CAP 30 - Part 2 - Primary Ability Discussion

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spoo

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I like the proposed slate a lot in its current form but I do feel that there's room to add one or two more options.

Stamina received a ton of discussion in the first two pages but fell off pretty hard once we broke page three. Reading back, the general consensus around it seemed to be widely positive, and indifferent at worst. This is a really cool ability to me, and I think it should be a strong contender to make slate. The ability is quite strong and I don't believe it would constrain our process too much either - it does imply a fair amount of information about our role and function, but doesn't necessarily lock us into anything, and I feel that this ability could lead to a fascinating final product. I definitely trust we'd end up with a CAP that truly optimizes this ability, compared to other abilities like Cotton Down that may be a bit harder to squeeze all of the juice out of.

Berserk also got a ton of positive support (and a few people saying they were indifferent towards it, but hardly anything was strictly negative), and even had a good amount of discussion recently as a result of discussion questions. This ability is great, perhaps underwhelming at first but a +1 boost can be deceptively strong, especially if we are given recovery. It does lock us into being a special attacker (which really isn't a big deal imo but still a consideration), and arguably more importantly is the fact that if we do give this recovery, we'd also be giving recovery to our second forme which may not be ideal. I still think this is a great option though and would fit in quite nicely with the rest of the slate if diversity of options is a consideration at all.

Lastly Download is something that was talked about a total of, like, one time after the first page (s/o darek), but this is such a dope ability and I wish it had gotten some more attention. It's hard to argue that this wouldn't be the objectively strongest option among the current slate, but that isn't necessarily a downside - we have the tools to balance this ability out later, I only worry about balancing insofar as it gimps our alternate forme, and frankly it's very hard to gauge how much that would even manifest as an issue right now. You could also argue that this ability has been decently explored/optimized with Genesect but I feel like there's still a large amount of untapped potential, especially considering the ability's extremely limited distribution. Great ability overall, very strong but that doesn't have to be a bad thing, it gives us a bunch of room to work with, and also mixed attackers are really cool. I hope it's considered for the slate even though this is a very last minute push lol.

I'll also back up quziel's pushes for no guard and shed skin cause those are dope too. I don't have much else to add onto what he already said, and I question if they even have a shot at making slate or not atm because this is definitely an eleventh hour effort, but maybe for the second ability stage they'll see some more discussion.
 
I know this is extremely last minute and I'm not sure if it will really make any sort of difference on the slate as a result, but I felt like I should just get it off my chest because why not.

Honestly, I think Simple is pretty overrated and shouldn't be slated.

First things first, I feel as if people are heavily overstating the value that a +2 Accuracy Boost gives us as opposed to a +1 Accuracy Boost. At +1 Accuracy, pretty much every move with 75% or more accuracy becomes 100% accurate, while at +2, pretty much any move with 60% or more accuracy becomes 100% accurate. Outside of a group of Special Attacks (Hurricane, Blizzard, Thunder, and Focus Blast), which I imagine we wouldn't really be using on something like Hone Claws unless we wanted to make a mixed sweeper, and Hypnosis, which I really don't think we want to make perfectly accurate, pretty much every relevant in the game is already going to be perfectly accurate, or very close to it, with only a single boost to our accuracy. Pretty much the only move that actually would make a noteworthy difference here would be Dynamic Punch, which would have an accuracy of 83% at +2 as opposed to 65% at +1. But even then, would the benefits of making a single physical attack on a sweeper more reliable (But still have a degree of unreliabilty) really be relevant as opposed to just using Swords Dance with any other ability?

The other big thing I really wanted to mention, which is sort of related, is that I really don't see how having one form essentially use Howl like it was Swords Dance really makes for an interesting route to take this concept. At the end of the day, Simple Howl is just Swords Dance under another name and Simple Dragon Dance is just Shell Smash that doesn't reduce your bulk, and in my opinion, it doesn't really look all that interesting when you look under it with that point of view. Power-Up Punch, which quizel brought up earlier, is one possible exception, but considering how Power-Up Punch on Mega Kangaskhan is pretty much just treated as "Swords Dance that has a bonus of dealing a bit of damage", I feel like it wouldn't really make us all that different from a standard set-up sweeper outside of not having fast taunt users being able to stop our chances of setting up (And even then, something like Dragapult or Zapdos very much could instead).
 

Zetalz

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Quick post because I don't have much time, just want to second spoo on Berserk and Stamina being included in the slate, not sure why they weren't before but it ain't a big deal. Particularly really into Stamina, there's some really interesting things we can mold out of it and I feel out of the "power" abilities we have available it can gel the best with the options we explore for the other form. Also want to throw in my hat for the lot of Simple, Download, and Tinted Lens as all having very fun design space we could get into.

