BW is a crummy metagame

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And I don't think I'm alone in this thinking. During SPL, the playerbase made an intentional effort of pushing the boundaries, and we saw a smattering of different playstyles. Smurf.'s age old hyper offensive team became prevalent with slight updates, and this brought forth a wave of metagame responses. In the past year, too, we have seen players continually optimize their resources. Substitute/Protect/Rapid Spin Tentacruel, for example, made use of the Pokemon's ability to thrive in the Rain ditto. Breloom sets have been repeatedly optimized, with Grass Gem and 3 Attack Toxic Orb being realized. Following the suit of ORAS, Imprison Landorus has poked its head; Cloyster has been a factor; Volcarona still remains dominant as ever.

While I usually anticipate a revival in a tier I love, the more I play it, much to my chagrin, the more I realize the very feeble balance the tier possess. The fulcrum of the metagame is situated atop a bevy of incredibly overpowered strategies. Tentacruel in Rain; Excadrill in sand; Magic Guard with support; LATIOS; Keldeo; Thundurus; the list goes on and on. If you've followed BW's history at all, you would recognize it was a first for lots of things—the first tier with such high power strategies, the first tier with team preview, the first tier with permanent Rain and Sun, the first tier that really diverted from 'traditional' Pokemon.

This has been reiterated before, but I'll say it again: this tier has been handled like dogshit. And I'm also partially to blame! When the tier was a current gen, we had bad tier leaders that left current BWrs to inherit a tier that is so chalked. We have never had a cogent response to any element of brokenness. Instead, we have created a loose patchwork of bans that have created a vaguely familiar and "balanced" metagame, but more and more I play it, the more and more I realize that it's bad! This tier is bad! It's not good! And it's not fun!

You don't have to take my word for it: lots of the BW community has expressed upset as of late with regards to the volatility and the oppressiveness of threats that make building and consistency seem impossible. In many cases, especially for rain matchups, it feels like you have to negotiate your resources with guesswork. Your Tentacruel having Substitute or Toxic can win or lose the game, for example, depending on if you hit the right matchup with it. And I believe this is emblematic of how the tier is set up: you are really on edge against all the threats that the smallest decisions in the builder matter so much, to the point of it being not fun!

This thread is meant to act as a hub of people discussing their views on the current BW metagame. How do we move forward? Is there a way forward? Do we accept what we have? Do we wait for more 'development'? Do we try to make amends?
 
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Oglemi

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But seriously, I've been saying this for years, run a series of tournaments with the following banned:
Sand Stream
Snow Warning
Drizzle
Drought
Baton Pass
Magnezone
Volcarona
Keldeo
Latios
Excadrill
Maybe kyub, reun/alaka, and landot

And see how it plays out. My gut feeling is that you'll have a better metagame all around. These are all things that have either hit the banlist in the tier prior, or almost were.
 

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I think it's been long enough with a heavy enough pool of evidence across multiple generations that it's safe to say that Scald is a fundamentally broken move in basically every metagame it's allowed in and it would be incredibly easy to justify getting rid of it at least here. This is coming from someone who's always been on the "don't ban PARTS of Pokémon, ban the offending Pokémon themselves!", this move is ridiculous on basically anything that can use it.

I don't have any broader high-level metagame analyses or points to make I just think that getting rid of this move would be really neat and an argument can easily be made not just that it's "too luck-based" or "uncompetitive" but actually overpowered. I'm sure that there's plenty of interesting debate to be had about getting rid of things like Latios and Keldeo but I'll let the people who are smarter than me assess the ramifications of such tiering actions.
 

Posho

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This is just a premature suggestion that I'm making based off of what we're chatting in the BW discord, but I wanna leave it documented it before my thoughts become more dilluted on the matter.

Honestly, if you find that the metagame is unfixable right now, the best way to go perhaps is to take some steps back: say, pre-Excadrill metagame or whatever and find out which restrictions have paved the way for a healthier environment in the metagame (hint: probably sleep and dug/goth bans).

People have made threads wanting to ban King's Rock or even discussed removing Reuniclus from the tier, for instance. And honestly, I feel that right now the way these discussions have been conducted stem from mere nitpicks rather than targetting actual issues in the metagame, which has ultimately led to where we're at today.

In my philosophy, metagames should strike a balance between overpoweredness and balance. I feel that the metagame should endorse various playstyles with some busted assets for each. If any of those goes out of control, I don't think the answer is to immediately ban it but to see how people adapt to it and perhaps we'll behold a resurgence of new and unique threats, and so on, so forth.

Let me know if I was clear enough and whether you feel this goes against tiering policy or not. I'm not the most knowledgeable guy, but BW is like my very own child and I hold it very dear, so I don't' want to see it die out like this :(
 
i feel like even though bw seems like a tier with a lot of creativity right now given the efforts of the spl playerbase, it seems very evident to me that there are two playstyles that you really should be relying on to consistently win games: ho with volcarona (smurf ho and variants), and sand with magic guard spam.

the latter has been an issue since the later stages of bw when it was the current gen. in fact, magic guard sand has always been so dominant that it was one of the main reasons why the excadrill unban happened after bw became a past gen. the idea was that excadrill would offer teams a way to reliably beat spikes from skarmory/ferrothorn, that way making room for sand teams that don't need to rely on magic guard/spikes immune mons to be viable. note that rain also religiously runs ferrothorn for spikes and had viable spinners in starmie/tentacruel compared to sand, which only had bulky starmie before the excadrill unban. even then sand was the most used playstyle, although almost always including skarmory and one of alakazam/reuniclus (mostly reun by the later stages of the metagame).

and even though the tier has gone through so many changes, i still don't think we've reached the stage people were hoping to reach, especially with the excadrill unban. the dugtrio ban served as a great way to completely kill one playstyle (sun), and the excadrill unban into the following sand rush ban also served as a great way to make rain almost unable to compete with some variants of sand.

realistically, what possible reason could you have to not run the abr triple psychic sand team? that team is immune to spikes on almost every single pokemon, immune to passive damage from sand and toxic on 4/6, and has a good matchup into virtually any sand or rain team. no wonder this is the team we've seen the most throughout recent bw tournaments, with only one slot being swapped around between latios/gastrodon because they're pretty much interchangeable.

