furthermore, with Recover taking up a move slot, Astro cannot compress as many roles. This is def more radical but hopefully should be a meaningful nerf without completely neutering Astrolotl.

Sources Used:
https://www.smogon.com/stats/2019-10/gen7ubers-1760.txt
https://www.smogon.com/stats/2021-01/gen8ou-1825.txt
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threa...alization-diversity-and-related-topics.41364/
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/cappl-vi-replays-usage-stats-thread.3668203/
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/cap-snake-draft-i-replays-and-usage-stats.3674663/
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/astrolotl-nerf-2-if-not-now-when.3677657/
 

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First time posting in this type of threads so if I messed up something pls let me know
also sorry for my English

1) Do you think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame reaches a bar such that a nerf is needed?

I think astrolotl's presence is really dominant due being one if not the best support with the amount of utility with encore, knock off, wish, thunder wave, etc. which is really difficult to deal thanks of the typing because most of the time weakness of fire typing is ground or rock which cap only has lando, colo, stratagem, nidoking, etc where astrolotl can check with the speed or with a switch and even if astrolotl get chiped away you can heal with regenerator. There isn't a support that can deal the amount of pressure that astrolotl do it works as a spike setters and if you switch into your spinner or defoger like zapdos or tomohawk you are going to get knocked off which reduce a lot of your defog because without your hdb you can't defog as easy and if you switch into your spinner like tomohawk you are going to get the drop of fire lash which it isn't as bad compared to knock off but that combination for me is unhealthy because you can't manage to take the hazard control. and for your last move astrolotl can have a lot of options that can support your teams like encore or thunder wave. and let's not forget the speed of astrolotl outspeeding a lot of some of pokemon that can deal with astrolotl like latios or colossoil. if rocks are up and you decide to switch into latios because can ohko with draco meteor but a good astrolotl will do fire leash and then kill latios because a knock from astrolotl does 0 Atk Astrolotl Knock Off (97.5 BP) vs. -1 0 HP / 0 Def Latios: 270-318 (89.7 - 105.6%. that is not healthy imo

2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?

I think the big issue with Astrolotl is the access of knock-off and a good speed with the capacities of out outspeed a lot of possible counters like latios and latias for example. Like I said knock is strong for utility it keeps the pressure only because of that and you can't switch safely into astrolotl because you lose your item which are crucial for hazard control and astrolotl is a spike setter.

The speed of astrolotl is a point I feel like it should be nerfed to have much control and have another checks and counters although I'm not sure of how much speed it should be nerfed.
 

Rabia

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Astrolotl is very obviously in need of a nerf. I don't really care about usage rate not being ridiculously high; it still was top three and had nearly a 60% win rate, which more than shows how dominant it has been. Citing stats like these isn't too helpful, though, in my eyes; the more important part is how Astrolotl functions in practice.

Astrolotl consistently exerts more pressure than any other Pokemon the CAP metagame has. Its combination of Knock Off, Spikes, and Fire Lash essentially puts its foe in a lose-lose situation every turn. If you stay in, you get repeatedly hit by Fire Lash until you can't withstand them anymore; if you switch out, you either give up a layer of Spikes or continue to let Astrolotl cripple your entire team with Knock Off. It's "damned if you do, damned if you don't." Throw Encore into this, and it ends up being very difficult to shift momentum back into your favor. Astrolotl has unprecedented levels of control over the pace of games and dictates flow with ease.

Furthermore, Astrolotl's just stupidly hard to wear down. Regenerator + Wish gives it incredible staying power, and despite Astrolotl's bulk not being too great at first glance, it's more than enough to beat wallbreakers like Krilowatt one-on-one. This isn't really an indictment against Astrolotl, but it goes to show the insane level of influence Astrolotl has throughout games. You can freely cripple your answers throughout the game and are never really at risk of losing much of anything.

Astrolotl isn't restricting like an overpowered wallbreaker is; instead, Astrolotl is just too good at what it does. I believe the bar for nerfing is very much met.

When looking at how best to nerf Astrolotl, my eyes are on the removal of Knock Off and Wish. Some people will argue that Encore is the better fourth moveslot option, but I couldn't disagree any more; I think Wish enables much of Astrolotl's ability to force lose-lose situations because unless you can immediately drop it, you're going to be stuck in this awful cycle of pivoting around trying to avoid Knock Off bonking a key member of your team. Additionally, Knock Off makes otherwise decent answers in Rocky Helmet Slowbro, Tomohawk, and Toxapex no longer reliable. Once they lose their item, you can easily beat them with the Defense drops caused by Fire Lash and the recovery from Wish keeping you healthy.
 

MrDollSteak

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What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?

As last time I think there are a few aspects that make Astrolotl overbearing, not least its wide movepool that allows it to continuously force progress. As most of the chosen replays demonstrate Encore or even just the threat of Encore make Astrolotl very difficult to play around and subsequently allow it to set up multiple layers of Spikes. While Knock Off is another piece of the puzzle and a particularly effective option in punishing its switchins, I personally believe that the biggest issue for Astrolotl is in the longevity of its impact on the game as caused by moves such as Spikes that force Defoggers such as Zapdos and Moltres to come in and lose their item, or for their offensive answers to take at least 12.5% of their health repeatedly. I believe that by removing both Spikes and Encore, Knock Off will be less potent in what it can achieve singlehandedly for Astrolotl. By the same token I think removing Knock Off will make Spikes more manageable by guaranteeing a few more switchins to Astrolotl while still preserving its hazard playstyle, however, I believe that it is primarily the ability to use free turns on Spikes that is Astrolotl's biggest problem. Without Spikes Astrolotl will be forced to run Status or Wish somewhat exclusively, which overall I think will make it easier to play around and encourage Astrolotl to continue utilising its attacking options.
 
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My forum presences is none existent and for good reason. I'd like to see that as a testament of how well the cap process has been going since switching to a metagame driven focus and not my general laziness to post but I digress. When I returned from my hiatus to play with caps newest shiny toy, I was greeted abruptly and rudely by a team building menace, Astrolotl.

