CAP 30 - Part 2 - Primary Ability Discussion

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CAP 30 So Far


Please pay very close attention to Tadasuke's posts during this thread and remain on topic. DO NOT begin by posting massive lists of abilities!

Some general rules for this discussion:
  • Custom abilities are banned. No exceptions. Posts suggesting custom abilities will be deleted.
  • There are ability banlists for the different stages of ability discussion. Posts suggesting banned abilities will be deleted.
  • Flavor abilities do not have any place in this thread. Do not bring up flavor reasoning. Posts that rely on flavor reasoning will be deleted.
The following abilities are banned from this discussion:

Arena Trap
As One
Aura Break
Bad Dreams
Battle Bond
Chilling Neigh
Dark Aura
Dauntless Shield
Delta Stream
Desolate Land
Dragon's Maw
Fairy Aura
Flower Gift
Full Metal Body
Grim Neigh
Gulp Missile
Hunger Switch
Ice Face
Intrepid Sword
Power Construct
Primordial Sea
Prism Armor
RKS System
Shadow Shield
Shadow Tag
Shields Down
Soul Heart
Stance Change
Unseen Fist
Victory Star
Wonder Guard
Zen Mode
These abilities are banned by default and should not be discussed barring exceptional cases. If you believe one of these abilities should be considered, you can make a post trying to explain why an exception is warranted in this specific case and if both the TL and Ability Leader agree, it will be allowed. If the TLT disagrees with the unbanning proposal, they should be considered fully banned and should not be further discussed.

Color Change*
Dry Skin
Flash Fire
Fur Coat
Gorilla Tactics
Huge Power
Ice Scales
Lightning Rod
Magic Guard
Motor Drive
Parental Bond
Pure Power
Sap Sipper
Slow Start
Storm Drain
Volt Absorb
Water Absorb
Water Bubble

*These abilities can only be considered for an unban if the Ability stage is done before typing.


Fully Banned Abilities group + Soft Banned Abilities group + flavor ability-only group


Ability banlist PRC threads:
We recently finished up the Concept Assessment stage for CAP 30 with the following conclusions:
  • We want the ability to be a leading element of CAP 30’s functionality while avoiding optimization that removes healthy counterplay.
  • Each form will explore a different ability.
  • The project will follow the order: Primary Ability 1 > Assign Ability to Form and Define Role > Typing > Primary Ability 2
I'm now going to turn over the discussion to our esteemed and universally lauded CAP Ability SL, Tadasuke.
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Hey there everyone! Thank you Tadasuke for that wonderful introduction. Now that Concept Assessment has finished up, it's time to move on to our Primary Ability Discussion.

I was overjoyed to see that we've got an ability first concept twice in a row, which leaves us with a lot of room to work with in this discussion. As was noted in the Concept Assessment, we'll be picking an ability in this thread which will be retroactively assigned to one of our two forms. We will then have the requisite knowledge to assign roles to our forms and subsequently move on to discussion for our second form's ability. Similar to CAP 29's Ability Discussion, I want to have a heavy emphasis on the fact that our choices here will determine a huge chunk of how the rest of the process will flow. With this in mind, I'd like to establish some basic ground rules for the discussion we have in this thread.

The three aspects of an ability that I'd like to prioritize most are design space, efficacy, and innovation. Design space is incredibly important since the decisions we make here have the potential to constrict the scope of the remainder of the process. While one ability may seem extremely effective in its application and unexplored in its use, if it can only be effective by following one or two narrow routes I'd like to avoid slating it. Similarly, if an ability hasn't seen much use and isn't necessarily restrictive to any of the later stages in the process, it'll still have to be impactful and effective in a Gen 8 OU metagame for it to have a chance to make the slate. Finally, for abilities that have a lot of design space and are guaranteed to be effective, if they've already seen success on other OU mons, I'd rather explore something new instead.

With all that out of the way, I'd like to open with a few questions:
  • Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
  • Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?
  • Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
  • Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
I'm planning on leaving this discussion open for approximately 48 hours, then I'll be back with more discussion questions.


As far as I know, I'm immortal
is a Pre-Contributor
Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
I won't go through every ability in any of these questions, but I'll highlight one for each question that I think answers the question well. For unoptimized abilities with good design space, I'd like to mention Oblivious as an interesting option. The main attraction of it is immunity to Taunt, which has a number of defensive and offensive applications. An ability that would be restrictive on future stages would be Hustle. Besides the fact that it all but locks us into being a physical attacker, the ability also heavily impacts move selection, and would put a crunch on the stat stage.

Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?
An ability that fits the bill here would be Tinted Lens. Tinted Lens is a fairly powerful ability in its own right (being able to break through resists can be pretty terrifying). It would definitely perform best on a more offensively-leaning mon, but its such a powerhouse I suspect we would have quite a few options at our disposal for each stage. Other abilities that are similar in execution that I'm sure would prove to be effective are Download and Adaptability.

Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
Water Compaction is an interesting option here, in my opinion. The only mon that gets it is weak to Water, which is pretty much the opposite of optimization. Typing (and stats) would play a big role in creating a viable mon with this ability.

Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
I think an excellent example here would be Solid Rock/Filter. The mons that get those abilities hardly took full advantage of them, (the best example I can come up with is Mega Aggron/Rhyperior eating Earthquakes). There's a great deal of variability in the roles a Filter mon can play (it's not just limited to tank!) I can also very easily see that Filter would be a great ability on the right mons in the current metagame (imagine Filter Jumbao sheeeeesh). I think the ability has a lot of room to explore its potential and would make for a more free-form process.
I'm what you'll call a 'casual competitive', so forgive me if my thoughts seem odd. After looking through the banlist, the so-called legal unoptimised abilities that come to mind are:
  • Merciless - crits poisoned/badly poisoned foes. Its only holder, Toxapex, is based to be a Physical Stall. Regenerator is run over this as another form of recovery, as well as Scald, which invalidates Merciless's conditions. I recall during the assessment that someone gave an example of a Merciless Gengar, which is the best example I suppose of optimizing this ability.
  • Tinted Lens: Powers up not-so-effective attacks. It seems great on paper until you look at the Pokemon who have it. All of the current legal holders have a BST of less than 500 and the highest ranked one, Sigilyph, runs the vastly superior Magic Guard. This one I feel gives us the best freedom for role selection, and the only stage it might affect will be the movepool poll.
  • Rattled: Boosts speed by one stage if Intimidated and/or hit with a Bug/Dark/Ghost Type attack. The three members who hold this ability are Dunsparce, who runs Serene Grace for hax spam, Persian-A who runs Fur Coat to patch up its Defense and is already fast enough, and Sudowoodo, which runs its primary abilities Rock Head to use recoil-less Head Smash and Wood Hammer, which are its strongest STAB and coverage against its only weaknesses, or Sturdy for Weakness Policy Rock Polish mayhem. Only way this'll get optimized is if CAP 30i is slow and is designed to lure in Knock Off or U-Turners before counterattacking.
Edit: I think Adaptability and Download have the potential to be broken. I mean, just look at Porygon Z for comparison.
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Some of the most busted unused abilities:

Stamina- free boosts every time you get hit is insanely strong. known to be great already.
Merciless- i think everyone knows this ability has good potential also. But also imo one of the milder options on this list.
Cursed Body- this abil has dodged every good mon in existence. but on a mon with reliable recovery, this can be absolutely busted and always gives you a chance to clinch any endgame on luck.
Cotton Down- the anti-offense tool. should realistically crush HO as its a free offensive sweep ender while probably succeeding in other fields too. Ruins any mon that needs to go all-in with boosting, like hawlucha or cawmodore.
Simple- boosts giant amounts quickly. would definitely be hard to land perfectly, as its so all-or-nothing in execution.
Contrary- ramps up into unbearable very quickly. theres going to be a constant struggle between making the most of it and toning it down.
Magic Bounce- goes without saying, this is strong and easily abused by certain walls. We've seen it be excellent in the past, but we dont have a current user.
Poison Heal- status immune, free healing, totally bonkers on the right sweepers or tanky threats. Literally one of the highest impact abilities in the entire game and top pick in ability-choosing metas before it gets banned.
Stakeout- potentially completely unwallable damage spike that puts the opp in a lose-lose.
Tinted Lens- same as stakeout- can become something completely unwallable.
Innards Out- this ability is completely broken when abused to the fullest. Grants a free KO on a mon that you can catch on the likes of a u-turn, effectively the most op and high-tempo form of removal available.
Download- Intrepid Sword, but that caters to the mon that you switch in on. I think Genesect has proven this one to be monstrous with the correct movepool and stats, despite not even having a great offensive typing.
Adaptability- Hit hard. In a similar lane to Download
Corrosion- this move has a ridiculous ceiling. and a pretty bonkers floor to begin with. Mild optimization would make this broken.
Slush Rush, Chlorophyll, Surge Surfer etc- These speed doubling abilities are all on trash but theyre all insanely strong on a custom mon designed to convert that 2x speed into a sweep- and all these abilities also allow boosted attacks to abuse.
Refrigerate, Aerialiate, etc- These moves convert some already busted moves into something incomparably good. These are top picks in ability-choosing OMs for a good reason, the wallbreaking and sweeping potential is near unrivalled.
Defiant/Competitive- Optimized, they have the ability to suffocate the oppoennt's team and control hazards with brutal efficacy. We've seen a little bit of this in the past with Bisharp which is fairly flawed otherwise, and Defog is still the #1 removal option so I believe they still have that same high potential.