the reason why we've seen a rise in ho, and specifically variants with cloyster and volcarona, is because these are the 2 pokemon that realiably beat this archetype. i don't think i need to go through spl replays, but even when i was preparing for finals vs abr's team i was specifically making sure my team would be able to beat both magic guard spam and the current most popular versions of ho. it obviously backfired in my case, but really these 2 playstyle are the ones currently in everyone's minds when it comes to bw.

the way i see it, we went through a lot of changes and actually didn't move forward whatsoever. yes, people also used sand teams with magnezone, celebi, excadrill and other archetypes that deviate from the status quo throughout spl, but i personally don't think they're ever gonna achieve the same level of consistency (and, honestly, straight up brokeness) from the abr magic guard spam team. and maybe it's too late to fix the tier, really. i personally think this is the worst state bw has ever been, because matchup-fishing has never been this crucial and creativity has never been so limited because of it. bringing cloyster with king's rock in ho teams and slapping in a milotic into your ttar/cele/zone/drill core is not creativity. it's just an attempt at fishing for a better matchup into a playstyle which clearly runs the tier. and it will work out sometimes, but most of the time, is it even worth the hassle?

if we wanna change the tier in a way that's effective then we gotta look into what caused it to reach its current state. i've expressed this opinion multiple times before and i could expand on it further, but the most important changes we should look into right now moving forward are:

(i) banning volcarona. this pokemon is 100% the most ridiculous thing in the bw ou tier right now. it has the incomparable ability to 6-0 pretty much any team from preview as long as it carries the correct set. we've all lost to volcarona in embarrassing ways before and this won't change anytime soon. volcarona right now is also a lot more broken compared to previous iterations of the bw tier because of multiple factors, such as rain becoming a lot worse compared to sand as a playstyle, the rise of mguard spam sand teams also made pokemon like keldeo, terrakion and heatran a lot worse (not immune to spikes and therefore easier to chip for mguard spam teams, so their usage drops), the amount of gliscor and skarmory in the tier making scarf chomp pretty much unviable. anyway, volcarona turns the bw tier into quite literally a matchup fish. if you opt to bring it and you happen to guess the right set, you're likely to win the game within 12 turns. and sure you can prepare against it, but then you're also making sure you lose to pretty much every other viable playstyle in the tier.

(ii) unbanning chlorophyll. now this is fairly obvious and i'm not sure why it hasn't been retested yet. chlorophyll is evidently not good anymore. ninetales can't compete with tyranitar and politoed as a weather setter. it's pretty much impossible to win the weather war as ninetales these days, which means pokemon like venusaur (really the only chloro abuser that'd be viable) wouldn't even have turns to be good. i understand the ability stays banned to keep the bw banlist "consistent" or whatever, but if we brought it back to bw ou i guarantee you sun would still be absolute dogshit, so i don't see any reason why it should stay banned.

(iii) unbanning tornadus-therian. realistically this is the only way i can see rain becoming a playstyle that has viable archetypes other than politoed/tentacruel/ferrothorn/latios variants. i (and others) have attempted to use different variations of rain and they're honestly just not as good/not worth the hassle. i don't even think tornadus-t was broken when it was banned to be honest, and i can't see how it'd be broken in a metagame where keeping rocks off the field can be so difficult for rain and where spdef glisc/skarm are so dominant.

(iv) ban excadrill, unban sand rush. last but not least, one that should've never changed. clearly we unbanned excadrill as an attempt to make magic guard spam worse. it actually accomplished that, because people like jayde innovated by using rain + sand rush drill and it meant sand was really hard to pilot vs those teams. when that happened, though, we banned sand rush. and then the status quo returned to the state it was before excadrill was unbanned and we lost a viable sand rush option in stoutland, which also gave hippodown sand teams viability (easier to pair zone with stoutland and hippo than with ttar). i find excadrill right now to be in a weird limbo where it's still an extremely annoying mon to prep for because it's legitimately broken (highest base attack in the tier, p much perfect coverage, 1.3x boost from sand force), but it's also extremely underwhelming whenever you face skarmory spikes (pretty much every game). basically excadrill makes teambuilding a lot more challenging because you can't afford to be weak to it, but then you also open yourself up to multiple other threats by preparing for a mon that can be really underwhelming vs some matchups.

i know some of these changes may seem drastic and that my depiction of the bw tier might seem overly dramatic, but i think it's important to point out that bw was one of (if not the) tier that went through the biggest amount of changes after it became a past generation. and i'm not talking like "oh we nerfed baton pass" like it is for adv, we literally banned some of the most important metagame-defining aspects of the tier repeatedly. first it was speed boosting weather abilities (sand rush, chlorophyll), then arena trap, then shadow tag, then sleep moves. and that's not even taking into account the multiple changes the tier went through when it was the current gen. genesect and deoxys-defense were both ou for a very long time, contributing to the viability of different archetypes of ho and even sun. tornadus-t as well. keldeo was suspected and not banned. latios was suspected and not banned.

what i don't understand is why people have been historically so keen to banning things that made magic guard sand teams worse, even if it meant drastic changes that would completely ruin the tier, but are now so opposed to new changes that would maybe help bring the tier back to a state where skill expression and fun are the most important elements like it used to. right now, bw feels like a boring, matchup-fishy, trash tier. i'd go as far as saying it's likely the worst old gen excluding rby. and maybe even worse than rby.

anyway this ended up being a lot longer than i intended, but i hope this maybe opens up some folks' minds because i've always been actively against pretty much every single change to the bw tier after its resolution, and i feel like watching bw this spl was not enjoyable to anyone honestly. i certainly didn't enjoy playing it.
 