To get right to the point and try to keep this short and sweet. I've always thought while we have no problem nerfing offensive cap mons into oblivion, when it comes to defensive or support mons we take way to much of a lax approach to that matter. Every single support mon we have "nerfed" hasn't dropped below B ranking in viability while the offensive ones are literally unusable. And when it comes to support mons that we the CAP Process have created Astrolotl is the cream of the crop. Now I'm not saying we should make Astrolotl unviable but it certainly shouldn't be as splashable as it is, it can literally be put on the majority of team archetypes and function extremely well. While I'm in favor of move removal (I'd say Rabia has had the best suggestion thus far, encore is merely the flavor of the month, wish and its longevity are the real movepool issue imo amongst others.) I do think stat nerfs are necessary.

While I've heard the idea of outright nerfing Astrolotls bulk whispered about, I think that would drastically change how the mon was intended to function and should be a last ditch effort at best. The one stat change I would be proposing is a nerf in speed, I think that's truly what makes Astrolotl so good. In my eyes while it doesn't do the same degree of damage, it does have the same degree of impact and a very similar speed tier to a previous cap we nerfed mega crucible. Having a virtually unkillable mon with a plethora of support moves is definitely a issue, but you know what's a bigger one imo giving it a godspeed tier that allows it threaten mons that could potentially break it with knock off and longevity. Above 349 is a speed tier regenerator mons shouldn't touch imo. Even our overlords at Gamefreak haven't had the indecency to give that much speed to a regenerator mon. Oh actually they have and its was called Tornadus-Therian a mon that hasn't consistently dropped out of A ranking in gens 6-8 and was banned in 5. Not to mention is outright banned in national dex, a tier started and operated by ex cap mods. Lastly id like to turn your attention to this.

(1) Announcement - Galarian Darmanitan, Ash-Greninja, Mega Metagross, Tornadus-T, and Urshifu-S are now banned from National Dex | Smogon Forums

Read the Tornadus-T section, remove z moves from the equation, and replace offensive pressure with passive offensive pressure and what do you have, Astrolotl. Astrolotl should be happy with a nerf imo. Nerf it now or deal with it forever ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

dex

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1) Do you think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame reaches a bar such that a nerf is needed?
I think it is common consensus that Astrolotl is the best mon in the metagame at the moment. It is extremely splashable, and can fit on most teams outside of HO and weather. However, I'll take the road less traveled here and say that Astrolotl does not need a nerf. Although Astrolotl can be hard to punish, there are absolutely ways of dealing with it in the metagame. Even with Regenerator, Astrolotl can be chipped effectively. A number of options exist in order to do so, including offensive ground types and scarfers. I am pretty borderline on this opinion, so I wouldn't mind a nerf, but I personally do not find Astrolotl to be as oppressive to play against as it is made out to be.

2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?
Should a nerf occur, we need to look into making Astrolotl more punishable when it stays in. That is to say, it is currently quite difficult to punish Astrolotl for clicking Knock Off or Spikes. I think there are a number of ways to do this, from taking away a utility move to nerfing its speed (which would have a ripple effect on its bulk). Astro is absolutely the best spiker in the tier because of its ability to set up multiple layers of spikes multiple times throughout a match given its longevity, which is a big part of the reason Astro is so oppressive. Looking into decreasing the effectiveness of this role, or even removing it altogether, is probably our best course of action when it comes to this nerf.
 
1) Do you think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame reaches a bar such that a nerf is needed?
Astrolotl most definitely needs a nerf. Regenerator spam is by far the strongest team archetype right now for a reason. Everything was already covered: it makes progress too well too quickly, and while there are ways to deal with it, it's practically impossible to punish.

2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?
Two main things
A) The combination of Spikes and Knock Off is the most obvious target here, one of these two needs to go. The reason why Astrolotl is so annoying to face is that it sets up Spikes and then removes your Defoger/Spinner's item, making it less reliable, all of this while taking no damage whatsoever. It can do that against most walls in the metagame. That's for the "it makes progress too well too quickly" part. I think knock Off is the most obvious target here, as it is less interesting and pro-concept than Spikes.
B) For the "practically impossible to punish" part, nerfing its bulk should be considered imo. Astrolotl is too good at not getting ohkoed for an "offensive support" Pokémon. It lives Earth Power from Equilibra and Nidoking after Knock Off, it lives hits from Band Syclant, from Specs Lele, Magearna and Kerfluffle, etc., so clicking Knock Off is free in situations where it has no reason to be. It's also not 2hkoed by stuff like Tomohawk Hurricane, Scarf Kartana Knock Off, Tyranitar Crunch, etc. Removing some HP is an option to make it more punishable in many situations where a Pokémon that should beat Astrolotl is forced out because Astrolotl can barely live a hit and Knock it off.

Other stuff
- Wish, Encore and T-Wave are obvious targets. Astrolotl has too many options, adding some unpredictability to a Pokémon that is already hard to deal with when you know all 4 moves. Removing Wish would make Astrolotl less of an auto-win pick in long games, which would be much appreciated.
- Removing Fire Lash is a bad idea imo, as this move makes Astrolotl more interesting to use, while not being broken given how weak the mon is. It rarely wins 1v1s against walls anyway.
- Nerfing Atk or Spe doesn't help solving the problem at all to me.

In conclusion :
Remove Knock Off and Wish. If it's not enough (which it might be I think), nerf its HP or SpDef.
 

quziel

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I am tired and will be making a small post.

The issue with Astrolotl is that it is literally perfect for the gameplan of:
1) Set up spikes (Spikes)
2) Make them get hit by spikes (Knock Off)
3) Force them to switch, thus proccing spikes (Fire Lash / Encore / Twave / etc)

This is compounded by the fact that it faces very little risk for making mispredicts thanks to a broadly neutral defensive typing and Regenerator. I believe that one element of the above must be hit in order to have a meaningful effect on Astrolotl as a whole. The easiest route to fixing this issue is probably hitting part 2 of its gameplan, making it so that it can no longer chain together setting up spikes, removing hdb, and forcing switches. If you keep the ability to switch around it with HDB it would become far less self-sufficient.