Don't have much of an opinion on most of the other suggested abilities because I'm honestly hard neutral on most of them, but do want to shoutout Filter/Solid Rock, the performance of which this past week of Cap Ladder Tour by a cracked Necrozma squad devised by based lords SHSP, Scizivire (and also dex) has been honestly incredible and made me really interested in the kinds of different directions we could explore here. By far my favorite ability going forward right now.
 
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It is time. The Rattled / Steam Engine post to end all Rattled / Steam Engine posts.

These abilities are good and should be slated. Here’s why:

Purpose
There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what Rattled / Engine is supposed to do.
A common criticism is that, because they’re dependent on your opponent’s choices, their activation is inconsistent. Some compare them to Cotton Down or Weak Armor, and say “those abilities are better, because they activate more consistently”.

This misunderstands the purpose of these abilities.

The purpose of Rattled / Engine is NOT to try and fish for speed boosts.

The purpose of Rattled / Engine is to dissuade your opponent from clicking the moves that activate them.


An optimized Rattled / Engine user is a pokemon that is solid (if unremarkable) without its boost, but scary with it. It doesn’t necessarily expect to get the boost, but getting it would allow it to bypass its standard checks.

The potential to be threatening is what makes these abilities useful. The opponent wants to avoid activating their effects, and so merely having a Rattled / Engine user on your team, who you can switch to at any time, dissuades them from clicking moves they may otherwise want to click. Even if Rattled / Engine never proc their speed boosts, they still have influenced the match by placing pressure on the foe’s decisionmaking.

It’s this ambient pressure that makes Cotton Down and Weak Armor incomparable to Rattled / Engine. Because Cotton / Armor’s effects activate so easily, they can’t apply any pressure; their effects may as well be considered always active. This makes them significantly less dynamic, and imo less interesting.


Also, have you ever correctly predicted a foe’s attack and switched into a resist? If so, congratulations, you have done all it takes to activate Rattled / Engine. Predicting your opponent’s actions, and responding accordingly, is like 70% of the game.

The “inconsistent” activation of Rattled / Engine is precisely the appeal. Rather than a flat, static buff, it’s a reward conditional on outplaying your opponent. It’s much more satisfying to lose because your foe played better than you, than it is to lose because they just had better mons

This “inconsistency” also gives a huge amount of breathing room with implementation, because it requires a user that is basically competent without the boost. A Weak Armor user’s only possible game plan is “proc Weak Armor and try to sweep”. Nobody really knows how Cotton Down will play out, but it’s certain that the -1 speed and need to eat hits will be front and center for the whole process. A Rattled / Engine user, by comparison, can be virtually anything that would appreciate an occasional boost in speed.



Rattled Overtargeting the Meta
Some worry that Rattled is only seeing popularity because it implicitly targets Ghost and Dark types, which are currently starved for switchins, and :dragapult:, the best pokemon in the game. The worry is, by overfocusing on what happens to be meta-relevant at this exact point in time, we’ll create a final product that risks immediately fading into obscurity the instant the meta changes.

This concern is overblown.

U-Turn and Knock Off are two of the most commonly used moves in the entire game, no matter the format, and have been for several generations now. Barring some extreme nerfs or cuts we can’t possibly foresee, this isn’t going to change. Users of these moves will always be here, even if the exact mons that run them won’t.
The same is true for Intimidate, but to a lesser extent.

Ghost is much more inconsistent in its viability, with :dragapult: being the only current notable user of it. While this may appear to lend some credence to the “over-targeting” complaint, the fact that Rattled can activate on so much more than Ghost means that, like, we don’t have to specifically target Pult if we don’t want to.
The same is generally true for Bug / Dark moves that aren’t U-Turn / Knock Off.

I also worry that overweighting the future-proofing concern can lead to a weird backwards logic, where we avoid certain traits *because* they happen to target something currently relevant. This is obviously ridiculous. This entire issue can be resolved by simply zooming out and calibrating towards general archetypes, rather than tunnel-visioning on interactions with specific mons.


Activating Steam Engine
Steam Engine’s boost is much more powerful than Rattled’s, so it makes sense that it is harder to activate. But some worry that the ability takes this too far, and that Water and Fire moves are too rare for Steam Engine to reliably have the chance to activate.

I think this is true for Water, which barely sees any use outside of Scald. But to say that about Fire, I have to wonder if we’re even playing the same game.

Unlike Water, Dark, or Bug, Fire has no single ubiquitous utility move. However, Fire is one of the most coveted offensive coverage typings in the game, in the same tier as Fighting and Ground. Almost everything that gets a half-decent Fire move will have a set that runs it.

Looking at the OU suite of Fire users, we have :clefable:, :dragapult:, :heatran:, :hydreigon:, :slowbro:, :slowking:, :slowking-galar:, :tornadus-therian:, :volcarona:, :zapdos:, :astrolotl:, :mollux:, and :volkraken:.
If we include mons that aren’t literally OU, but are still fairly viable in the tier, the list expands to include :blacephalon:, :blaziken:, :celesteela:, :hatterene:, :kommo-o:, :moltres:, :rotom-heat:, :togekiss:, :torkoal:, :venusaur:, :victini:, :volcanion:. And this isn’t even considering the rare tech fire moves run by mons like :garchomp:, :zeraora:, or :tomohawk:.