Im not rly breaking them down into specific interactions yet, but these would all have an easy time finding success in the CAP metagame because theyre insanely strong. Out of these, there are a few I'd move away from, like Innards Out, Stakeout, Tinted Lens, Simple, Contrary and Corrosion. This is because theyve already proven themselves to not have much counterplay in OMs where they're utilized. Corrosion is on a different level, being more of a major threat in the slow meta of OU than in fast paced OMs. But I still think its too powerful to really optimize here.

Long story short, I think theres a lot we can pull from AAA and OMs in this first stage to pick an ability thats going to be great, as well as be wary of ones that will become a battle between optimising and toning down due to being way too strong in a vacuum for us to give them many tools (we can learn from Smokomodo and Snaelstrom here too). Im not denying that we can make a Tinted Lens mon for example, but it wont be leaning into it much at all.
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I'm going to answer these two parts of the first question in reverse order. I'm going to define what I see as several categories of abilities here.

Which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
I don't think we should go anywhere near any of the berry-related abilities. Fun as they may be, the sad truth is that they simply aren't viable. We have flat evidence of this in the form of a recent, now-deceased OM called Max Berries. The mechanic of this meta was to maximize the effects of every berry--Oran and Sitrus completely restored your health, Liechi and Salac gave you +6 attack/speed, that sort of thing. Many thought this would be the time for berry-enhancing/recoving abilities to finally shine. But even with these huge buffs, berry-abusing strategies were still completely unviable. You only get one shot at these methods, they hard to proc, can be seen coming from a mile away, and are easily foiled by Knock Off, Haze, phazing, Taunt, and simple prediction. People ended up just running straight OU teams, and the OM was retired at the end of its month-long run. We similarly have no chance of optimizing berry-based abilities.

To a much lesser extent, it will also be somewhat challenging to utilize status-dependent abilities (e.g. Quick Feet, Flare Boost) and field-dependent abilities (e.g. Grass Pelt, Mimicry, Slush Rush) due to the detrimental qualities of the status and item-dependence of the former, and required team support and the limited duration of field conditions for the latter. Unlike berry abilities, these certainly could still be attempted and might make for interesting processes, but will be much more restrictive than other ability options.

Finally, extremely niche abilities and certain situational abilities that require very specific, rare, or hax-based methods to activate will also be harder to build a mon around. Here I am drawing a distinction between two groups of abilities that is somewhat fluid, and some may argue that they are interchangeable, but I am defining niche abilities as those that have an effect that is theoretically reliable and consistent, but in practice is inconsequential due to the rarity or non-existence of the strategy it is meant to counter (e.g. Keen Eye, Big Pecks, Screen Cleaner, Own Tempo, Suction Cups, Inner Focus). Most of these are hard to optimize simply because there isn't much of a need for them in the metagame. Meanwhile, I am defining situational abilities as those that provide a benefit when a certain condition is activated. These come in different flavors, such as boosts activated by being hit by the right move or effect (Steam Engine, Competitive, Anger Point), immunity to certain moves or effects (Battle Armor, Shield Dust, Magma Armor, Aroma Veil), and pain reduction for certain situations (Early Bird, Shed Skin). I think many of these have the potential to be extremely interesting and could absolutely make for a great project, but for situational abilities that tend to be activated most commonly by RNG (e.g. crits, stat drops from Moonblast, freeze from Ice Beam), we're going to have to do an awful lot of contorting to make something viable.

Summary: Avoid berry abilities, niche abilities, and RNG-based situational abilities. Be more wary of status-dependent and field-dependent abilities.

Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept?

The other situational abilities that are not overly dependent on RNG should absolutely be considered, as they give us an opportunity to make a mon with a really distinct niche or strength that gives us a leg up on the competition. Generally I think the move-triggered and pain-reduction abilities tend to have more design space than those that provide situational immunity, although there are exceptions (e.g. Flower Veil).

Opponent-punishing abilities are another group that I suppose you could classify as a class of situational abilities, that have more of a team-support twist. These abilities (e.g. Cotton Down, Poison Point, Cursed Body, Aftermath) often have an effect that persists after you switch out, so we have room to explore these abilities from either the perspective of benefitting the team or on how the user can abuse these detriments itself.

I also think move-dependent abilities (e.g. Poison Touch, Iron Fist, Sniper, Rock Head, Compound Eyes) have a lot of potential here, as we are in full control of when the ability's effect is active, so long as we give it the appropriate movepool, which we also have control of, though making decisions on the assumption that we'll get certain moves is a danger. Abilities that provide a simple damage or accuracy increase may be a bit less interesting than other options where we get to explore a mechanism or strategy, but they are reliable and easy to design. In my opinion these would be better to leave as a safe fallback for the second form's ability, and that for the first form we should go with something a little more daring.

Finally, there are a few really unusual abilities, some of which could be classified in the other categories, but stand apart for their bizarre and specific mechanics. These include Mummy, Dancer, and Perish Body. Optimizing abilities such as these will certainly be challenging, to the point where perhaps I should have listed them as among the more restrictive choices, but are so interesting that I think we should still at least consider them.


formerly OofTheQuagsire
  • Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
The one that I'd call my personal favorite is Rattled. This ability was mentioned in short detail in an above post, and I think there are a few different ways to approach this ability on both forms. I'm not going to say a whole lot more in that regard right now, maybe in a later post. I'm also going to bring up the -ate abilities here. With the exception of Pixilate on Sylveon these abilities haven't really been optimized very well. One would have to be careful with the likes of Refrigerate and Galvanize, though, as Electric and Ice coverage is really good.

On the other side of things, two abilities that I think would be too restrictive on future stages are Triage and Flower Veil. Flower Veil's problem is quite simple- it locks you into a typing in the future. You can play around that to an extent in the typing stage, but it's not a good look to be deciding half the typing of the mon in the Ability stage. The main problem with Triage is that if the ability is to be optimized, then it locks you into a few different options for STAB moves by virtue. Grass, Fighting, Fairy, and Bug is about it.

I'm also going to take this post to request a legality check on Flower Veil because as cool as it is locking us into at least one type kinda blows.

  • Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
Rattled and the -ate abilities come to mind. Stuff like Tinted Lens and a myriad of "boosting" abilities (such as Tough Claws and Strong Jaw) also could be great if given to the right 'mons. Flower Veil, while restrictive as I mentioned before, is only on one Pokemon, which isn't a Grass-type, so that is definitely very underexplored.

There are a lot of good ideas in this thread so I'm gonna come back in a day or so to give my feedback on them. Cheers!
Alright, so I’m gonna be doing something that actually hasn’t been done since its implementation and propose the unbanning of a soft-banned ability. Specifically, I would like to propose that Water Bubble be unbanned for the purposes of this discussion. To explain why, I shall go through the various effects of the ability, its signature user, and the potential routes we could take with the ability.

Water Bubble, as an ability, has three effects.
1. The power of Water-type moves are doubled.
2. The damage dealt by Fire-type moves against the user is halved.
3. The user is immune to burns.

Now, I’m sure the first concern one may have is that typing discussion would be immediately locked into a Water-type, but I would very much like to disagree. There is so much flexibility that the typing discussion can bring outside of Water-type Pokémon with STAB nukes. There are many types with physical moves that would appreciate not being able to be burned. Even more importantly, any type that doesn’t already resist Fire would immediately become resistant to Fire, which poses a very interesting situation for type discussion. As such, there are many ways to go about determining typing aside from “Water nukes go brrrr”.

As for the concept itself, optimization, let’s look at everyone’s favorite Alolan bug, Araquanid. Araquanid is a Pokémon that, despite having an ability like Water Bubble, resides in the depths of NU. This is largely due to having a rather meh defensive typing in Water/Bug, which despite resisting Fire thanks to Water Bubble, is weak to Flying, Electric, and most notably Rock. This forces it to wear Heavy-Duty Boots, which is something that when combined with its lack of recovery and poor physical bulk, makes it struggle as a defensive Pokémon. Offensively, it has basically non-existent coverage, and while perhaps for the better in terms of balancing the ability, base 70 Attack doesn’t get much done outside of Araquanid’s Water moves. In NU, it finds itself running Sticky Web and Magic Coat, which should tell you something about Araquanid as a Pokemon. Overall, Araquanid makes it very clear there is room to optimize Water Bubble.

In terms of potential routes to take Water Bubble, the ability can easily serve well both on offensive and defensive Pokémon alike. Offensively, even if we are not a Water-type ourselves, Water Bubble provides a third STAB that actually gets a bigger boost than your actual ones, which gives any offensive Pokémon a very unique set of options for dealing with foes. The immunity to burn provided by the ability also opens the door for physical attackers to not have to worry about the status which tends to cripple them most, which itself is a very interesting niche which few Pokémon share. Immunity to burns also has a slight defensive advantage, as that’s one less status for your Pokémon to be chipped to death by, potentially opening the door up for a status absorbing Pokémon. However, the biggest advantage for Water Bubble defensively is the automatic resistance to Fire-type moves. That alone can set a Pokémon of any type combination apart from its peers defensively, especially if it is not already resistant to Fire to begin with.