An alternative route is to simply reduce the overall power by targeting elements of 3 (the possibility of last slot Encore heavily affects counterplay), or by reducing its overall stats.

I believe that either Remove Knock Off or Remove Encore and reduce Speed.

Frankly I don't think a huge nerf is necessary, as the pokemon is only in its position because of how incredibly effective it is in its role, and a reduction in potency should be enough.
 
The problem with Astrolotl is that it can outlast every defogger, even when played recklessly it's got enough bulk that it can tank a couple hits and come back anew. Knock Off is way too strong, it's such a brain dead move and Astrolotl is the best user of the move, the only think that Astrolotl fears is getting Paralyzed by Static, all other methods of punishing Knock Off spam are completely useless (Ferro/Chomp can't switch in, Rocky Helmet gets knocked and then you heal, and Flame Body is completely useless). In addition to removing Knock Off I think a reduction in SpD would be great at making it so Astrolotl has to actually be careful around Zapdos/Tomohawk/Slowbro and can't switch into set up sweepers without a good prediction for Encore shenanigans.
 
Give it Uturn
For me, Astrolotl is far too good at making progress, as well as adapting to any situation with its incredible (and heavily oversatured) movepool. Regenerator lends it incredible longevity paired with its typing, decent bulky, and Heavy Duty Boots. It’s also very challenging to switch into, as its possession of Fire Lash/Knock/Spikes lets it always do something to the opponent that it can take advantage of, and that wild fourth move could be anything from Encore to Wish to Heal Bell to Thunder Wave to anything in between. In my opinion, it having such incredible unpredictability on top it’s beyond-excellent first three moves means that beating Astro can be a chore without several excellent answers, and even then can still falter. As a result, I believe removing Regenerator and replacing it with something else flavorful like Natural Cure or something, and then giving it Recover would actually solve quite a bit of the problem. Being able to go unpunished spamming its first three moves and switching freely with no consequence, is the major issue when paired with the added pressure from one of many utility options in the fourth slot. If this change were implemented, it would force Astro to run Recover in order to outlast its checks. This guarantees that Astro must lose a useful option such as Encore or Wish, and if it wants to run those in place of one of the main three moves, it loses a major part of its gameplan in exchange for useful utility. This makes Astro much more predictable and while still challenging to switch into, forces it to waste turns Recovering in order to be effective, which heavily reduces its ability to make progress. Natural Cure is flavorful for the same reasons as Regenerator, in my opinion, and keeps Astrolotl’s unique playstyle while making Astro less risk-free to run.
 

Zephyri

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2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?
I think Astro's main issue is that it's so easy to put on a team. Like, ridiculously easy. There aren't any significant weaknesses you need to account for, and there aren't any specific checks or counters you need to account for, since there's basically nothing that happily takes a Knock and Fire Lash and Spikes and can actually do something to it. This also translates to ingame, since Astro can basically come in free on anything and make progress since HP loss doesn't mean anything to it and it can just switch out and make it so all of your progress is lost.

Based on what i've said above, it's fair to think that I'm in support of removing one of Astro's Big Three moves, but i'm really not for that. Removing any one of these moves feels like removing Belly Drum on Cawmodore: we'd be doing an injustice to the process and we're not keeping concept integrity. It's design intent for us to make progress aggressively and use team support moves to open holes in the opposition. What isn't design intent is Astro coming in on everything and leaving scot-free. Furthermore, the "no significant weaknesses" issue seems like something that we didnt intend for and is biting us in the back right now.

With all of the above, I think reducing both the Speed stat and the SpDef stat are the right plays here. Astro's SpDef set is objectively it's best, which is a little confusing when you consider that SpDef is its weakest stat. I think that giving a definite weakness to account for in teambuilding in the SpDef stat would be something that greatly hinders its splashability and unpunishability. It's speed stat is also a liiittle ridiculous and I think making it slower to the point where mons like the Latis or maybe even Kril outspeed it and threaten it is a decent fix to the problem
 

dex

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The problem with Astrolotl is that it can outlast every defogger, even when played recklessly it's got enough bulk that it can tank a couple hits and come back anew.
I disagree with this statement. Common defoggers like Zapdos, Landorus-T, and Moltres have positive matchups into Astro. I think a better way to phrase this is that it puts an immense amount of pressure on the best spinner in the tier: Equilibra. The issue with Astro isn't that it pressures hazard removal (that's a quality I think is healthy about Astro), but that it is incredibly hard to punish for just clicking whatever button it feels like. In order to remedy this in particular, I think our best course of action, should it be determined that Astro needs a nerf, is to both lower its Speed stat and remove Encore. This allows for more free Defogs, which seems to be a concern of yours, and for there to be more mons that pressure Astro (Latios is a good example of a mon that would appreciate Astro being slower). Lowering Astro's SpD will not do much to remedy the situation, as its bulk comes more from its status as an offensive Regenerator pivot with a high HP stat, and people will still load up on SpD even if it drops, say, 5 points. Removing Knock Off is not a good option either in my opinion. While Astro is undoubtedly the best user of the move, I think it is too integral a part of its kit to remove.

Again, I don't feel like it needs a nerf, but it seems common consensus is that it does.
 
I disagree with this statement. Common defoggers like Zapdos, Landorus-T, and Moltres have positive matchups into Astro.
How does Moltres have a positive match when it can't switch in for fear of Knock Off? Also when taking about a SpD drop I'm thinking 10 to 15 points, things like changing this:

0 SpA Tomohawk Hurricane vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 139-165 (38 - 45.2%) -- guaranteed 3HKO

To:

0 SpA Tomohawk Hurricane vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 160-189 (43.8 - 51.7%) -- 9.4% chance to 2HKO (2hkoed after helmet damage)

The Knock Off removal would be to make it so that it doesn't have a move what to make progress on all of it's checks. Suddenly Slowbro and Moltres switch for free and click teleport/defog. Now you have a genuine choice, you can pick Thunder Wave and ruin Cinderace while making Moltres' job harder but doing little against Slowbro other than hax it and doing nothing to Landorus/Zapdos, use Wish to help its team against more passive treats but forfeits doing anything against them directly. Taunt to prevent Defog but risking an attack, etc...