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FNH

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I can say that I have put a lot of work and time into helping expand the interest and resources of this tier from writing shitty threads to helping create the BW disc only to hand it over to the lord (finchy <3). So I think I have earned the right to give my 2 cents. Imma be honest, I actually have no idea as to the appropriate fixes for the tier, but I know that the more I play the tier the more I dislike it. I feel constantly drawn back to playing based on nostalgia. It was the CG when I started playing back on PS, that sense of nostalgia from the old days keeps me playing the tier

Anywho, I don’t think anyone has the correct road map to move forward as well. Hell, I would wager that some individuals would argue that we should leave it as it is. General discourse on the BW discord seems to indicate that players in general think Drizzle, Volc, and Ferrothorn are busted. Drizzle is busted because its enables the actually busted shit (Thundy-T, Tenta, specs Kel). The removal of Drizzle could potentially nerf the actually busted shit making them, well, not busted. Volcarona has been a target of hate since, hell, when I first started playing the tier. It's STAB's give it this MU fish where in some cases it just wins. Even with appropriate checks, it can still just win (with some luck ofc). Ferrothorn is also a target of hate recently due to its ability to just wall the hell outta the meta and reliably get up spikes. Well spikes are busted as well, and Excadrill didn’t fully solve this problem of spikes stacking. Other player complaints would target shit like the magic guard spikes archetypes or excadrill's raw power in the sand. Latios has been a problem as well and a common complaint from players about being busted. The Colbur’s set rise to prominence has further strengthened the M-guard + Latios style.

I don’t have any clue as to how to fix the damn tier, I just hate that it is broken and wish someone else should fix it for me. I was to choose though as to where to begin, well, I would start with:

1) Volcarona - Its been a source of complaint for years and it is about time that this mon was suspect tested. People have stated elsewhere that Volcarona tests would be a "knee jerk reaction". No, Volcarona has been a source of complaint for years, and to properly build a team that counters it is very restrictive. Shits busted.

2) test a drizzle ban - This would nerf Thundurus-t, Keldeo, and Tentacruel, all of which are just absurd. Retest shit like Tornadus-t and Manaphy in a drizzle-less meta.

3) Ferrothorn AND Scald - Scald and burn are stupid and Ferro's ability to get spikes up is just as busted. I think Scald has survived this long because it is the primary method of breaking ferrothorn. Just get rid of both of them.

I seriously don't know what else to add to this thread, other than to say I wish it stops existing. Stop trying to make stupid changes to tiers that are already stablished. This tier reached its zenith with the sleep ban, and any changes from there are just going to make it worse.
 
This is a complex issue because a lot of what gives BW its identity is the brokenness of different playstyles and the mons that embody it. Like a lot of other people who still play this meta I started when it was the current gen, and it is really unfortunate to see what is has come to. There are a few overly restricting threats that force teambuilding into rigid structures, the problem is there isn't one mon that could be banned in order to fix the metagame, thus an attempt to actually fix the metagame is sentenced to be either drastic or ineffective. BW is the "weather generation" and I feel we're desperately clinging onto that definition by keeping Drizzle alive when it's pretty clearly broken and imbalanced. There isn't even anything unique going on with rain, it's the same stupid fucking team just copy pasted with one or two mon changes. I don't think it's unfair to say rain is somewhat uncompetitive, scald is dumb and rain just creates an environment where it thrives. I don't see how rain can be fixed without banning like 3 mons, yeah if you ban Tentacruel it dies or if you ban Keldeo and Thundurus it is nerfed, but why not keep those around and just get rid of the source issue? Banning drizzle also allows for unbanning of Tornadus-T and Manaphy (maybe).

Ban Volcarona, Reuniclus, and Drizzle. If Drizzle isn't banned Keldeo easily needs to go, it might be ok without it. I'm not sure if sand force drill becomes broken or not without any significant weather competition.

Unbanning Chlorophyll is a bad idea. Sun teams are just gonna be rain but worse.
 
To me i still think the worst part about bw are the big 3 psychic types in reuni and especially kazam and latios. The later two are so restrictive in building in my opinion since lati is just so all around powerful and zam gives u rkiller and a wallbreaker thanks to its coverage in one pokemon. Id personally would like to see a meta without zam and maybe the other two.
 
Sand is common because Tyranitar is really the only (semi-)reliable way of staving off the incredibly broken threats the tier has (Drizzle + Latios + Magic Guard). There is a reason why the most consistent BW players have always gravitated towards sand; it's what you use when you want to actually have an answer to the most absurdly difficult-to-handle Pokemon around.

This is what leads to BW's current matchup problem. People try to go all-out on a sand counterteam by using weatherless HO. This style does have a good matchup against these teams. However, it tends to be pretty awful against rain. Of course, rain tends to get destroyed by any decent(ly played) sand (handling Latios alone is absurd, let alone Latios and its Magic Guard friends). Funnily enough, sand teams can also make tweaks that turn them into near-autowins against weatherless HO (as anyone who was around ScarfChomp's dominance will recall). However, such changes make them far, far worse against opposing sand. If you read ABR or my SPL shoutout posts (feel free to consult them if you haven't), we touched upon why this process can be so exhausting when building BW - it is absolutely nightmarish to have to choose between covering set of broken threats A or B or C. It's always the same problem.

There is give and take in any teambuilding choice. However, in BW, each give and take is too drastic. There is too little room for outplaying the opponent in a less-than-ideal matchup. A healthy metagame should not have this volatile guessing dynamic.

The problem is not sand. The problem is the litany of threats that force you to use sand if you want to not get slaughtered by these very common, very top-tier Pokemon. That is what sets the matchup-fishing dynamic of the tier in motion.
 

peng

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First off I want to give a lot of credit to the modern BW council - you guys inherited a flawed metagame based on inconsistent tiering approaches and loopholes and have made several excellent decisions recently to make this game playable - see both Sleep and trapping suspects.

Long story short I think passive damage is the root cause of a lot of BWs issues. With the exception of HO, you need to build teams that can nullify the influence of Scald and Spikes, which limits you to a really small pool of Pokemon. For Scald, your "safe" switch-ins are Reuniclus, Celebi, Water absorb, Refresh users, and Breloom. Anything else and you're playing with 30%s repeatedly every time you face Rain. For Spikes, you need Excadrill/Tentacruel, or to commit to a superman archetype with the likes of Reuniclus, Alakazam, Latios, Gliscor, Skarmory, Landorus-T, Rotom-W etc.