Overall, Water Bubble is currently exclusive to a barely viable Pokémon, is not constrained in typing discussion as much as you would believe, and has both offensive and defensive capabilities that could easily be explored. As such, I would like to see Water Bubble unbanned for the purposes of this ability discussion.
The four abilities that stand out to me are Compound Eyes, Steely Spirit, Thick Fat, and Liquid Voice.

Compound Eyes is a great ability but is forced to be bound to weak bug types. Butterfree and Galvantula can make use of Compound Eyes/STAB Thunder and Hurricane, but neither are great because of it. Compound eyes is a great ability that only needs to be paired with better stats to be of great use.

Steely Spirit (or Steel Worker) is a super powerful ability that is stuck to Perrserker. This Pokémon, when it does see use, will usually use Tough Claws instead. To show how great this ability is, lets look at Scizor, a steel type that used technician to boost bullet punch. If Scizor had steely spirit (and perhaps a better secondary STAB) it could use powerful Bullet Punch and Iron Head.

Thick Fat is a great ability that rarely is super beneficial. We have seen glimpses of this abilities true power with Mega Venasuar and Appleton. Both are bulky grass types that use Thick Fat to remove two weaknesses of the grass type. I also utterly fear the idea of a steel/dragon type with this ability.

Liquid Voice might be a weird choice but hear me out. A water type with this ability and Boomburst would be scary. Noivern was banned from AAA because of how great it was with Aerilate and Boomburst. Liquid Voice doesn’t boost the power of the move in question, so it’s much less oppressive and simply just brings out the true power of the ability. Even without Boomburst, seeing this signature ability be useful would be nice to see.
Long post incoming!

Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
I think speed control is a really good pathway we could take here. SWSH has completely upended our definition of “high speed” with the introduction of mons like Pult and Eleki (lol). Zera skyrocketing in usage also illustrates this. Speed control has been crucial this gen, and I think Cotton Down is a hugely compelling ability to create passive speed control. The reason I list this as having a variety methods we can take is because from my understanding—feel free to call me out if I’m entirely wrong here—speed control doesn’t necessarily need to be entirely offensive to still function well. Speed control functions best on offensive mons, yes, but utility and perhaps even defensive mons can still benefit from being able to pace the fastmons. And Cotton Down is insane for this. The thing about it is that it doesn’t just proc on contact hits, it procs on any hit. Slowing the opponent down every time they attack you is genuinely a bonkers ability, and is something we could capitalize on for a variety of different roles or archetypes.

Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?
Gonna briefly mention Cotton Down again here for the same reasons: speed control in a meta where fast breakers are highly viable or even dominant (Pult).
Now into other abilities with meta-potential. 30i’s capacity for weathering any Knock Offs lends itself to abilities such as Justified and Rattled. In a meta where Knock Off is one of the most commonly clicked moves (and where practically nothing is lost from clicking it in most situations), the ability to capitalize on this is ridden with incredible potential. Free boosts on switch-ins to a predicted Knock make sweeping or fast utility presence that much more threatening.
There’s also a whole other element to Rattled as well, since Bug and Ghost moves also proc it. This would allow the mon to punish U-Turns or, depending on stats and typing, be a reliable switchin to Pult Shadow Ball and other offensive ghosts. Rattled has lots of potential for punishing opponents for clicking moves that have very little drawback in the meta as-is, which lends itself to a strong potential niche and an interesting process.

Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
Steam Engine and Water Compaction come to mind here, as the only mons that have these abilities simply don’t have adequate typing to capitalize on them. In the case of Coalossal, its intense 4x weakness to Water simply omits most incentive to even attempt to proc Steam Engine. Those who are brave enough to proc Steam Engine on a Water move end up investing heavily in defenses at the cost of offenses, meaning that Coalossal ends up not having enough offensive presence to take advantage of the maximum speed. That being said, Steam Engine also procs on fire-type moves, which is a fact of the ability that is overshadowed in discussion.

Water Compaction is a very interesting option, as it could find success on either an offensive or defensive mon. The problem is that Palossand simply lacks both the typing and offensive/defensive presence to take advantage of it. If we were to create a mon that can capitalize on +2 Def, we would have to focus on a water resistance during the typing stage, which is a little more constraining but still doable.

Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
I want to echo dex in saying that abilities that enhance overall defensive presence such as Solid Rock/Filter do kinda fit all three. Rhyperior is pretty much the only (sorta) viable mon that runs Solid Rock, but it’s offset by its glaring 4x weaknesses to Grass and Water, which hampers Rhyperior’s ability to take advantage of Solid Rock. Filter, on the other hand, was actually used very well by Mega Aggron, but it got snapped in the Great Dexit Purge, leaving the ability to be inherited by Mr. Mime (lol). Both abilities automatically enhance a mon’s staying power and its ability to weather hits, but as we’ve seen in the case of Rhyperior, typing is just as important as stats when it comes to actually utilizing these abilities optimally.

I also want to echo Ayecrusher King and throw in some further support for Tinted Lens. The ability to throw out attacks without full resistance is an incredible boon to any offensive mon, and could provide some interesting pathways depending on what our typing, stats, and movepool stages look like. The only mons that run Tinted Lens are Butterfree and Noctowl (ZU says hi), and Sigilyph, which would rather just run Magic Guard.

Rattled, once again, provides a couple of prominent pathways that are not just restricted to an offensive mon, but that take advantage of 30i’s Knock-Off-proofness. Given that Rattled also has strong potential for punishing stray U-Turns and ghost moves, there’s lots of variety for what we could do with it.

Finally, I want to bring up Cotton Down again (yes, I’m very partial to this ability). The only mon that actually has access to this ability is Eldegoss, which is nowhere near viable in OU, CAP or otherwise. Even down in the lower tiers, where Eldegoss actually has a niche, it always prefers to run Regenerator over Cotton Down. The ability is entirely unexplored and, quite frankly, pretty nuts in its potential. I don’t think I need to stress anymore how important speed control is in this meta, and the ability to shut down the opponent’s speed even more with each turn is just so huge. I think this ability would lend itself best to an offensive or utility mon, but really, it could be useful for anything.
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1) Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?

There is a good middle ground in which I feel the most diverse abilities lie, and its between abilities that are too strong and abilities that are too limited.

The strong ability side is the more obvious of the two. If the ability pulls too much of the weight, the rest of the process may buckle trying to keep it balanced. One such example of this is Flower Veil, which if placed on a grass type grants it immunity to status and stat drops, which is a huge boon and could easily create a dangerous pokemon if not kept properly balanced. Other examples include abilities like Tinted Lens, Corrosion, Triage and Stakeout, all of which are similar to Flower Veil through the ability to invalidate important aspects of the game in general.

On the flip side, if the abilities effect is too meager, it causes issues in the opposite direction by limiting later discussions to trying to find the optimal resources to bolster its power. Rattled has been discussed quite a bit on the discord server and while I can see the use in it, its effect of only raising speed by one stage while still taking damage from the moves that activate means that it needs quite a bit of optimization in order to allow it to be seen as the main benefit to using the pokemon. Other examples include Anger Point and Quick Feet, Which share Rattled's trait of trading a negative effect for a very meh effect (or in the case of Anger Point, a very luck based one).

2) Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?

I feel the best abilities for proving themselves effective are the ones that can activate regularly or are always active and have strong, though not overpowering, effects.
-Cotton Down is another well discussed ability that has the power to quickly change how well a team can deal with offensive threats.
-Stamina is similar to Cotton Down in that it positively affects pokemon for getting hit by attacks, but where Cotton Down pressures offense Stamina can shield against physical offense while also allowing for deadly setup potential.
-Steam Engine has the ability to put major pressure on an opponents use of Scald, Fire Lash and other fire and water type moves, with its massive +6 speed boost only being eclipsed by Anger Points guaranteed max attack.
-Perish Body is a scarily powerful pressure option that becomes even more fearsome in the presence of 30i, where a defense against Knock Off allows this ability to effectively place pressure on defensive pokemon carrying the move.
-Ice Scales, though somewhat simple, provides an amazing defensive boost that could assist offensive and defensive pokemon alike.
-Fur Coat is similar to Ice Scales, just with defense instead of special Defense.
-Water Bubble is an incredible ability that mixes boosted water damage with the effects of both Water Veil and Heatproof, making it a very scary ability for physically offensive pokemon.

This is just a handful of abilities that could work effectively when given the right assets to utilize.

3) Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?

-Dazzling/Queenly Majesty-
These two abilities are held back by their users, with Tsareena being too defensively oriented to use the ability to it's full potential and Bruxish being a mediocre pokemon with better offensive options such as Strong Jaw. A faster offensive pokemon could take these abilities far.

-Steam Engine/Water Compaction- These two abilities suffer from the same issue of being on pokemon who are both weak to one of the types the ability activates against and have poor stats to take advantage of the abilities as well. These abilities could easily become viable if placed on pokemon with better stats and typings meant to utilize their strengths.