I disagree on removing Encore, over Knock off or in conjunction to it. I think it's fine for Astro to have a move that punishes passive answers to it without making them significantly worse over the course of the match. It's also the only fast user on encore that's not bad which I think it's an niche worth preserving.
 

SHSP

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This feels like a tricky one to hit a good spot with for sure. Lotl in my eyes is very much a "greater than the sum of its parts" mon, where everything in tandem makes it successful, and I'm not quite sure what makes the biggest impact for making it as good as it is currently. I don't think that the council has to worry necessarily about the impact of the nerf, i.e. "does this do enough-" I think everything suggested so far would absolutely succeed in weakening Lotl enough- but more so about which option is the best route to go about it.

I think that Encore absolutely should go, firstly: regardless of if it's the best fourth move or not, the threat of Encore as long as that fourth move isn't revealed gives Lotl a lot of power by forcing the opponent to consider or play around it from the jump. My personal other lean is that Knock should go. That bit's been discussed half to death already, but I also want to echo the point that Knock allows for Lotl to alone make its spikes that much better by forcing a lot of knocks and getting rid of a lot of boots. I'm also intrigued by the idea of stat nerfs and losing Wish, but I've yet to really think about those too much.
 
This is definitely a tough one for me just given my nature of how I've always thought about metagames. I think there are a lot of good suggestions here and I don't personally know which one may be better or worse. I think the speed can be an issue at times given its faster than the lati twins, but if you really think about that they wouldnt be able to draco it anyway because it gets a free 33% from switching out against them. My main issue really lies with the typing if I'm being honest, but I do not wish for that to be touched. Fire Lash and Knock Off, given its typing, make it super hard to actually counter for free. Fire lash lets it bully pokemon like tomohawk lacking haze (offensive or defensive) or hippowdon or mandibuzz. Whether you'd like to hurricane it (which I dont believe 2hkos w/ no investment), earthquake it (given its ability it doesnt really have to fear earthquake and if you're not at full health it can bully your hippo which you may or may not need for the matchup and may or may not need healthy to deal with astro and its spikes later given hippos natural bulk) or go mandibuzz to wall it more effectively (which hates taking the knock off anyway but can knock in return which may or may not be a losing trade depending on matchup to begin with). Certainly someone smarter than me in this brief moment I've sat down to write can come up with a better counter, maybe swampert, although swampert cannot risk losing its lefties unless it were some sort of rest set with heal bell support (which I don't think actually exists). What worries me about targetting fire lash as well is that flare blitz might also be able to bully pokemon with knock off just given that its a 120 base power move, but that would mean running calculations, which I do not think need to be run unless that is a route people actually wish to explore.

I would at least appreciate some discussion on fire lash to see what others think, I've spoken about it with a few users but this is a vast community, and I think input on fire lash could be useful to see where people fall. If others disagree and think that other issues can make it more manageable for fatter matchups I would certainly defer to those individuals (assuming a discussion about fire lash happens, because i get the feel what may be a problem with fire lash could be a problem with spikes, but they could also exist independently of one another). [I also think a discussion of its offensive pressure in general could help better locate any problems people have]

I think losing speed and bulk could certainly be interesting, but I would like to see a speed tier discussion if that route were to be seen as beneficial and specifically with that speed tier discussion why it would ever stay in instead of switching out for free. Also maybe people think spikes is too much offensive pressure given that it has fire lash and knock off ? That could certainly be a discussion I would think. As someone who uses fatter teams I think encore is a difficult matchup given that it can heal up passively through regenerator, but i think thats more anecdotal than anything, although some may agree. I've heard wish is very difficult to play around and that could certainly be looked at as well. Maybe people would even like to look into removing regenerator, I think that would certainly allow it to keep all of its offensive support that are mandated by the concept, but I think people would heavily disagree with that removal. I do also wish to apologize for such a matchup-centric post, but given I play fatter teams that is what I can offer the best pointers on. Thanks for reading the post.
 

Lasen

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I have grown tired of the pressure that Astrolotl puts both in the teambuilder and in the games that it ends up showing up. Between Fire Lash and Knock Off, arguably two of the best supporting physical moves. It doesn't matter if the damage it does at the beginning of a trade is borderline negligible; Knock completely invalidates most Pokemon's passive recovery by removing its Leftovers/Black Sludge, makes a lot of choice locked Pokemon who'd normally feel safe incapable of fulfilling their roles and making the primary physical wall of the tier, Tomohawk, unable to consistently check what it usually would by removing its Rocky Helmet. Fire Lash, on the other hand, guarantees that no defensive Pokemon can stay in to beat you in the long run, regardless of whether you're running Wish to remain healthy or not. These two moves alone have lead people running things that perform role compression well; things like Sticky Hold Gastrodon can Recover Off any damage that Astro throws their way and threaten back with a Ground-Type move or even a Toxic, while Mandibuzz can run Big Pecks as its ability to dodge the Defense drops from Fire Lash while resisting Knock Off and being capable of removing Astrolotl's Spikes.
But of course, I have only touched upon the two damaging moves that Astrolotl runs. What are its 2 other moves? Well, Spikes is considered a must by most people and the values of a hazard setter that removes boots from the opposing side but also doesn't allow the best spinner in the tier (Equilibra) a single opening are pretty obvious. But what about other defoggers and/or physical walls?
Fourth move on Astrolotl can never be assessed with 100% in the same way that USM Equilibra's ability couldn't; people sometimes just run a move you weren't accounting for and you end up mismanaging your team's core so that it will always pester you. Even if you do manage to correctly guess from as early as team preview, you still have to play with the fear of being wrong.
Encore, to me, is at the top of the list of moves that we should remove so that Astrolotl doesn't lose it core identity. Encore allows Astro to effectively chip away every item and Pokemon on the opposing side while making simultaneous progress through Spikes-stacking, thus leaving it free to click Fire Lash lategame to wear down even the sturdiest of walls. Toxapex, a prime physical wall that resists Fire Lash and has access to two different types of recovery in its Ability AND Recover can't always stay in vs. Astro for fear of getting Fire Lashed down to -3/4 and Knock doing 50 when it's struggling while locked into Recover, unable to advance the gamestate in a meaningful way outside of switching out. Encore also makes hyper offensive a very scary game style, since Astro is just fast enough to Encore a lot of the primary threats into their set-up moves or the screen setter into a singular screen.
Wish and Heal Bell make Astrolotl a Cleric and a passer on top of it being a fast Regenerator pivot and give it the tools it needs to always be in top condition if it decides to. The switches that its other moves sometimes force when combined with Astro's insane defensive typing mean that at multiple times, Wishpassing comes with little to no risk.