(note I'm not even mentioning rain here because modern rain needs to drop Refresh on Poli for Encore if it actually wants to reliably beat PsySpam, so basically it just accepts the 30% Scald risks and is inherently inconsistent as a result)

That looks like a long list of mons but find me a good Volc answer in there? Thunder Wave Tyranitar, Thunder Wave Alakazam, and Scarf Latios are the best anti-Volc options on any serious sand team that tries to stop itself getting lucked out by scald or bled out by Spikes, and these options aren't even reliable. Note that any Volcarona team worth its salt will specifically be build to overload your Latios/Zam to Pursuit it, and use Bug Gem Volcarona to smash past Tyranitar. Similarly, find me a good ice resist in the Pokemon listed above? Ice-resistant mons that don't fold to hazards or residual damage are insanely difficult to find, hence the uptick in Cloyster and Mamoswine to punish safe Sand teambuilding.

This is where the issue lies. We all have experiences of building a team that looks beautiful in the builder but is straight up unviable because it risks too many 30% scald burns, or is too Spikes weak. Reuniclus / Zam emerge as the face of BW because they are simultaneously the easiest way to stop yourself getting bled out by passive damage whilst simultaneously abusing these elements better than anything else. Excadrill has not fixed this issue.

I do not know what the best course of action is but trust me when I say that top players have tried really hard to stretch the boundaries of teambuilding and make Volc-proof sands that aren't ruined by passive damage + Psyspam, or by Rain Keldeo paired with Scalders. A solution has not presented itself. We can all look and see that Scarf Garchomp is amazing against Smurf but actually try and build a team with it that handles Spikes or Reuniclus well? That said, I'm not even sure that a Volcarona ban "fixes" BW because despite being uncounterable within the scope of solid Sand Pokemon, banning it just makes PsySpam even more difficult to punish?

Stuff I think that should be at least considered in BW:
Latios
Reuniclus
Alakazam
Volcarona
Keldeo
Drizzle
Scald
Spikes / Ferrothorn

I know the last two sound dumb as fuck but we have danced around the subject of Rain and Magic Guard spam for so so so long without looking at what actually makes these things good. People from other gens will think a Spikes ban in Gen 5 is dumb af but do consider this is the only gen where Ferro exists without good Defog. Similarly, Scald ban looks stupid too from the outside but remember that its either boosted by rain or stacking with perma sand, both of which make ubiquitous burning tough to deal with. It deals 12% in this gen, and even minor stuff like, not properly interacting with Facade means even the creative options to deal with it are limited.

edit: just to say i'm not 100% saying ban scald / spikes but i do think this should at least be spoken about as the 2 biggest limiting factors in bw teambuilding
 
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I don't have the legitimacy of the players that posted before me, but since I joined Smogon I practically have been playing only BW and I think that I have some knowledge about the metagame.
In my opinion the main problem with this metagame is the prevalence of hazards, especially spikes. We have to recognize it, the tools against hazard are not good enough, we experienced it without and with excadrill, we have to get to the source.
I don't think Skarmory is the problem since spinners don't have so much trouble against it and also spikes are not broken in DPP, I think Ferro is. It is why ABR's Sand is so good, it is immune to the greatest force of BW : Spikes, Ferro's Spikes.

So I recommend banning Ferrothorn.
I mean we are at some point where a BW brain like BKC thinks that this is a viable option to equip Rawst Berry + Some attacks EVs in order to keep your hazards safe against excadrill. Is this where we wanna go ?
With no Ferrothorn around Psychics will drop in usage/viability not only because they benefit from Spikes but also because they nullify them.
Elodin showed exactly what were the power and the counterpower in this meta, so H.O will be less prevalent.
Rain will in my opinion benefit from it with some undiscovered strategies and the return of Jirachi that will hugely increase the match-up against the Psychics.
I think that there is enough to deal with Latios and Keldeo as I predict a rise of the regenerator pokemon such as Slowking that are too much affected by spikes to be viable (see BKC post about Slowking + Excadrill in BW HUB), and anyway Tyranitar will come way more easily on latios that thus will see a decrease in Colbur usage.
Also Celebi will have better days against scald, not forced to recover every times it comes on the field and thus losing momentum.
Every broken things on this meta benefits from ferro's spike, and every tricks to beat this reliably showed their default with the rise of Smurf (see McMeghan's magneton sand in recent tournament games)

Not everything will be perfect without spikes, I think that H.O might be too good and that maybe we should be reconsidering Manaphy for rain teams.
If this path is chosen Excadrill might be too good with a Sub-Set as well, sure.
But no more triple Psychics, no more spin war, scald war more manageable, Latios will drop in versatility and sheer power...
I (and apparently a bunch of players) feel like this year, especially in BW, I spend too much time preparing a match-up and this has to stop.

(ouch I realise that while I was writting peng said some similar things but I still post it because we are still noticing different points)
 
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Ace-11

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Overall, the main issue with BW is the matchup problem and how little you can do if you run into a non ideal one. Sand+Psyshic types hard wins vs Rain (almost all the time). Sand losses to HOs featuring Volcarona (most of the time). Rain wins vs Weatherless HOs that are not Dragmag (usually). It has turned into a pretty bad matchup rock-paper-scissors fest and I don't think banning something is ideal, as nothing seems flat out broken to me and even banning something like Latios for example, it will have a nasty domino effect on the metagame with its absence. I think unbanning sand rush would help (outside of sand obviously), as it would make rain teams more viable since they would be able to tackle opposing sand teams better and reduce the matchup issue. Personally, I didn't want sand rush to get banned when it did, because it never seemed problematic to me, but if the majority wanted that, then I'm ok with it. Other than that, I don't know what could be done.
 
Sand is the best answer to Rain, Hyper Offense is the best answer to Sand, Rain is the best answer to Hyper Offense, you can see how BW games can be heavily influenced by the matchup.
You can try to tech to make the unfavourable matchup slightly better but not only you'll most likely still lose, you're also making the matchup against the playstyles you are usually fine against worse.

BW is a tier balanced on a house of cards, the balance is very feeble and a standalone ban would probably break it, so I don't see a way to truly fix it without multiple bans, to reduce the powercreep whilst not letting any playstyle / Pokémon come up on top.