-Flare Boost- A unique and powerful ability, with power matching choice specs without their drawback, held back by being on a mediocre pokemon that can't really take advantage of one of it's two stabs and has poor special attack as it is. Definitely in need of a user with stronger special attack, just as a starting place.

-Cheek Pouch- The ability to gain healing on top of a berries natural effect is great, and with the addition of moves that immediately eat berries, this ability is held back by the abysmal strength of its users.

4) Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?

I'd say Steam Engine fits all categories fairly well. While it's power definitely leans on the higher side of the spectrum, I feel that it can still be optimized well without backtracking and it definitely fits as a viable ability on a not so viable mon.


i don't eat, i don't sleep
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Time for me commit mild tomfoolery with my answers.

Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept?
I think that abilities that aren't heavily offensively or defensively biased would help us a lot here. Abilities that are purely offensive like Adaptability and those that are purely defensive like Filter obviously restrict us when we have to decide on a role for either CAP30b or CAP30i. Abilities like Cotton Down and Triage aren't necessarily explicitly offensive or defensive I believe would really spark a lot of discussion strictly offensive and defensive abilities would be unable to get.

Using the examples from before, if we choose Adaptability, I can't really see discussion being expanded a lot beyond "this Pokemon can do a lot of damage with STAB moves." It's even worse if we put it on CAP30i because it can't utilize any items to take advantage of that damage (and stacking it with a item that increases the damage of STAB moves too seems a bit lazy). Likewise, if we choose Filter, it's hard to see us talking about more than "this Pokemon can take a lot of damage, including super effective moves." Both examples are obviously exaggerations, but my main point is that discussion would feel pretty limited if those abilities and abilities similar to them.

On the contrary, abilities like Cotton Down and Triage I believe are really great abilities to choose because they potential capabilities both offensively and defensively can really help with discussion and give us more freedom when we have to choose a pathway we want CAP30b and CAP30i to go down. The Speed drops from Cotton Down, for example, provide speed control that can help greatly for offensive pressure or defensive prominence, while Triage granting recovery moves priority could help offensively for revenge killing and defensively for, well, recovery. These two are obviously not the only ability options, but I feel like they do a good job exemplifying my ideas.

Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages?
I noticed flying moose has already mentioned how Berry-related abilities restrict us, though not necessarily in the way I think why they restrict us. Using a more broader way to describe them, item-related abilities, while not many, I believe restrict us a lot because it choosing one of them I think would really diminish discussion in the later stages, particularly the one after this one. Since abilities like Cheek Pouch and Unburden need items to actually be useful (most of which are Berries, but I feel like saying that they're item-related instead cover more ground and is easier to follow), choosing one of them would obviously mean that we would need to assign it to CAP30b, the forme that isn't forced to hold a certain nonremovable item. The next stage of this process is to choose what forme to assign our chosen ability on and decide on that forme's role, but if we choose an item-related ability, it would basically defeat a lot of the purpose of the stage and make discussion pretty uninteresting. On the contrary, choosing an ability that's not item-related obviously helps to retain the purpose of the stage, but it will (not may, WILL) also spark a lot more discussion for defining a role because it would be open to both formes.

Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame?
Excuse my very novice understanding of the CAP metagame for this section.

It has already been mentioned before for this, but Cotton Down has a lot of utility with speed control in such a fast-paced metagame.

Likewise, I can potentially see Triage seeing some usefulness because again, in a fast-paced metagame, priority is going to be incredibly useful, especially for revenge killing.

I'm surprised that I haven't seen it mentioned so far, but Long Reach can be very useful in a metagame where contact moves can be punished simply by them being used, whether it be from being chipped down (Rocky Helmet, Iron Barbs, Rough Skin) to getting crippled by status (Static, Flame Body).

Scrappy may also be an interesting approach, specifically helping to take on Dragapult, which is seemingly the best Pokemon in the CAP metagame right now. In general, though, it still will be helpful fighting off other Ghost-types like Aegislash and Pajantom, but it's utility unfortunately ends there and is fairly metagame-dependent.

Abilities like Mega Launcher, Pixilate, and Refrigerate are probably the most interesting abilities offensively because they can provide damage in a more unique way compared to other offensive abilities. Steelworker also deserves a special mention as an ability that is pretty unique offensively that isn't as restrictive as the ones mentioned, potentially.

Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
Simply put, the Pokemon that have access to such abilities are simply outclassed by Pokemon already in the CAP metagame. Decidueye has a pretty useful ability in Long Reach for a physical attacker, but it's literally just outclassed by Pajantom as a Ghost-type physical attacker. It can even utilize it's signature move in Spirit Breaker better! Quite embarrassing for the owl. Solid Rock, Prism Armor, and Filter all do the same thing in taking less damage from super effective attacks, but you have no reason to run even the most viable users of the abilities. Rhyperior is outclassed as a Ground-type physical tank by too many Pokemon to list, there are many other Pokemon to use on hyper offense beside Necrozma, and the only time I should be seeing Mr. Mime is when I'm playing Pokemon Unite. A lot of Pokemon in the CAP metagame can perform any role Eldegoss can perform a whole lot better, especially providing speed control. To add insult to injury, its access to a completely better ability in Regenerator makes Cotton Down farther from the light. Triage would be useful on Comfey if it wasn't outclassed easily as a setup sweeper. Even in roles besides setup sweeper, Comfey would rather run Natural Cure instead.

In order to overcome these Pokemon's flaws so that their useful abilities can see the light, they just simply have to be able to compete with the Pokemon outclassing them and provide a reason for them to be used over the Pokemon in the CAP metagame. The easiest example I can give is the Decidueye being outclassed by Pajantom. If Decidueye had a better Speed tier and a more up-to-par Attack stat, then maybe it could see some competition with Pajantom thanks to Long Reach preventing Decidueye from taking unnecessary chip damage or getting statused. I know Spirit Shackle doesn't make contact, but my main point here is that Decidueye would be able to rival Pajantom as a Ghost-type physical attacker, which in turn can potentially make the metagame more diverse.

Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
I believe that Cotton Down, Triage, and Long Reach fit fairly well with all the categories.

Cotton Down and its ability to provide speed control I think would really expand discussion on roles and won't really restrict at all at any point in the process, in my opinion. It can prove itself in the CAP metagame because, as I said before, its ability to provide speed control would really help in the fast-paced CAP metagame. Speed control via an ability is also pretty unexplored because of how unviable Eldegoss is (and I suppose that relationship applies to Gooey and Goodra as well), so I think it would make a perfect candidate for optimization.

Triage is probably the most controversial ability out of the three, but I still believe it should be up for consideration. Priority recovery moves opens up a lot of unique ways for a Pokemon with access to it to utilize offensively and defensively, and I believe something like that would provide a lot to discuss. Unfortunately, it does restrict us in terms of moves and subsequently typing to give those moves STAB, so that's the main issue with this one. Regardless, Triage can prove itself to useful in the CAP metagame because, as mentioned, its fast-paced gameplay can be control by the priority provided by Triage. Lastly, it is obviously an unexplored ability because its only user, Comfey, isn't viable at all in the CAP metagame, so it would be interesting to see how we can optimize it utilizing Comfey's flaws as a foundation.

Long Reach is definitely my favorite out of these abilities simply due to how unique it can provide utility. It honestly would help create a lot of discussion on what CAP30b or CAP30i can do offensively or defensively without having to take the risks other Pokemon may need to take. Making moves that make contract usually not make contact anymore seems like a mostly offensive quirk, but it can help a lot in other types of utility such as crippling Pokemon with Knock Off and pivoting with U-turn without worrying about much risk against Rocky Helmet users and Pokemon with abilities that can cause status upon contact, like Static Zapdos. I feel like that explained why it may find usefulness in the CAP metagame as well, being able to take less risks in making contact with certain Pokemon in order to damage them or provide utility. It's also an incredibly unexplored ability considering that it's only user in Decidueye isn't viable in the CAP metagame at all. Plus, some of the sets it can run often have it run attacks that don't even make contact at all, which arguably makes Long Reach a very standout pick compared to other abilities that may not see usage in the CAP metagame but have their capabilities known already thanks to them being used in other metagames.
One thing I forgot to mention to mention in my above post is the synergy between 30i’s ability and its capacity for being Knock-Off proof. Given that we’re discussing abilities agnostic of forms right now, it’s less of a concern currently, but I’ve seen people (myself included) discussing abilities with 30i in mind. That said, I think at some point we will need to consider and define how much of a relationship 30i’s ability and its Knock-proofness should have. Should we have an ability that plays entirely off of it, like Justified or Rattled (which also has other options and things it can do, i.e., punishing U-Turn/ghost moves/other dark moves)? Or should we have an ability that’s tangential to Knock-proofness and provides another function to 30i’s niche? In essence, how much synergy do we want there to be between Knock-proofness and 30i’s ability? How integral is one to the other? Should they play off of each other to create 30i’s niche, or should its ability itself create its niche? And if the latter is the case, then should its Knock-proofness simply be another thing it has going for it/another thing it can provide to the tier and meta at large?


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Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages?