I'm against Knock Off and Fire Lashed being axed as, by themselves, they don't break what Astrolotl is. It's when you get into its very, very deep status move pool that it becomes an issue. Spikes could be looked at, too.

overall, I've called for an Astro nerf ever since DLC2 came out and the breakers we got loved the support it provided for them. The salamander has had its time in the limelight but it's time for it to go back to hiding for the winter.
 

spoo

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1) Do you think Astrolotl's presence in the metagame reaches a bar such that a nerf is needed?
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2) What aspects of Astrolotl do you consider to be out of line, or potentially nerf-worthy?
I see two main issues with Astrolotl, those being: astro makes progress every time it comes in, and it's impossible to punish it for doing so.
To me, this first issue is essentially what quziel was talking about with the strategy of “set spikes -> knock boots -> force switches.” Astrolotl’s versatility in its 4th moveslot is a massive enabler of this as well—encore and twave are both incredible at forcing switches and buying yourself free turns to set spikes/click knock, and other utility moves like wish and heal bell can reset a frustrating amount of progress made by the opponent in just one or two turns. Though, what’s important isn’t just that Astrolotl has access to a large amount of effective options, but that it can use all of these options freely and without risk of punishment.

It has enough bulk to live most hits comfortably, the speed and movepool to force out many would-be checks, and it can knock off rocky helmets from most of its consistent answers; what this all means is that Astro loses next to nothing in the majority of situations where it’s actively making progress. It can stay in, eat a hit or two, and take advantage of its foe, and when it switches in 1-2 more times that interaction will have effectively never happened for Astrolotl yet the disadvantage stays very real for its opponent. Moves like wish and encore can also let Astro stay in longer versus its checks or force annoying 50/50’s in situations like a Slowbro using future sight. Astrolotl is exceptional at repeatedly gaining these small advantages throughout the course of a game and there isn’t really a way to punish it. Even if Astrolotl finds itself facing a Pokemon that can legitimately threaten it back, there’s nothing stopping Astro from just running from the matchup and collecting its regenerator healing; the mon is nearly impossible to pin down.

As for potential ways to address these issues- targeting Astro’s movepool is an elegant solution that gets right at the heart of what makes Astrolotl problematic, while a stat nerf would likely preserve Astro's general identity better; personally I’d rather nerf its movepool, but a stat nerf is still a great choice despite being a little more complicated. I think if we want a successful movepool nerf, we'll have to remove one of spikes, knock, or lash, in addition to either wish or encore, though knock + encore is my favored combination. Knock Off contributes immensely to both of Astro's issues I laid out, as it's one of the best ways in the game to consistently make progress and it removes the ability to force passive damage on Astro from many of its checks. Without rocky helmet, Slowbro and Toxapex become really ineffective at answering Astro, and Tomohawk's already-inconsistent efficacy gets cut down even further. The threat of removing hdb is also huge, as it makes something like Mandibuzz never really want to come in and deal with you while forcing other grounded mons to sacrifice their immunity to spikes. It's a huge reason for why Astro is so damn self sufficient, and axing the move would immensely limit how effective Astro is on its own.

I won't say too much about encore because SHSP and Lasen explain the issues behind it pretty well—basically I don't think encore is necessarily the best option for its 4th slot, but it invalidates a ton of really dumb shit and lets Astro BS through its checks just as effectively as Wish does. I'd also like to hear more arguments in favor of a stat nerf or a combination of stats/moves, as I think there's a lot to dig into there, but removing knock + encore is where my head's at right now.
 
Astrolotl is an extremely overbearing presence on the CAP metagame due to the combination of its utility movepool and Regenerator making this Pokemon able to make progress even against most of its checks Tomohawk, for instance, is theoretically able to wall Astrotl effectively, but in practice, Astrolotl gets to stay in for two Hurricanes, clicking Knock Off, Spikes, or Fire Lash until it is forced to switch out. Against most passive walls, Astrolotl can continue to click its utility moves and not be forced out for a few turns. The exception to this is defensive mons with Knock Off, but even then if the Astrolotl's team has reliable removal, they can just decide to take the Knock Off and then your would-be answer likely becomes a sitting duck for Astrolotl to set up Spikes on. Even its most common switch-ins, Tyranitar and Hydreigon, can't OHKO Astrolotl unless they're running Rock Blast and Draco Meteor respectively, and if not, Astrolotl gets to stay in another turn to set up Spikes, get chipped down to 40%, and then switch out. You always have to offensive pressure Astrolotl, and it's super risky to bring in your offensive mons, as most all of them hate to be Knocked and simply can't outlast Astrolotl over the course of a game. Even then Astrolotl isn't truly forced out unless an OHKO is threatened. Many games have been played where Astrolotl takes ~80% from a Cinderace Gunk Shot in exchange for a Knock Off, and while the Cinderace is crippled for the rest of the game, the Astrolotl is back to full some turns later. All these factors make it so that Astrolotl's answers are few and far between.