Volcarona as elodin said is the most ridiculous Pokémon in the tier, it can 6-0 a game from preview depending on your set and what the opponent is running. In that sense Volcarona is unique and the only reason HO is any good against Sand. If you're facing the typical Triple Psychic Sand you most likely won't even need the 4th move to just smash through your opponent's team, whereas HP Ground can trivialize matchups against Heatran, Psychic will make Volcarona claim its 1-2 kills against Rain structures (if Volcarona gets to set up Rain will have to revengekill with Scarf Keldeo or Scarf Latios, potentially enabling a Dragonite setup), Bug Gem Bug Buzz is a straight up nuke that gets rid of Tyranitar / Politoed and others before they can fire a hit, Lum Berry comes in clutch against teams that decide to tech with Thunder Wave. Overall just an extremely good Pokémon and one of the purest forms of mu fishing (set-wise) in this tier, it also does not provide any defensive utility to a team whatsoever so I'd consider banning it regardless of Sand / Rain's status in the metagame.

Volcarona and HO rose in popularity to deal with Sand, thus starting the ''rock paper scissors'' meta. Getting rid of Volcarona would mean Sand becoming once again the strongest most consistent playstyle, and for that reason you may want to take a look at Sand as well. Getting rid of Alakazam or Reuniclus could be an option, as in my opinion that ban would cause way less consequences / domino reactions than a Latios / Ferrothorn / Spikes ban, while still nerfing Sand reasonably. That said Latios / residual damage deserve to be looked at if people feel strongly negative about them.
Regarding Rain there have been various proposals floating around. I wouldn't go as far as nuking Rain completely by banning Drizzle, unless we make sure there aren't unwanted consequences with multiple suspect tours / ladders / whatever the best method would be. Banning Scald for me is almost equal to getting rid of Rain completely as you would gut one of its main tools, rendering staples like Tentacruel and Politoed itself way worse. I personally don't view Rain as such a strong playstyle to warrant a huge nerf, I would be fine going back to the metagame we had before the HO outbreak, albeit with Sand being slightly weakened. If people really deem Rain to be problematic then I suggest taking a look at rain abusers such as Keldeo and Thundurus-T, for the same reason I suggested looking at Alakazam and Reuniclus on Sand.

Also ban King's Rock for god's sake.
 
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Finchinator

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BW was handled poorly when it was the main generation due to misled tiering initiatives and outright neglect of tiering problems, so we have been playing clean-up for years since then. I feel bans of Arena Trap, Shadow Tag, and Sleep in particular highlight the success of old generation tiering here and I have personally enjoyed the metagame in recent months thanks to this. However, BW is by no means a "solved" or perfect metagame.

I do not think we should rush to act on this metagame because it is still evolving with every major tour, oftentimes reacting well to what may cause concern. With this said, it also feels like new concerns pop up. Be it Excadrill, Psychic types, Volcarona, Spikes, or strong Rain abusers, people have had valid grievances about each and every state of the BW metagame as it has evolved. In addition, BW has a naturally high degree of variance due to how much we frequent Scald, Focus Blast, Hydro Pump, etc. in a fairly proactive metagame. Because of this, I do think we should keep an open mind and I am glad the occasional BW thread pops up to generate critical discussion, even if it does not lead to a big departure from the norm.

Ultimately, I think a lot of this boils down to two schools of thought: the idea that we could ban one of the major players that are controversial (i.e: Latios) and potentially be ready to act on the repercussions this may have on the tier as well (i.e: Keldeo or Thundurus-Therian being problematic if we ban Latios and/or years of metagame realignment at a sluggish pace due to it being an old generation) or the idea that we accept the metagame for what it is -- centralized for sure, but clearly playable -- and focus mainly on extreme or uncompetitive issues (which we have been doing over the last two years).

It seems like a lot of people prefer the former idea and exploring the possible bans of Latios, Keldeo, and even Drizzle or Spikes. I understand these opinions and implore people who play the tier to share their thoughts. Personally I align more with the latter though. If this was a current generation, I would always go with the former because if something else popped up as an issue in response to one ban, we could simply address it with a swift suspect. However, old generations clearly move at a slower pace than the current generation and rely a lot on Classic/SPL (especially for non-STour generations), which oftentimes dictates how aggressively (or not) we tier them. Do not get me wrong: BW is not and will never be the perfect metagame, but I find it playable and enjoyable as is, even with its flaws and current volatility. Defacing BW is not something I view as beneficial as it may take years to settle and potentially require even more tiering action afterwards. This all comes with no guarantee that BW will be truly fixed and no guarantee that we will have enough resources to follow through.

Perhaps this is a bit of a conservative stance, but I have always viewed old generation tiering as more gradually improving the product we put out there through assuring competitiveness (i.e: recent bans on Arena Trap, Shadow Tag, and sleep) rather than entirely rebranding it to something novel. I was opposed to the Latias unban in DPP because of this, despite believing it was not broken, and it seemed the community felt differently, so maybe others feel differently and BW is worth exploring more. I also wish we never flirted with Excadrill years ago as it arguably set the wrong tone for OGC to begin with. If others feel differently, then I will not be a full-roadblock to the advancement the community desires, but I cannot say I support it at all right now.

The main tiering actions I would support are banning King's Rock, which I have already discussed at length elsewhere, and considering Volcarona, which I view as a mindless Pokemon that can handpick its own checks and counters. Even then, Volcarona I am more on-the-fence about than anything else -- it would lead to a good debate at the very least. Regardless, I do not agree with banning Latios, Drizzle, or anything else that defaces the metagame at this point in time.
 
Tiering BW is very hard. No other gen comes close to its power level (except maybe SM). The strong special moves have 120 BP instead of 110, HP has 70 BP, and Draco Meteor has 140 BP. There are no fairies and Defog. Rain makes Water move even deadlier, and Scald's 12.5% damage just adds to the mess.

What's scary is that you see a lot of different suggestions / points of views on the metagame, and they are all correct.