I am going to approach this question kind of backwards; instead of focusing on the most open abilities, I would rather focus on what limitations and restrictions are acceptable in the design space. Trying to avoid some or any restrictions seems like a totally unnecessary pitfall and probably harms the design process more than it helps it.

The first primary example of an ability with a reasonable restriction is Flower Veil. This ability necessitates Grass as one of our typing, but the ability is very open in other ways. It is a great ability on paper that could fit on Pokemon that leans offensive or defensive. The current meta shows there is definitely room for offensive and defensive Grass-types to work i.e. Jumbao, Kartana, Ferrothorn, Amoonguss, and Tapu Bulu (but especially Jumbao.) Even though the ability focuses on a specific type, the openness it has in how that type could be executed is well worth exploring.

Another example is Strong Jaw. This ability is rather harsh with its two restrictions: you have to be a physical attacker, and there is a limited number of viable moves to capitalize on the ability. The trade off here is that the effect of the ability is an incredible value; pseudo-STAB or increased power on Psychic Fangs and Crunch is awesome, and the former is super valuable in the meta. Two of the most prominent defensive Pokemon are Arghonaut and Toxapex, and the dominant form of HO is still Screens; Strong Jaw works itself as an anti-HO and wallbreaking tool while keeping the typing stage completely open, which is incredibly unique despite its restrictions.

A final example is Tinted Lens. This ability is restrictive in a different way. While the ability works well on offensive and even tankier Pokemon that could utilize a unique offensive move for its effect and get a little more chip in the process, it is restrictive in the sheer strength of this ability. Where we draw the line at optimization for abilities like Tinted Lens is important, since without restriction the ability is easy to break. This does limit design space and even goes against some interpretations of the concept, but the reward is being to explore a very strong ability in a controlled environment that designs with it in mind.

Examples of abilities that I think impose too many restrictions have been posted before me. I think dex's analysis of Hustle and flying mouse's explanation of niche counter abilities don't offer much design space. I also think berry based abilities are a no-go for the most part this time around, and I personally don't find weather or terrain based abilities that interesting of design space either.

Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame?

I am not going to split hairs with this question. Most abilities would probably prove themselves fine in the current meta unless the ability is legit bad, inconsistent, or focuses on building suboptimal teams to enable (i.e Ripen, Slush Rush, Anger Point.) There are some abilities that are more interactive with the meta for sure. Rattled definitely interacts with two of the most common moves at the moment: U-turn and Knock Off, while also catching Shadow Ball too. Magic Bounce is Magic Bounce; it is going to be amazing where the Pokemon hold it has the stats and typing to actually work. But really, I think judging if an ability would prove itself without the context of typing, stats, or movepool is not something I am focusing on.

Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?

All the abilities boldest above and more. The flaws can be overcome with better stats and/or typing when the base Pokemon are shit like Wigglytuff and Xatu. Or making sure the Pokemon doesn't have a better ability that fits its role like Toxapex or Blissey. The best example of a poorly optimized ability that sees use in OU/CAP is Sturdy on Skarmory; Sturdy is much more interesting in the lower tiers. I will only add abilities that I think would make for an interesting project:

Water Bubble
Poison Touch
Serene Grace
Cotton Down
Aroma Veil

Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?

I only posted abilities I think have good, interesting design space with multiple avenues of success; are interactive with some common aspect of the current metagame; and are cool abilities with high potential but poorly optimized for their function. So basically any ability bolded above, which leaves a very deep pool. My personal favorites are Aroma Veil, Poison Touch, Strong Jaw, Flower Veil, Sturdy, and Water Bubble.
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Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
I want to take this time to talk about an ability that I feel has only been lightly touched on, especially with the current popularity of Cotton Down. I believe Merciless in particular is pretty underexplored and could make to be a great offensive ability. The only Pokemon with access to it is Toxapex, and while it's not a bad Pokemon in general, it was not made to be an offensive bane who can dish out damage reasonable enough to abuse it (especially in place of Regenerator, which fits its role of defensive wall better). With that said, its flaws could be overcame by giving one of CAP 30's forms reasonable offensive stats (30i's item could help here too). They don't have to be crazy high like most wallbreakers, however having enough to break through common bulky walls or tanks with the help of guaranteed crits and poison damage could make do. Toxapex could've theoretically operated as a bulky tank who could abuse crits + poison to widdle down at opponents while using its bulk for longevity over abusing speed for quick kills, so its not unreasonable to say that CAP 30 could realize that role to optimize Merciless to its full potential.
Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
I believe the options that give the widest variety of methods to execute the concept are abilities that give the player a lot of agency for how and when to activate the ability. There's been some discussion around options like Steam Engine, Thick Fat or Rattled which I believe aren't great examples of an ability that gives a lot of variety in how to execute the concept as we will need to build very specifically in order to try to get the opponent to trigger the ability through their options, or try to get a decent prediction switch-in. Options that are simple to activate like Cotton Down, Cursed Body or Poison Touch I believe give the best options.

In terms of overly restricted. I think a lot of this comes down to abilities that are item, stat or typing dependent. So any of the item focused abilities like Ripen or Magician, abilities that boost specific offensive options like Justified or Competitive, or options like Flower Veil that necessitate a typing. I don't necessarily think these options should be written off, but I do believe that they restrict our future stages. Design restrictions can help lead to better final results without destroying conversation and debate, so something like Flower Veil requiring one of our two typings to be Grass isn't the end of the world.

Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?
Similar to Estronic I have only been playing CAP regularly for a relatively short period so I am still learning the ins and outs of the meta. Looking at the PPL stats, I want to flag Refrigerate as an interesting option as Ice as an offensive typing threatens a substantial amount of the metagame right now, and a Pokemon with strong Ice options can differentiate themselves well in the meta and carve out a significant niche. In particular we're looking at Landorus-T, Dragapult, Jumbao, Tornadus-T, Colossoil and Zapdos as high priority picks in tournament play.

I also agree that there is likely a place for Rattled to thrive in the CAP metagame to handle U-Turns, Knock Offs and the occasional ghost move.

Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
As I mentioned in Concept Assessment I feel like stats are the main detriment to the success of a lot of these abilities, however poor typing is also a key contributor. Stakeout is a good example of stats being a detriment, mono-Dark isn't the worst typing in the world but oh boy does Thievul not have the stats to make the most out of it. Lower attack than special attack really stops it in its tracks here. Simply boosting attack could make Thievul be a legitimate user of Stakeout, it has a fairly diverse movepool, pivoting options and support tools like Knock Off that still deal a big chunk of damage.

Lurantis and Contrary are another good example here, given that Lurantis can use Contrary to boost Special Attack with Leaf Storm, similar to Serperior, but low special attack and surviviability don't give it the oomph to deliver on it. Lurantis does also lose other movepool options that could help boost, plus a lack of diverse attacking options restricts offensive presence.

Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
Cotton Down and Merciless I agree with, so I'll be focusing on some other options I think are promising:
  • Poison Touch
    • Poison Touch does restrict our options here due to the contact move requirements unfortunately, but otherwise this is a stand out ability for me. Obviously we do not need to be a poison type to use the ability so no restrictions on typing. I feel the amount of player agency here, the chance to explore the less common "poisoned" condition rather than "badly poisoned" and the number of ways this could be executed from a role and stats perspective are interesting. I can see both offensive and defensive applications of Poison Touch so we can still have an interesting role discussion.
  • Refrigerate
    • Refrigerate interests me because of how potent Ice is offensively but how high risk it is defensively. Refrigerate essentially could provide a third STAB option in a metagame that has a lot of top threats avoiding Ice moves. I think it could shake up the meta in an interesting and balanced way, while letting us have some great discussions about the best moves to turn into Ice options.
  • Cursed Body
    • Cursed Body activating on any attack, not just contact, is the game changer here. Anything with Cursed Body currently does not want to be taking hits and will choose better options or will take it out of necessity and does not fully explore it. This is an excellent ability to shut down multiple mons. It is definitely better on more defensive and sustainable Pokemon so it limits the process a smidge there, but overall a solid choice.
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i don't eat, i don't sleep
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Gonna comment on some abilities mentioned by others that I haven't mentioned in my post.

Oblivious would be pretty neat for offensive and defensive roles that require status moves, with the occasional usefulness against Intimidate users, but looking at what's currently viable in the CAP metagame, I can't really see the ability put in as much work as we may want it to. A lot of Pokemon that's currently viable either don't have access to Taunt or can't find space to run it over other moves; plus, since the metagame it almost basically just fast offensive Pokemon and defensive Pokemon specifically meant to minimize damage from such offensive Pokemon, there just doesn't seem to be a notion for us to choose an ability to mainly negate Taunt, a move that doesn't really mesh well in the metagame currently, in my opinion.

Tinted Lens is another ability that I'm not feeling too strongly about, although it is the most intriguing ability when it comes to abilities aren't really anything but pure damage buffs. It also would most likely not put so much strain on other stages like role assigning and when we actually have to give CAP30b and CAP30i attributes, so it wouldn't be the end of the world for me if we choose this ability.

Water Compaction would be pretty unique to build around, considering that it won't be so cut and dry as it may seem. Its effect is somewhat contradicting in the current CAP metagame, since most Water-type moves being used are special, so would be interesting to somehow optimize it on either CAP30b or CAP30i through other aspects like typing and stats.