Like many have already said, Astrolotl's 4th move lets it BS past so many of its answers. Besides just Encore and Wish, Astrolotl can tech in several lesser-played options to really screw over the opponent. For instance, Will-o-Wisp lets Lotl stay in for a turn on Tyranitar, Landorus-Therian, and Garchomp; Thunder Wave lets Astrolotl cripple most every offensive mon; Stomping Tantrum lets Astrolotl muscle past Heatran; Draco Meteor lets Astrolotl blow back Hydreigon. While these options are not really used at much, their mere existence makes fighting Astrolotl all the scarier and considering that Astrolotl's movepool will likely be trimmed, we should also consider the effects these moves will have.

These factors considered, the ways to nerf Astrolotl are boiled down to:

a) Reduce Astrolotl's Longevity/Ability to switch in

Ideally, this would be my favorite option, but in practice, this seems extremely difficult to do effectively without either nerfing Astrolotl to the ground or making changes that are extremely difficult to predict their impact of. I'd say removing Regenerator and replacing it with other recovery is near impossible to predict the effect of, and as such should be avoided. Bulk nerfs are awkward as well, because as I mentioned earlier, Astrolotl is only really forced out if an OHKO is threatened. Its 108/74/64 bulk is actually on paper quite mediocre and nerfing it more just seems strange. Reducing Astrolotl's speed to reduce its ability to switch in is also an option, but besides Krilowatt, most of the mons Astrolotl comes in on are already quite slow so I don't know how relevant a speed nerf will be.

b) Reduce Astrolotl's ability to make progress during free turns

This target's Astrolotl's bread-and-butter Fire Lash, Knock Off, Spikes combo. In terms of which one to remove, we all seem to be in consensus that Fire Lash should stay, and I agree. Between Spikes and Knock Off, I would say I'm in favor of removing Knock Off. I think that Spikes are definitely more pro-concept between the two, give Astrolotl a distinct niche in the meta, and are just more interesting to use. Wish also plays into this, although I do think Wish is more of a symptom of Astrolotl's main issues rather than a root problem. Personally, my main problem with Wish is that the restrictive number of switch-ins to Astrolotl makes Wish-passing to certain Pokemon, mainly Equilibra, fairly easy to do. Still, I would think it's overall to see Wish go than to keep it.

c) Increase the number of switch-ins to Astrolotl

This will mainly involve the movepool cuts, specifically removing Knock Off as well as the possible 4th moves. Knock Off allows so many more mons to answer Astrolotl; Moltres, Kilowatt, Cinderace, and Zapdos among others are now pretty free to stay in on it. As mentioned before, I do think that Astrolotl's "4th move" options should be cut down, especially if we plan on removing either Spikes or Knock Off.

That being said, my proposed change to Astrolotl would be to remove Knock Off, Encore, Wish, Thunder Wave, Will-o-Wisp, and Stomping Tantrum.
 

Voltage

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As someone who's going to be making a decision on this matter, I thought I'd briefly chime in with my thoughts on Astro. Like many have stated previously, Astrolotl does a terrifyingly good job at effectively making progress in a game through a variety of different means. I think the biggest way Astro does this is consistently pressuring an opponent to switch and therein allowing it to click Knock Off. I also think that Astro's ability to deal with a lot of its proposed "Pressure" mons from concept really allows it to be a force to be reckoned with. Lots of people have already said it, so I'll briefly state that I agree, Astrolotl should be nerfed in some capacity.

I've ben doing a lot of building and testing with Astro since the plans of the nerf began, and I wanted to try out a variety of different movesets to see where Astro really was having the largest amount of success. I found that in most of the time I was building, I was adding Astro to a team primarily for spikes coverage, Knock Off, or the dreaded freedom in the fourth moveslot. IT's this final consideration that I would really like to focus on here. I really like how Lasen drew comparisons between Astro's fourth move and USM Equilibra's ability, and how, while it's not impossible to predict what it may be, a single mistake in your guess can be a game-losing error. With Encore, you can literally watch me misplay with my Landorus-T in the OP of this thread, while with things like Thunder Wave, it can be as simple as clicking the move when your opponent thinks you might be Encore. I've also used Wish and Healing Wish on Astro a number of times and there's absolutely merit to those moves as well, and I'm able to use them effectively since that fourth move on Astro could be ANYTHING (And yes while movesets can theoretically have any move, you're not going to see a Ferrothorn run Energy Ball or Pin Missile or something of that nature). I would ideally like to reduce this "black-box" nature of the fourth move at least in some capacity, whether that means removing Encore and Wish, or something of that nature.

There's also again, the magic of some of Astrolotl's stats, that I think some people have brought up, but I would like to echo. Show of hands, who was playtesting CAP27 on the test Showdown Server with the EV spread 32 HP / 252 SpD / 224 Spe ? I don't think many people were, and I can speak to how much playtesting there was. When the stats stage occurred, many of the plans regarding stats didn't take into account the amount of bulk people run on Astro. Astro's bulk is perhaps a bit of a mirage due in part to Heavy Duty Boots + Regenerator + a really really good typing, but I do see some merit in lowering some stats a little bit. As for a specific number, I haven't seen or thought of any solid benchmarks myself, but there is always merit to lowering its speed a little bit. I was one of the ones suggesting Astro should outspeed Cawm in the original stats, stage, I won't deny that, but even just making it so Astro speed ties with Base 110s without a scarf would really help mitigate some of the issues people would have with Astro in my opinion When your Astro speed ties with Latios, you still maintain the pressure on your opponent for switching in, but now Astro isn't going to be consistently beating it the way it can with Knock Off. However, I don't think I've seen any concrete benchmarks on stats that would verify the status of "nerf" with regards to speed besides bringing it below 110 Speed, or removing some of its special bulk. Basically, I think reducing stats on Astro has merit, but I don't have a good idea of how much or how little would be good without completely going overboard.