  • BKC and fakes are right: Latios is the biggest problem in BW, as it forces you to run Tyranitar just to have a chance at not dying to it. Latios opens up the field for the other psychics way too well. It's fast and immune to Spikes.
  • peng is right: passive damage is way too powerful. It forces you into Sand structures that minimize it as much as possible (Poison Heal, Natural Cure, Magic Guard. However, those structures are weak to very specific things (Volcarona, Ice types like Cloyster and Mamoswine).
  • Elodin is right: Excadrill's unbanning proved to be a disaster. It opened up old gen tiering, it didn't solve the Spikes issue at all, it exacerbated the teambuilding problem, and it got Sand Rush banned, deleting another viable playstyle (Hippowdon + Stoutland teams). What a mess.
  • Several people in this thread are right: Volcarona (the Matchup Moth) is incredibly broken. Revenge killing it is hard, because its best revenge killers are almost unviable (ScarfChomp), or barely revenge kill it (Scarf Latios and Alakazam deal with it, but they do at a huge cost).
Everyone else who mentioned Spikes or Scald, you are right too.

Anyone who has played this tier knows that whoever burns Tentacruel first in the Rain mirror wins the game. It's not even an exaggeration, just how things work. The same goes for scoring an early burn on Ferrothorn. It gives you such a massive upper hand in the mirror (for example, you can now freely sub on it with Thundurus-T), or it makes it easier to spin against it with Tentacruel / Excadrill.

Other stuff that plagues BW:

  • Thundurus-T: this mon is so powerful it can run a defensive spread and still have the highest Special Attack in the tier out of all the OU mons. It also has perfect coverage. So many people have Latios as their only answer and are forced to take a gamble by harding it on a Thunder and hoping for no paralysis. Tyranitar is good too, although it's not that reliable. Celebi gives away free Spikes to Ferrothorn, and with a layer of Spikes it has to be at 100% if it wants to not die to 2 HP Ices. Add Thunder paras and the chance of Thundurus being Nasty Plot, and it stops being an answer.
  • Keldeo: Hydro Pump in Rain kills just about anything. You need a Water immunity to deal with it, or accept it will kill 1 each time it gets in. Another huge strain on teambuilding that forces people to run Jellicent or Gastrodon on Sand. Celebi is ok too unless you get unlucky.
  • Reuniclus & Alakazam: Reuniclus outlasts every other Pokémon in BW. Except perhaps Gliscor. But at least you can kill Gliscor in 1 hit. Reuniclus just sits on the other side, and you know you must preserve your Tyranitar, except your Tyranitar also has to Pursuit Latios and maybe dodge a Focus Blast to not die to Alakazam. Preparing a gameplan vs Psychic stacking is so contrieved, and it's always an uphill battle. You can't use residual damage, you can't deal with it defensively (Reuniclus sets up on every single defensive mon), and dealing with it offensively is very hard (hitting Alakazam twice is very hard since it's so fast and strong).
BW is a fuck. How do we fix it? I wish I knew. Elodin's suggestions are interesting, but they still don't fix the Psychic spam teams. Banning Latios alone would turn the metagame on its head and probably require a string of bans afterwards. It's a path worth pursuing to fix the tier.

Posho's proposal is what intrigues me the most. Just wipe everything and start back from scratch. How many people would be ok with it? I don't know, I'd expect few. But it might be the only thing to salvage the meta. Keep Sleep banned though.

If that's not feasible, I'd just go back to the pre-Exca unban meta, look into Latios first and then see what happens.

Why not something less extreme?

There is no "less extreme" proposal that does anything. Banning Drizzle is extreme but it doesn't do anything about Spikes + Psychics. Banning Latios is extreme. Banning Volcarona is not extreme and doesn't fix much. I'm not sure how you'd fix the passive damage issue, perhaps by banning Spikes and Scald like peng suggested? It's an interesting approach to the problem.

Some people will say "stop changing old gens". That ship has sailed when we unbanned Excadrill. We got ourselves into this situation, now we must fix it.
 
I think from a game theory perspective Volcarona and Cloyster (king's rock) are actually some of the only ways to realistically exploit the oppressiveness of magic guard sand. Their existence is a detractor from bringing it almost every game. I understand the reasoning behind making small changes rather than massive ones in an older generation, but we are in a weird situation where banning those small things further strengthens the troublesome core issue. I am certainly not saying we shouldn't take a look at these issues (as well as other uncompetitive items, etc.) but doing it in isolation without trying to approach the elephant in the room is just feeding the elephant, and he is already way too big.

I don't mean to attack any players or discredit innovations, etc. but just because some new things were seen in SPL does not mean that the tier is evolving or that these issues will pass. Frankly, I think a lot of the innovations we have seen in BW recently (colbur Latios, bug gem Volcarona, various Reuniclus variations) are just reinforcing the tier's problem with MU fishing by making their archetypes stronger and increasing the degree to which games are lopsided on turn 1.

I think no matter how we want to slice it psychic spam + spikes needs to go. Teams consisting of 2-3 psychics (Latios, Reuniclus, Alakazam), Ferrothorn/Skarmory, and Landorus-T/Gliscor and another mon if there are 2 psychics (usually a water) are too strong and overcentralizing. I think this could be nerfed by either banning one or more psychics or spikes. Personally I lean towards Reuniclus - I don't really think Alakazam + Latios structures are necessarily as broken as Reuniclus + Alakazam (+Latios) structures are. At first glance banning spikes seems absolutely absurd (they are a core mechanic in almost every gen), but I think they are clearly at their most powerful in BW - this is the only generation that has Ferrothorn, team preview, and no defog. Ferrothorn is the best entry hazard setter the game has ever seen, and in BW countermeasures are limited and you can plan out your spike setting plan from preview. Obviously spikes are incredibly powerful in gens 3 and 4 as well, but I think the availability of Ferrothorn and knowing how good your spikes are/if your opponent can remove them from preview makes them even stronger in BW. By all means ban Volcarona and King's rock, but magic guard sand is just gonna get more obnoxious when you remove some of its biggest enemies.

While we are looking at King's rock I think we should take a look at Liepard cheese. Props to whoever came up with it but it seems pretty uncompetitive to me.
 
Hello there, everyone. I don’t often post in a wider variety of forums (most active in OI as a casual player), but I wanted to make an exception here, since even me, a filthy casual who’s too busy to consistently play on ladders like I want to, can tell that the current state of Gen 5 OU is without a doubt, a complete mess.