Merciless would also be an interesting choice when it comes to what we can do with it. Unfortunately, its niche feels a bit too situational in the current metagame. It's not as situational as Oblivious, but it's hard to see either one of CAP30's formes finding a lot of opportunities to utilize Merciless in a very impactful way; spreading poison via Toxic Spikes is tough with the abundance of Heavy-Duty Boots users, and spreading it with Toxic can also be a bit challenging if the opponent knows not to get their walls statused. There are some unique situations, though, such as Magic Guard Clefable having to be careful of sponging Toxic, but regardless of such situations, I feel like Merciless would have trouble seeing usefulness in the current metagame.

Rattled I think would be a really cool ability for us to choose out of the options we have. The most prominent niche it would have is making the opposition have to be more careful when using Knock Off, and considering that one of CAP30's formes is required to hold a nonremovable, we could potentially see a lot of interesting discussion on its synergy. Other properties such as discouraging pivoting with U-turn and potentially being a good Pokemon to face off against Ghost-types like Dragapult and Pajantom open us to a lot of possibilities and paths we can choose.

Magic Bounce is without a doubt one of the more powerful abilities at our disposal, but I think choosing this would make the entire process a fairly difficult challenge, and not in the good way. Giving one of CAP30's formes Magic Bounce would definitely caused the other forme to get the short end of the stick, assuming we don't give it an ability at such a caliber. The part I would want to stress, though, is that would need to be very careful to not overoptimize whichever forme gets assigned Magic Bounce, which would be very difficult. Such challenge would also have a pretty impactful ripple effect on the other forme; since the two formes will share many attributes such as typing and (I think) BST, we would need to put a lot more focus onto not overtuning the forme with Magic Bounce, thus causing the other forme to be pretty shafted in terms of discussion time and attributes. Magic Bounce may fit the bill in terms of abilities open for us to use, but I believe it's simply too powerful for us to have some freedom in the process.

Water Bubble has basically the same problem as Magic Bounce, but I personally think its issues are on an even higher level. Having to build around the ability doubling the damage of Water-type moves, halving the damage from Fire-type moves, and providing an immunity to burns all in one may have some high points, but this would put a huge strain on us choosing its typing, stats, movepool, and more. Also, like Magic Bounce, we would absolutely need to make sure we don't make whatever forme we assign to Water Bubble too overbearing, which in turn would cause the other forme to get shafted as well, even more so than Magic Bounce. I just don't think powerful abilities, especially those on a caliber like Water Bubble, should be among the final abilities for us to choose simply due to have overcentralizing it would be in the process.

Compound Eyes can possibly be interesting, providing much more potential for moves with low accuracy to shine. There are a lot of such moves to choose from that can provide either offensive or defensive utility, so going such a route can really spark some discussion we wouldn't get from other abilities.

Those are basically all of the abilities I wanted to comment on. As for some of the other abilities mentioned in this thread before, I'll put them in separate lists based on how I feel about them.

In Support Of:
Thick Fat

Steam Engine
Perish Body
Ice Scales
Fur Coat
Poison Touch
Cursed Body

Innards Out
Flower Veil
Liquid Voice
Serene Grace
Anger Point
Flare Boost

Yes, I know this makes me looks very picky, but I can assure that I have mostly solid reasons for each ability's placement. Feel free to ask me why I have a certain ability on one of these lists if you're interested.
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I feel like in discussing potential "unoptimized" abilities/pokemon, eg abilities that are on the table to be selected right now, it's also important to look at these pokemon in their home tiers and not strictly within the context of an ss ou/cap metagame - ie, not "this ability is unoptimized because the holder is unviable in ss cap" but "this ability is unoptimized because none of its holders have used it effectively in their own respective metas."

Adaptability is something that has been brought up in this thread a few times already, and we might be able to consider it unoptimized because crawdaunt is hardly viable in cap (though it did actually see ou play earlier this gen), but at the same time, crawdaunt still takes advantage of adaptability incredibly well in the tiers where it's viable or has been viable in the past. Prankster sees little to no "optimal" use in cap atm (hazehawk doesn't count, could arguably say grimm on screens HO), but the ability has been explored to death on other stuff like klefki/sableye/whim in lower tiers or past gens. Aerilate/pixilate etc have also seen "optimal" use in recent memory on certain megas/sylveon - you could make the argument that these abilities haven't been optimized in SS specifically, but like, does that really matter? At the end of the day, we still know what these abilities do and how to best take advantage of them - I don't see there being much to learn if we go with one of these options where there the path to optimization is so bluntly obvious or has just been done before.

Anyways, what I'm getting at is that I feel we should mostly be considering abilities that, regardless of if their holders are viable in ss cap or not, are not used on the holder's main set in its respective tier (merciless pex, rattled persian) or are used on the main set but not taken full advantage of (water bubble araq, cursed body froslass). Generally I just think it would be a little boring to choose something like adaptability/mega launcher/pixilate/serene grace etc which has already been explored a fair bit, just not in ss cap - even if we accept that there's more than one way to optimize an ability, I feel that there is still much less to learn and a lot less design space to work within for these options.

Not going to go through all of the questions right now but I still want to list out a bunch of "unoptimized" abilities for the sake of resource compiling/contributing options to discuss:
air lock
anger point
battle armor
cheek pouch
contrary (has been explored a lot already but i feel there's still a fair bit of design space left)
cursed body
cotton down
flare boost
flower veil
fur coat (stat doubling abilities are normally boring because they can just be replicated with stats, but due to the bst restriction between formes there is actually an interesting place for them here)
gale wings
ice scales
liquid voice
long reach
magic bounce
marvel scale
perish body
poison heal/point/touch
quick feet
refrigerate (hasn't really had an optimal user in the same way that eg pixilate has, but the paths to optimization are likely going to be the same for all of the -ate abilities so idk)
sand spit
stakeout (this one is actually horrible and idk why we are entertaining it again)
steam engine
steely spirit
thick fat (not sure how much design space is left for this one but w/e)
triage (comfey did this really well but i think there's still room to explore / optimize)
water bubble
water compaction
weak armor

a couple of these are on the soft-ban ability banlist so I don't know how productive it is to list them out here, but since stuff like water bubble has been getting a fair amount of discussion in the discord I thought I might as well write them down. tried to be fairly comprehensive but I'm sure I probably still missed a few good ones


I am the Scientist now
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Aroma Veil would be interesting if we had more than one taunt user. Still, this is technically optimizable even if its just sticking it onto a mon that relies on recovery.

Blaze Legitimately optimizing this ability would be hyper cool. How do you make a mon who needs to be put into low HP to excel during a game. Its low power yes, but this kind of power boost that cannot be hazed away is super cool in Hawk/Pex meta. This also applies to Grass Torrent and Regular Torrent.

Cheek Pouch
is cool but forcing both formes to be entirely item dependent is sorta meh. Still, giving an extra 33% heal to any berry is sorta insane. I don't support this one. Gluttony and Ripen both also fall under this category.

Competitive is very cool. Nice Ability, gives you boosts from spdef lando-T. That said, very limited effect otherwise beyond making moonblast clef hate life and the government. Clear Body is actually sorta cool for making is immune to sball stat drops and intimidate drops. There's legit potential to optimize this one. I like both of these stat manipulation focused abilities.

Compound Eyes is practically a minor power boost for most mons by letting you use your less consistent stabs (eg Mega Horn, etc), not super impactful, but there def is room to optimize this, though I question how much.

Effect Spore, Poison Point, Cursed Body are all % based contact abilities that do legitimately have room for optimization, and are something we can build around, but the inherent randomness could affect how they perform in practice, and honest, they're annoying. I don't love them.

Flare Boost, Toxic Boost, and Quick Feet have sorta the same issue as Cheek Pouch in that they constrain the item of the base forme. I don't know how much I love them as a result, but there is definitely a place of a status immune offensive mon in the tier beyond just Pajantom. Marvel Scale also exists for a more defensive one that doesn't require a Flame Orb.

Fluffy and Ice Scales are legit very interesting here specifically in the context that we have two formes that must share the same BST, I am requesting they be un-softbanned for discussion as a result.

Strong Jaw, Mega Launcher, Skill Link, and Sniper are all fairly specific damage boosting abilities, they are all fairly intersting, and provide a lot of interesting opportunities for optimization that aren't fully explored (Skill Link is iffy, but with Cloyster being gone, I think its legal).

Poison Touch is cool as hell and has been covered heavily by others. So is Cotton Down.

Simple is something I'll actually bat for because it opens up a lot of very interesting options that are currently impossible. From Work Up going from a near unusable move into a mixed sweeping Nuke, Cosmic Power becoming god, and stuff like Power Up Punch and Meteor Beam becoming insane, this ability is legitimately very cool if we shy away from literally like the obvious options. Its also something that's hardly fully optimized given that our only example is a mon that cannot afford to set up ever due to dying to every hit (Swoobat).

Perish Body is another ability that has admittedly somewhat limited room for optimization, but is still such a unique effect on a mon that literally like doesn't use it that I'd love more discussion.

my brain is dead so this post is rough.
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This has been a LOT of reading today, across the various threads for CAP30, and its all a little exciting isnt it?

Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
I think an ability whose interaction is essentially to make generic attack move do more damage (say Adaptability), leaves us with the least wiggle room in later stages in terms of optimization of the actual ability: at that stage, it's a matter of defining what break points need to be hit/avoided, and then limiting it around said ability. Similarly for the generally passive defense abilities, like say Filter or even (as much I like the ability) Ice Scales. To slightly rephrase it, they either serve to limit our BST which impacts the rest of the design, or to look at it in another point of view, bypass the BST.

Conditional defensive and offensive abilities have much more interactivity: both in terms of actively utilising said ability in game or potentially countering it and in designing a mon which emphasies how to use.

Using say Conkeldurr, which is a rather excellent unintentional example of our 'concept' based around the Guts ability, its high attack, good offensive typing and access to Facade pretty much typifies how an 'optimized' Guts user would look. It is conditional and is something that can be self triggered via its Item slot. That doesnt mean there is no counterplay: Knock Off as it switches in prior to being Burned leaves it with effectively 3 moves, no item and no ability unless one is spamming Scalds and Lava Plume.

If I was to pick and choose from the Abilities list that are less restrictive, and fulfil the concept, i would put my support behind these:

Merciless: this is quite interesting as an ability. The one pokemon that has it also has Renegerator, and it is a rare mon that cannot use it. It is not simply that Merciless is underpowered, but that Regenerator is overly useful. Merciless has its own issues and they would be a good project to optimize, I think: many of the usual staples of status spreading will no longer be an option on a Team that wants to capitalise on a Merciless user which in turn limits who it can be partnered with: Burn and Paralysis won't trigger, and will actively prevent Poison (along with other Status Immunities, Toxic Spikes won't affect HDB/Flyers/Levitate/Air Balloon/Steels/Poisons etc, it wont and without Serene Grace, most secondary inflicts only trigger at best 30%. Added to which, finding which pokemon make use of Defensive Boosts which Merciless could help break through I think that these complications present a very wide range of options for a CAPform. The trick has to be how we can make it Merciless work, rather than making a mon that works, and is just better when a Poisoned Mon turns up.

Water Compaction: If only the mon with this wasnt weak to water. Stamina, also. I like the idea of defense stacking, especially should it not take a move slot, as that gives more freedom to the rest of the set without 'must take Acid Armour' etc. Being a soft counter to water with some resists and then doubling down on that punishment is a decent option. The trick is how to maintain these buffs when Haze is an option for an opponent as bulky as the Pex.

Mimicry: so this is late, and i'm possibly not able to put my full thoughts adequately into justifying its removal from the softban list. However, i'll try. The one Pokemon that can use Mimicry is Galarian Stunfisk. With only 81 Att and 32 Speed, it is never gojng to set the world on fire offensively. With 4 Terrain Types to give it an array of Typings, which it can back up offensively with an array of various interesting moves, ranging from Terrain Pulse so that it has STAB, or a specific type, like say Rising Voltage to allow it to play alongside team mates. That saod, so soon after another type changing ability might be a bit too similar for some who worked on Chromera.

Snow Warning: okay, please stop laughing. So, Snow Warning, yes, its a weather, but it's the worst one, and only Alolan Ninetales can be considered 'decent' at the setting job. There are only a few pokemon who can benefit from it, and in comparison to the absolute plethora of Sun, Sea and Sand setters, Hail is absolutely impoverished, not least because its only intrinsic benefit is doing minor chip damage. There are incidentals: certain well known moves, Slush Rush users etc, but compare to Sand which buffs Rock SpDef, and Rain and Sun which boost Water and Fire moves while nerfing the other types, calling Hail the red headed Step Child is insulting to the ginger. It might be a bit tricky for the optics: at team preview you'll spy a hail team a mile off, so there is no 'psyops', and there is no none Ice type Snow Warning mon, and no HDB. This makes Snow Warning both unoptimized, and a good candidate.


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Before I begin answering the other questions I wanted to propose a question in regards to the legality of discussing a 'fully-banned ability' in Neuroforce. This is of course a Legendary exclusive ability, and in fact exclusive to a form that doesn't actually exist in the game at the moment due to a lack of Z-Crystals. That being said, considering it has a unique effect in the context of abilities with no clones, and has also itself not really been particularly optimised in the ubers metagame due to Ultra Necrozma's often lacking coverage and need to run STABs with fairly poor Super Effective coverage I thought I'd like to offer it as an option to discuss. At the end of the day we are already doing a Framework that breaks optics conventions slightly and it might be a situation in which a Legendary only ability wouldn't feel particularly egregious. Food for thought, I'm pretty happy for it to remain banned in any case, but if it's something that we decide to allow I could easily see it ticking a lot of the categories in the questions below.
  • Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
I think there's a wide range of abilities that allow us the flexibility to execute our concept in different ways as others have previously discussed. Some that stick out to me are the underused 'Contact' abilities for lack of a better word that interact with damage taken such as Rattled, Cotton Down or Gooey even though they are slightly different, Perish Body, Stamina, Water Bubble and Steam Engine, in that they can be helpful for both defensive and offensive reasons, by forcing switches, and boosting in order to reduce damage or allow CAP30 to move first. Furthermore, in the case of Water Bubble which condenses and compresses a range of different usable and important features such as increasing the power of Water attacksand reducing Burns, it gives a lot of room for whichever form that receives it the ability to even run different sets. Others such as Long Reach, Merciless, Competitive while suggesting one type of offensive role more than anything defensive are still very broad in terms of building around them and for that reason are likely to be wide enough for an interesting process. There are also some pretty interesting niche options like Mirror Armor that could have a lot of depth, allowing CAP30 to preserve its offenses and defenses and reflect them back enabling the opposite. For example an Intimidate immunity that allows CAP 30 to not only stay physically offensive but in effect boost its defenses too by weakining the opponent if they switch in.

The abilities that I think are going to be restrictive are ones that specifically mandate a certain relationship with a type or item as it will limit our ability to entertain a variety of options for both formes. In this particular case I am referring to Flower Veil first and foremost, and then others such as Cheek Pouch and Ripen. Additionally I think Fur Coat, Fluffy and Ice Scales risk completely breaking our stat leaning by effectively allowing one form to have a higher BST than the other unless both are present on the opposing forms, which strikes me as fairly lazy. I would also be fairly comfortable classifying offensive abilities with fairly major mostly unconditional power boosts such as Stakeout, Tinted Lens and Download as restrictive, as they do hamber our stat and movepool budget somewhat in comparison to things such as Water Bubble, Steelworker which are only going to be restrictive on those stages if they double up with STAB or Merciless and Competitive which are conditional enough that there are times where they won't even activate.
  • Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?
To be honest I think realistically most of the abilities mentioned above, both those that I consider 'wide' and others that are 'restrictive' have a fairly good chance of being useful provided we design around them correctly. The most obviously successful are going to be the ones with quite powerful and broad effects in a vacuum such as Water Bubble, Tinted Lens, Download and Stakeout, but I would actually probably suggest that ones that interact with specific features of the current metagame such as Rattled, Steam Engine and Cotton Down that trigger on common attacking types could also see some major use given the right shell.
  • Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
This a great and varied question, for the most part, these abilities are from what I can see held back by a combination of stats and typing more than anything else, although in certain cases such as Merciless and Cotton Down they are actually outshined by other abilities the Pokemon has access to as we know. Of the ones such as Water Bubble, Gooey, Rattled, Competitive and Long Reach to name a few that I think have appropriate width to how to build around them, it is particularly clear that existing users do not have the current statlines to make use of them in the CAP and OU metagames, with Araquanid, Goodra, Persian or Sudowoodo, Milotic and Decidueye, perhaps each of the abilities most viable users, having major flaws in actualisation, prominently with medium to low offensive stats and really unfortunate speed tiers, in addition many don't also have really effective defensive stats either. I think with this in mind should we build with any of these abilities, the key is making sure that the mons should more than anything have suitable speed tiers and the chance for some decent to strong offensive or defensive stats depending on the role.
  • Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
As I have articulated here, some of the abilities that I think have the most chance to really shine are Water Bubble, Rattled, Gooey or Cotton Down, Merciless, Competitive and Long Reach due to their broad chance for success and actualisation. I am not against any of the major offensive options such as Stake Out, Download and Tinted Lens per se, although I do believe they do need to be handled with care, and as such am leaning myself to those mentioned above.
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Opinions, be warned

In general I'm not a fan of damage-boosting Abilities like Adaptability, Strong Jaw, or Stakeout. There is little to explore in terms of interactions. Some are definitely better than others but overall these feel pretty lazy.

Tinted Lens is terrifying. It does fit the bill as the Pokemon which have it either suck too much to be used, get instantly banned from a tier and subsequently never find use elsewhere, or are Sigilyph and run Magic Guard. We would absolutely have to be careful though.

Refrigerate + relates -ates don't interest me. I'm biased because I've played/seen a lot of OMs/PMs which tend to enjoy using these. They are unique and would likely be quite good, but IMO these are really bland since you'd basically just throw a bunch of good Normal moves on a Pokemon and call it a day.