I would like to say that I think removing Fire Lash from Astro's movepool is a ludicrous idea, and it doesn't at all solve the Problem with Astrolotl. I think most people agree with me on this, but I still think it warrants a rebuttal. Fire Lash is not what makes Astrolotl an issue, because Fire Lash forces switches. It's what Astro can do with those switches is what makes it a problem offensively. Admittedly, this is kind of like a "Chicken vs. egg" problem here, but I think of it this way. Without Fire Lash, Astrolotl still causes some serious damage to the opponent by having access to so many other potent progression tactics like Knock Off, Encore, and even making smart double switches to recover HP with Regenerator. With Fire Lash, but without one of the three piece I just listed, yes, Astro ay be forcing switches, but it cannot capitalize on them nearly as well. In short removing Fire Lash isn't the answer, and I'm glad people seem to agree with me here.

This is getting long, so I'll wrap this up with where I'm at. I think we need to at least remove one more prominent aspect of Astrolotl's utility toolbox, along with perhaps some additional smaller nerfs. Removing one of Knock Off or Spikes (but not both) along with some of those "Fourth move options" like Encore or Wish is absolutely one of the ways we could go about this ad I think is my preferred option. There's also again the option of removing the move Encore and some speed which would be good, but not enough I think. In reference to Darek's post, I think removing a wide variety of the fourth moveslot options isn't the way to go since Astro still, while the inability to predict the fourth moveslot isn't as overbearing, Astrolotl still has complete access to what it already does best: making progress in games with little to no risk. My mind isn't made up yet, and I am taking every post in this thread into account so that I can make a well-informed decision on where this nerf should go, and PLEASE if you have any last ideas, SHARE THEM!

tl;dr astro need nerf, pls post more, luh u
 

DetroitLolcat

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So I haven't been playing the meta a ton lately, but I've watched a good chunk of the Snake Draft and was around plenty for the first Astro nerf. For starters, I'm very glad that we're going to nerf this thing again. The first one didn't go far enough and this mon's biggest problems - namely, its ability to switch into countless Pokemon and wreak havoc with Spikes, Knock Off, Fire Lash, and countless other support/disruption options such as Wish, Encore or even Stomping Tantrum. The real crux of Astrolotl is, of course, Regenerator, which lets Lotl take one or two hits and still get Spikes up, Knock an item, or do one of its things. Because of this, as mentioned by Darek851, Astrolotl isn't truly forced out unless an OHKO is threatened.

Because of this, there are two schools of thought on how to nerf Astro. The first is to reduce the options Astro has upon switch-in while the other is to limit Astro's capacity to get into battle. I'm more partial to the latter, as I like Astro's extreme versatility and splashability on teams. Because Astrolotl can perform so many roles: Spike setter, item Knocker, setup-stopper with Encore, etc, it allows for the Astrolotl user to put a wider variety of Pokemon and roles on its team. Most teams will have the things Astrolotl provides anyway, by letting them all go on one Pokemon you open the rest of the team to more diverse options as well. This is both healthy for the metagame and in line with Astrolotl's concept of offensive support.

As Darek mentioned, there are examples of, say, Astrolotl double switching to a Cinderace, taking 80% from a Gunk Shot, then Knocking Off the Cinderace's HDB. This cripples the Cinderace for the rest of the game while providing only a mild annoyance for the Astrolotl user because Astrolotl will just Regenerate the HP back. It's not hard to get Astrolotl into battle; and even if the Astrolotl user gets out-predicted on a double switch it just means another 33% HP back for Astro. This fundamentally goes against Astrolotl's concept. It was meant to be an offensive support Pokemon, not a mon that can laugh off hits from the best offensive pivot in the game.

As a result, we should make it easier to threaten Astrolotl out of battle. To go ahead with the Cinderace example, Astrolotl wouldn't be able to cripple the Cinderace if it was threatened with an OHKO by Gunk Shot or High Jump Kick. Astrolotl wouldn't be able to switch in on Clefable, set up Spikes, and get out if it was 2HKO'd by Moonblast. To do this, I suggest taking deep cuts to Astrolotl's bulk.

Astrolotl should not live Earth Power from Equilibra. It shouldn't be living hits from Tapu Lele. It should not laugh at Clefable. Tomohawk should be 2HKOing this Pokemon with Hurricane. So long as Astrolotl can take one hit from all of these Pokemon, it can click Spikes or Knock Off at barely any cost to its user. That's bad for the metagame and wholly out of line with Astrolotl's concept in the first place.

Imagine, for example, we reduced Astrolotl's base Special Defense down to 36 and dropped its HP to base 99. Assuming it runs an EV spread of 32 HP / 252 SpD / 226 Spe Jolly, here's how it does against some of the Pokemon it used to laugh at.

4 SpA Equilibra Earth Power vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 318-374 (91.6 - 107.7%) -- 50% chance to OHKO
112 SpA Equilibra Earth Power vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 348-410 (100.2 - 118.1%) -- guaranteed OHKO

252 SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl in Psychic Terrain: 264-312 (76 - 89.9%) -- guaranteed OHKO after Stealth Rock
0 SpA Tomohawk Hurricane vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 184-217 (53 - 62.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock

(Note that Aura Sphere + Hurricane will also likely OHKO at this point, too, meaning that Tomohawk needs to hit only one Hurricane, not two)

252+ SpA Choice Specs Magearna Fleur Cannon vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 483-568 (139.1 - 163.6%) -- guaranteed OHKO
252+ SpA Magearna Fleur Cannon vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 322-379 (92.7 - 109.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO after Stealth Rock

0 SpA Zapdos Hurricane vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 198-234 (57 - 67.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock

0 SpA Clefable Moonblast vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 135-160 (38.9 - 46.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock
0 SpA Life Orb Clefable Moonblast vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 175-208 (50.4 - 59.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Stealth Rock

176 SpA Slowking-Galar Sludge Bomb vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 169-201 (48.7 - 57.9%) -- 96.1% chance to 2HKO

252 SpA Life Orb Krilowatt Surf vs. 32 HP / 252 SpD Astrolotl: 196-231 (56.4 - 66.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

As you can see, by taking deep, serious cuts to Astrolotl's bulk, it loses its ability to set up on things it honestly has no business setting up on while still performing its role as a trickster cleric with aplomb. I don't have a problem with Astrolotl stopping a CM Magearna from setting up, but I do have a problem with Astrolotl switching into a Specs Magearna and taking the hit anyway. Same deal with Tapu Lele.