I guess the best place to start is to point out the obvious. This meta has continually been pushed in a direction that promotes specific play styles above others in exchange for even stronger things (Weather/speed boost for example) being banned. While I agree with that category of bans from Gen 5’s glory days, I can’t say I’m a fan of how the specific team styles are thriving as a result. I’m seeing a lot of recurring themes and names here, so if you all don’t mind, I’d like to present my list of changes that I believe would make BW2 OU more accessible and more fun at the same time. Keep in mind that this list has some things that justify other decisions in said list. You reserve the right to disagree with any of these proposals.

Step 1: The Individual Pokémon
Latios: Uber
Ferrothorn: Uber
Tyranitar: OU
Landorus-T: Suspect test
Excadrill: Uber
Politoed: OU
Tentacruel: OU
Alakazam: OU
Reuniclus: Suspect test
Volcarona: Suspect test
Thundurus-T: OU

(How did I forget Keldeo my first time through this list? Uber if Drizzle stays, OU if it’s banned.)

Step 2: The Abilities coming later so this post isn’t too long
 
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Briefly, do not fear the duration of time it may take to test things and settle a metagame thereafter. We *know* what the conservative approach yields, we've lived it for the past 8 years. The pokemon playerbase has never been more sophisticated that we are today, the degree of understanding we have over mechanics, over metagame trends, over understanding what actually makes something unhealthy or uncompetitive is night and day from where we were during the heyday of BW suspect testing when Reuniclus and Volcarona actually did get tested and voted to remain. The fear of the metagame becoming worse for longer due to the various forms of radical change are not unwarranted as per Finchinator, but we have every reason to believe that will not be the case and that we will be able to - with whatever changes are made - relatively quickly explore a new metagame and identify any problem threats that may arise, as we have been doing since we began exploring the return of Excadrill. This is the time to take the initiative to try something new and handle whatever consequences may be, we have the players, we have the knowledge, and we have the desire to see such change through. If not now, when?
 

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I think its important to consider anything in BW that could be considered as problematic before making any decision on if/how to progress.

Something that I have been thinking about today is whether Gems are a healthy presence in BW OU. Much like Ferro without Defog, and Scald with perma-weather that I previously discussed, Gems are unique to Gen5 and I think we should have a think about how they influence counterplay in BW OU. I would like to make it incredibly clear that I am not currently advocating for a Gem ban but think that discussing aspects such as this in the open can only be positive before any decisions are made. After all, Z-moves have been discussed at length for SM, yet we have an incredibly similar mechanic in BW that nobody bats an eyelid about. I think to completely dismiss the influence of Gems is a mistake.

The reason I am drawn to Gems is that they have seen a recent uptick in usage that has coincided with community dissatisfaction with BW, but nobody is really making a connection between the two. I would like to draw particular attention to the following 2 Pokemon which have already been touted as potential suspects and are major Gem abusers:
  • :volcarona:Volcarona @ Bug Gem / Psychic Gem - The most common Volcarona set uses Bug Gem in order to break past SDef Tyranitar and Politoed after Stealth Rock alone. This commonly introduces coin-flip situations into Smurf match-ups, where a Sand player will attempt to burn the Gem by pivoting through Gliscor. Having to do this against a Pokemon that can boost 3 stats in a single turn on a punish is clearly not reliable counterplay. Although more niche, Volcarona can also utilise Psychic Gem to break common Bug resists, especially in Rain, such as Tentacruel, Thundurus-T, and Dragonite.
  • :latios:Latios @ Dragon Gem - The Tyranitar breaker. Calm Mind Dragon Gem Latios is a relatively common sight on 2-Psy teams to open the door for Alakazam. Unlike Volcarona, Gem is not a given on Latios, and on 3-Psy teams and more balanced styles, you'll see it opting for Colbur or Choice Scarf instead.
It could strongly be argued that Gems are part of what push these Pokemon over the edge, especially in the case of Volcarona. Gem-less Volcarona packs far less immediate power, making blanket specially defensive Pokemon more reliable answers.

In addition to these two Pokemon, there are other Gem users in the tier that are less oppressive, but I still think it could be argued that these items introduce unhealthy fishing when it comes to counterplay:
  • :dragonite:Dragonite @ Dragon Gem - Relatively self-explanatory. Allows Dragonite to slice through Landorus-T, Slowbro, and Reuniclus like butter after a single DD. The problem? Dragonite can very easily and interchangeably run Yache and Lum berries, and guessing incorrectly is incredibly punishing.
  • :garchomp:Garchomp @ Dragon Gem - Same as above. Dragon Gem gives SD Garchomp a 1-off nuke into the same physically defensive Pokemon to open holes for partners. Very very difficult to play around, especially as Dragon Gem is easily interchangeable with Yache and Focus Sash.
  • :breloom:Breloom @ Fighting Gem / Grass Gem - A Smurf partner alongside Volcarona and Dragonite. SD Breloom is a common option and we have seen Fighting Gem incredibly often for its ability to shred the likes of Skarmory or boost a Mach Punch into a would-be revenge killer. This would be fine, if Grass Gem wasn't also an emerging excellent option on Breloom, which instead aims to target a distinct set of Pokemon.
The key point with these 3 Pokemon is that they run identical movesets and are played incredibly similarly regardless of item, but an incorrect item guess can hand the game to your opponent. For example, there are two major variants of Smurf (:garchomp::dragonite::volcarona::breloom::starmie::scizor:: and :terrakion::dragonite::volcarona::breloom::starmie::jirachi:) and both Breloom gems work on both versions and they are played identically. Of course, I am all for variation in item choice but when these items fundamentally change counterplay whilst being basically unscoutable (no difference in moveset, no different in EV spread, no difference in ability, can't be scouted with Protect) I begin to question how healthy these items are.