Merciless is a really good example of unoptimized and would make for a cool concept, I do worry that the current meta is just too unfavorable to make it work. Then again you don't need an amazing damage-boosting ability to be a good offensive mon, look at Pult or Zera. Toxic is also very practical for a handful of attackers so I would say I am a fan of this.

Thick Fat has a lot of unexplored potential if you ask me. Most Pokemon that get it have one of three problems:
  1. Not supposed to take hits often/Hard to switch in (Mamoswine)
  2. Good defensively but no reliable recovery (Snorlax)
  3. Reliable recovery but bad defensively (Appletun)
We could easily make this ability work. Adding resistances to popular coverage options in Fire and Ice on top of our typing lets us get really creative with our design and can work on both offensively- or defensively-inclined Pokemon

Water Bubble is bonkers yet it's such a cool ability. We'd have to be careful with this as the boost to Water moves is flat-out better than STAB, but there is honestly so much to explore thanks to also reducing incoming Fire damage and becoming immune to burn. Just make sure to remember that this was banned for a reason.

Water Compaction and Stamina are really cool and would be fun to play with, while also not being inherently broken. Not a bad choice at all.

Snow Warning is not something I thought about but I can't disagree. Sucks that hail has like two effects we could get use out of.

Cursed Body is a tad scary. Random chance for opponent to be afflicted with Disable is both powerful and very frustrating to play against: maybe we should be glad this hasn't been optimized. Still, it is an option.

Aroma Veil is cool and way better as Taunt immunity than Oblivious. Taunt (and others like Encore) being uncommon right now is also a bad reason to ignore this BTW, Gen 8 is not permanent and simply having such immunities grants so much more freedom.

Simple, Contrary, Ice Scales, Fur Coat are all stupid OP abilities but if we have self-control while using them could be pretty awesome actually.

Magic Bounce is really powerful, perhaps too much for the project, partially because a Pokemon doesn't have to really do anything to benefit from it. I'm pretty opposed to this as a result.

Rattled is very unique and has both interesting application in the meta while also having obvious synergy with 30i. Big fan of this too.

Poison Touch looks promising. It reminds me of why Scald is so good as it simultaneously deals reliable damage and can chip with Burn. Expand that to every contact move and give it more chip damage. Very cool and honestly quite practical.

Cotton Down was something I was really hyped for, so I was pretty disappointed when Eldegoss ended up being budget Tangrowth and didn't do anything in Doubles either. Lowering Speed upon direct damage has a lot of uses in such a fast-paced generation. Bit worried it might just get U-Turned on all corners however.

I don't think I've seen Mirror Armor mentioned yet. Turning stat-decreases from the likes of Intimidate, Fire Lash, Moonblast and Shadow Ball sounds rewarding and has a lot of ways to be approached.

Would also like to echo spoo's post, I think we should prioritize abilities that rarely see use or don't live up to their strengths in general, rather than just not in OU/CAP. We should be trying to take an ability that tends to be overlooked and actualize it instead of going for one we'd probably end up using later on for a different CAP because its already known to be good and has been good in the past (Adaptability and Magic Bounce come to mind).


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heyo friends, want to talk about smthng that i think is sorta being overlooked ig.

i really, really think we need to make sure whatever ability we choose for this mon has universal utility; that is, utility that isn't heavily affected by the matchup the pokemon is put in. im pretty low on steam engine and water compaction for this same reason; they're entirely dependent on the presence of one of 5 relevant pokemon on the opposing team (slowking, toxapex, tapu fini, krilowatt, urshifu-r), and the ability only has an effect if youre switching to a water-type move that they use. imo thats pretty situational and niche and i dont think itd have a legitimate impact in every game played by the pokemon, which should be the case if our goal is to center the pokemon around the ability.

on that same basis, flower veil and poison touch are probably my favorite abilities of the bunch. although flower veil shoehorns us into the grass type, theres a lot you can do with an immunity to all status (this is useful on both an offensive mon (no para or burns or toxic on mons that get worn down super easily) and a defensive mon (pretty self explanatory)) and an immunity to intimidate is a cool bonus. poison touch means that every one of your moves has the potential to cause extra chip damage and you inherently have the ability to force progress on not-toxic-immune pokemon. this has meaningful impact on every game you play.

i hope this is taken into consideration a little more as we go on with this stage; i think universal utility is essential if we want to make this pokemon viable and able to stand up to the high ranks of the cap metagame.
Forgive me for any mistakes, I’m new to this whole thing.

Here are some abilities I find interesting:

Emergency Exit/Wimp Out is an ability that is usually not preferable, forcing a switchout when the user’s HP is lower than 50%. The way this could be used is interesting, as with recoil moves like Brave Bird, Flare Blitz, or Wood Hammer; the user could theoretically create a wacky version of U-Turn or Flip Turn but with much higher power (albeit damaging the user in the process). A limited recovery movepool (i.e. only Rest) would be interesting but hard to use and make CAP 30 quite niche so that might be a bit iffy.

Another mostly unused ability is Triage (exclusive to Comfey), which boosts the priority of healing moves by 3 (as of Gen 8). The concept is nice, as it essentially gives you a Get out of Jail Free card when at low HP, especially since all moves with 3+ priority aren’t damaging (except Fake Out, which can only be used the first turn the user is out (similar to First Impression which has 2 priority). Considering the mode change basis of CAP 30, 30i could be an attacker and 30 a healer or vice versa.

Download and Adaptability are great attack-based abilities (with the former likely having more balanced base stats). When combined with good typing, Adaptability is powerful (although executed very well on the powerful Mega Lucario). Meanwhile, Download can be used on a mixed attacker as a good wallbreaker.

Refridgerate/Aerilate/Pixilate have a weird potential about them that I like but also dislike. While some Normal moves are very powerful , the lack of super-effectiveness on anything makes it a bit bad. This could technically limit the type choices, so I'm really not a fan.

While others have mentioned this before me, I love speedy attackers and it's sad that abilities like Slush Rush/Sand Rush are not used due to Sandslash and A-Sandslash being unviable in most tiers besides the former in PU as a setup spinner. While these abilities would have CAP 30 waste a turn setting up, I find that fine as long as it isn't a glass cannon that will get 2HKO by your standard attacker.
Before answering Tadasukes questions I’d like to argue in favor of unbanning Fur Coat and Ice Scales from the soft-banlist. Both abilities are currently soft banned, as they considered a simple stat boost, that could easily be replicated by just adding more stats. But in the case of our framework this doesn’t hold true. Since we have a bst that has to go on two forms, we are almost guaranteed restricted from replicating their effects through stats, without gimping every other stat or giving the other form a lot more power as well.
Freeing these abilities will give us two more options, which have yet to be successful in a higher tier.
Im gonna edit in my answers to tada questions later

Edit: I realize I’m a bit late to the party bc life and ladder tour got in the way but still I want to give my 2c.
Which unoptimized abilities give us the widest variety of methods to execute the concept? Conversely, which abilities are overly restrictive on future stages? Why?
i think the second part of the question is basically already closed as we have a preliminary discussion list.
For the first part, I believe, that abilities that are conditional but have a really strong effect, are the most interesting. They give us both room for optimization and counterplay.
Abilities, that fit this mold are Merciless, Stakeout, Poison Touch, Competitive, Defiant (although that’s on Bisharp and Gapdos so the question would be if that’s optimized enough on them) Cotton down, (Tanglin Hair), Anger point, Stamina.

Which unoptimized abilities have the best chance at proving themselves effective in the CAP metagame? In what situations might they perform the best?
I think there’s a big variety of abilities, that could find a niche in CAP.
Obviously there are some that are just generically good and will find a place in the meta if they are used on the right mon.
These include: Merciless, Stakeout, Simple, Innards Out, tinted lens, cotton down, corrosion, stamina, reckless, magic bounce and probably others I forgot.
Others might be more niche or conditional but still can hold value if we design the mon right.
These are abilities that we probably can make work with pretty well:
Water Compaction, Steam engine, poison Touch, competitive, queenly majesty shed skin, quick feet, flare boost, aroma veil, super luck, sniper, anger point, long reach, rattled

Which abilities are under-explored due to flaws in the mons that receive them or a lack of optimization towards the ability? How might those flaws be overcome?
I think all of the abilities listed above are pretty underexplored or on bad users. How we can make them viable is going to depend on what abilities we use. It’s always going to be case by case. Just learning from the mons, that have these abilities and what makes them unviable should always be the first step.
Do any abilities fit all three above categories? If so, which abilities and why?
I think merciless, Stakeout, cotton down, Stamina, competitive and poison touch fit this mold the best.
Both merciless and stakeout are incredibly strong when triggered, but both can be played around and be designed in ways that make them easily integrated in the metagame. At the same time, we can explore how prediction can shape a game for stakeout and how unusual set up can work with merciless.
Cotton down and stamin are not as strong but their effects fit specific playstyles pretty well and have room for a lot of interesting exploration into how stat manipulation can change matchups and flip the Momentum of the Game.
Competitive and poison touch finnaly are the most conditional of the lot but if designed right can build interesting niches for themselves in the meta.
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