But it wouldn't ruin Astrolotl at all! It would still punish passive Pokemon such as non-Thunder Wave Ferrothorn or non-Toxic Toxapex well. And even if it suffers status, the replays above show that it's still a good Pokemon. It would also reward the Astrolotl user for smart double switches and punish the Astrolotl user for bad predictions. No more switching into Zapdos, Clefable, non-Specs Lele, or Galarian Slowking for free. You have to predict the Roost, the Stealth Rock, or the Flamethrower if you want to bring in Astrolotl.

Astrolotl was not meant to switch into bulky offensive Pokemon with no risk, it was meant to spread chaos on the opponent's side of the field or heal its own when given a free turn. Let's make Astrolotl work a lot harder for those free turns by deep-cutting its bulk.
 
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Bughouse

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Not to entirely re-litigate Astrolotl, but it really should have had Sticky Hold instead of Regenerator and then it would have been forced to use a turn and a moveslot in order to get recovery and then it would at least sometimes lose momentum instead of constantly gain it with every single action it takes :)
The principal problem here is the constant passive recovery of Regenerator on a Pokemon that is also pretty much designed to be risk free and make constant progress with nearly every move it commonly uses.

I concede it's probably too late to change to Sticky Hold + Reliable Recovery move (I think this would be required, as I think Wish+Tect Astrolotl with only two other available move slots would likely be quite poor, and naked Wish with Sticky Hold instead of Regenerator seems bad as well), but I do think that would have been the best path...

I do not think that touching Wish, Knock Off, Fire Lash, or Encore makes much sense given Astrolotl's purpose was offensive support and all of these moves exemplify that and are also all clearly not individually overly powerful moves. I am quite frankly struggling to comprehend any posts arguing that Encore, a move pretty rarely used ever since its introduction in Generation 2(!) and never before to my knowledge claimed to be broken on any Pokemon, is broken on Astrolotl.

Spikes is likely the biggest problem of the bunch and also the least necessary for Astrolotl to individually pose a threat. Reducing the role compression and forcing hazards to come from another teammate will require more pivoting around on the part of the Astrolotl user to actually get spikes set and targets Knocked, etc., and thus make it more difficult for the Astrolotl user to make constant progress. Removing Spikes alone is probably a sufficient nerf.

Alternatively, I think DLC's suggestion to cut bulk would be an easy fix that would not require touching movepool. The point here is to reduce the number of Pokemon that Astrolotl can truly come in on/sit in on and do its thing. I think this option however would require very careful testing to ensure that the bulk is not so overnerfed that Astrolotl essentially becomes unviable. There is definitely a risk of that with this option, whereas removing a move or two from the movepool should not carry this risk. I'm not sure that DLC's numbers are the right ones, but they're worth considering.
 

quziel

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We recently concluded the Astrolotl Nerfing Session. Following is an abridged schedule:

  • Discussion of whether Astrolotl should be nerfed (passed)
    • Points in favor were how consistently Astrolotl can make progress in almost every game.
    • Additional points were how it can trivially extend game length using wish.
    • 4th Slot options were seen as a chore to guess.
  • If a nerf is to happen what should be removed?
    • Initial Discussion of the options (Bulk Nerf, Fire Lash Removal, Knock Off, Spikes, 4th Slot Options, Speed Nerf, Regenerator)
    • Bulk nerf was discussed first, and was dismissed because of the complexity that came with it when Move or Speed removals would work.
    • Regenerator Removal was also discussed and dismissed as we felt that it would be overly harsh and hard to predict the effects of.
    • Knock Off was then discussed due to its relations to both Fire Lash and Spikes, and was selected as a possible contender for removal.
    • Fire Lash was discussed and dismissed as we felt it was not really the root of the problem.
    • A Speed nerf was discussed but was not viewed as the root of the issue.
    • Spikes was discussed and dismissed as we felt that it was too much of the identity of Astrolotl, and was primarily problematic due to its interaction with Knock Off.
    • Knock Off was then voted on for removal, receiving unanimous support.
  • Are there any nerfs needed beyond Knock Off?
    • Fire Lash was discussed and dismissed as it was viewed as only problematic due to its interaction with Knock Off
    • Spikes was again dismissed as it was viewed as only problematic due to Knock Off, and doing a Spikes and Knock Off removal would be too much.
    • A speed nerf was discussed, but was viewed as unnecessary, as moderate nerfs would not impact matchups (without Knock Off Latios might check either way).
    • We then moved onto 4th slot options:
      • Wish was an early front runner as it is a huge part of what Astrolotl extend games, and really just manipulate game length.
      • Encore was discussed as an alternate nerf, but we thought it was primarily an issue because of its interaction with Knock Off.
      • Status Moves were discussed and dismissed as not being the root of the issue.
    • Wish was then voted on, receiving 4 votes for removal, and one abstain.
  • Are there any nerfs needed beyond Knock Off and Wish?
    • Encore was briefly discussed, but removal was viewed as unnecessary after Knock Off and Wish were removed.
Outcome: Remove Knock Off and Wish from Astrolotl

Tagging Annika for implementation (Please do so on Sunday night after the current round of the CAP seasonal ends)

----

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, they were very helpful for both gauging community opinion on the matter as well as helping us to really put our thoughts about Astrolotl in order. We will have a PRC thread about improving the nerfing process up soon, so expect to see that.
 
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