It would be remiss of me to ignore Gem users that I do not think necessarily break BW to the same extent. Two come to mind:
  • :terrakion:Terrakion @ Rock Gem - As soon as Terrakion clicks Swords Dance, you have a very good idea of what the item is. The only other reasonable variations we see are Air Balloon or the occasional Life Orb, of which the former is revealed on switch-in and the latter shares the same counterplay as Rock Gem anyway. The ability of +2 Gem Stone Edge to OHKO even the sturdiest of physical walls is a little bit silly, but Gem is largely predictable, meaning Terrakion is not on the same level as Dragonite/Garchomp/Breloom. Further, we could point to CM Latios as an example of how OHKOing a robust counter is insane even if the Gem is predictable - however, I generally believe that removal of Landorus-T and Gliscor is a bit more difficult to capitalise on than the removal of Tyranitar, hence I don't view Rock Gem Terrakion on the same level.
  • :landorus-therian:Landorus-T @ Fighting Gem - similar to Terrakion but a little bit less predictable. Lando-T can utilise an SD + Superpower set @ Fighting Gem to cleave Skarmory, Ferrothorn, and Rotom-W. We sometimes see this paired with something like Scarf Garchomp to abuse their removal. Landorus-T can be an unpredictable Pokemon but ultimately, as soon as it uses Swords Dance, your mind is drawn to Fighting Gem. Also, just like with Terrakion removing Grounds, I don't think that Lando-T's ability to remove Skarmory is game-breaking in the same way that Latios could be, considering the presence of Magnet Pull in our metagame anyway. Landorus-T can run Smack Down or Gravity sets to achieve a similar effect regardless.
Again I am not saying that Gems are broken or should be the #1 thing we look at but if there are concerns about making wholesale changes to BW, then we could look at the influence of Gems as what pushes Volcarona/Latios over the edge, and introduces fishing strategies on other common offensive Pokemon. Removing them does not significantly alter the identity of BW but takes away the uncounterable and unpredictable nature of a couple of the top threats.
 
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Here’s the second part of my list of hypothetical changes. This is the part that will determine my ideas for many of the Pokémon in my last post. Without further ado, let’s get right into it. Also, a quick addition to the last post, I forgot to mention a Tornadus-T retest, which I am actually in support of.

Step 2: The Abilities
Magic Guard: Uber
Sand Stream: Suspect test
Drizzle: Uber
Weather + Speed Boost Clause: Uber
Chlorophyll: OU (it already is technically)
Sand Rush: OU (Keep banned on Excadrill if it stays OU)
Regenerator: OU complex ban (limit number of Regen mons per team maybe?)

The biggest change I’d like to talk about is the idea is banning Magic Guard as opposed to Alakazam and/or Reuniclus. Before Gen 5 the ability was only on Clefable, who wasn’t bad in DPP OU by any means but still had its flaws that were later fixed in XY. Gen 5 Magic Guard on the other hand is opened up on Pokémon who can unfairly take advantage of it but be very much balanced otherwise. These multi-Psychic sand teams I keep hearing complaints about would take a huge hit with this change, and while Reuniclus in particular could still have a sand immunity with Overcoat, it could now be affected by entry hazards and status damage resulting in an overall nerf regardless. Plus, it wouldn’t be able to run Regenerator with a different ability active.
 
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Despite the volatile state of the tier, I strongly believe BW is still very enjoyable both playing and teambuilding wise. However, if people want to make some changes, I have an idea.

From what I have seen on forums and in the BW community Discord, the biggest issues in the tier according to some of the player base are the following (in no particular order):

  • Latios
  • Magic Guard
  • Volcarona
  • Rain
  • Sand
  • Ferrothorn
  • Spikes
  • Keldeo

Having that being said, my idea moving forward is to ban Spikes + Volcarona (and perhaps Excadrill) in BW OU.

Why Spikes?

Some players consider Ferrothorn’s influence in the tier a negative one, and a lot of that is the result of its reliability to set up Spikes. Although they proposed to ban it entirely, I do not think that it would solve anything, people would just start using Skarmory. So to go around the problem, just ban what is really the issue, Spikes. One of the most effective applications of Spikes in the tier is through the use of Magic Guard users and Latios (primarily on Triple Psychic Sand). Its ability to outlast its checks and/or counters (bulky steels, Tyranitar, etc.) as a result of free passive damage makes it very challenging to beat consistently. Spikes being gone would open up more forms of consistent counterplay such as Jirachi, Scizor, and even Metagross.

Why Volcarona?

Various players have commented on how Volcarona only makes the tier much more matchup dependent, in which I agree with. While there are reliable checks (i.e., scarf Garchomp, Dragonite) as well as it needing the correct three moves to outright win. Its inherent presence makes it way too risky to use certain archetypes or mons (such as different steel types, grass types, etc). Banning Volcarona will reduce the dynamic of “lost on preview” and make the tier more dependent on gameplay.

Why (maybe) Excadrill?

The main reason for Excadrill being freed was to help combat the combination of Spikes + Reuniclus. If Spikes were to be banned, Excadrill going with it should strongly be considered. The predicted influx of grounded steels and the freedom to use a move over Rapid Spin will potentially push it over the edge. Excadrill being gone also enables discussion of freeing Sand Rush, an ability that was forced to be banned due to it being legal in the tier.

TL:DR Get rid of Spikes + Volcarona and everyone will be happy.

Also huge shoutouts to susciety for helping me with the post <3
 
I am really of the opinion Excadrill never should have been unbanned in the first place. While banning Drizzle does seem like a decent option, I don't think it fixes anywhere near all of the problems in the metagame and honestly removes one of the components of Gen 5 that makes it unique. The latter alone is not reason enough to keep it, but I do think such a huge metagame shift could have major long-term consequences. Losing Excadrill could open up Sand Rush users (Stoutland), giving sand teams a better matchup against weatherless HO teams that rip them apart currently while alternatively potentially giving rain teams another potential option as a countermeasure against sand teams.

I doubt the idea will gain traction but I also really wish Chlorophyll would be given another shake. We have lost both Venusaur's Sleep Powder in addition to all of the trappers (those that can trap weather setters) and I think the matchup reliance of the playstyle could be further ameliorate by banning Volcarona. I think other absurdities like Ferrothorn, Latios, and possibly Keldeo could be problematic moving forward. Losing Ferrothorn in particular could shift the metagame away from suffocating rapid spin attempts. It's a rather oppressive force in the metagame in both of the tournament relevant weather archetypes and adds to the matchup reliance imo by preventing the archetype less favored from making any real progress without getting worn down quickly.
 
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