None of these mons are used on every team, and many of them don’t always run a fire move. But the probability that your opponent’s team will have no fire moves they’ll want to click is incredibly low.


Utility of Effect
Another concern is that the effect of activating Rattled / Engine won’t be strong enough to actually apply the deterrent pressure they’re supposed to.

This is more of a concern with Rattled’s modest +1 speed, which can still leave you vulnerable to, for example, enemy choice scarf users. Besides, if a Rattled user benefits too much from +1 speed, why wouldn’t it just hold a scarf?

Well, obviously, 30i can’t hold a scarf, since it’s locked to griseous orb. And 30i is naturally better-equipped to use Rattled, due to resisting Knock Off.

But even if Rattled was on 30b, benefitting from +1 speed doesn’t necessarily mean scarf is your item of choice. Scarf :urshifu-rapid-strike: outruns :hawlucha:, :tapu koko:, and :dragapult:, but it generally prefers to hold a choice band regardless. 30b could be similar.


Steam Engine’s +6 speed lets you outpace literally everything with trivial investment, so if speed has any utility at all, Steam Engine gets it.

But is any amount of speed valuable enough to be worth taking a hit for? After all, even if you now outspeed an offensive answer, that doesn’t help vs defensive answers who don’t care about speed.

First off, the ability to occasionally switch in and threaten out a mon that’d otherwise outpace 2HKO you, or prevent revenge-killers from forcing you out for free, shouldn’t be underestimated, even (or especially) if you can’t always do it. Speed is still speed.

Secondly, there’s no reason to expect that 30 would always be cleanly shut down by a defensive answer. Maybe it has the setup or raw firepower to punch through them, maybe it can bypass them with utility like Substitute or Taunt. On a game-by-game basis, maybe it can be cleanly shut down, but not if the switchin has taken prior chip. Or, maybe the speed boost doesn’t guarantee a game end, but does shift momentum in 30’s team’s favor.

But finally, and most importantly, it’s absurd to think any matchup is or need be binary win-or-lose. These abilities aren’t made worthless just because they can’t always unabiguously shift the game in your favor as a direct result of their effect. Competitive pokemon is a lot more nuanced than that, which is why we all still play it.



Conclusion
Rattled / Steam Engine are good and should be slated.

Given their similar utilities, only one of the two need to be slated; I have no preference for which.

If an existing option needs to be replaced, they should replace Cotton Down - though I’d argue the practical utilites of CD and R/E are different enough to justify including both.
 
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Rabia

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rattled is awful and the idea of trying to dissuade knock/uturn is pretty weak because if im trying to pivot i truly do not care if you get a speed boost. it does not prevent me from bringing in my wall and denying you any form of happiness or satisfaction. similarly i will still spam knock off for an entire game regardless of if you have a mon with rattled; it really is not a big deal to me if you keep bringing it in. these moves are legit some of the most clickable moves in existence even in matchups where their effectiveness may seem otherwise limited; a terrible ability is not gonna be made good no matter how much work goes into optimizing it because the moves you're trying to exploit are some of the hardest moves in the game to actually be punished in this gen, knock off especially w/ the removal of z-crystals.

i also just genuinely am fearful that this is another case of people just being annoyed at certain aspects of the meta and wanting some random solution to be made. this is an awful philosophy to go in with as we've seen numerous times with capmons. trying to fix the metagame or directly beat it doesn't work because metagames constantly evolve. i dont want to see another miasmaw.

steam engine can be cool but some of the examples you listed Brian Geniouse aren't rly consistent w/ the metagame. clef/pult/hydrei seldom run fire coverage nowadays, slowking/slowbro never did, and there are just a lot of mons you gave that, to be frank, suck or are pretty fringe/uncommon overall. if we're talkin common mons that commonly run fire coverage it'd be more like:

:heatran::tornadus-therian::garchomp::zapdos::slowking-galar::volcarona::blacephalon:

obv as stated there exist other options that are fringe viable/on specific archetypes, but optimizing around an ability that realistically is gonna have minimal use (I left out water moves because in the above post they were too) is sorta bleh in my eyes
 
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MrDollSteak

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I don't have much to argue or disagree with on the slate, perhaps apart from Filter/Solid Rock that have technically seen optimisation in the ubers tier with Dusk Mane Solgaleo, and the fact that while Rhyperior is arguably a terrible user of Solid Rock, has had its stints in OU in either case. That said I think keeping it is probably fine but I do think that the slate could definitely benefit from a few more inclusions that have been discussed considering the broad debates over eligibility.

The main ability that I'd like to argue in favour of is one that unfortunately has not received a lot of discussion, partially because it was never really factored or slotted in to existing categories and that is Competitive.

In comparison to some of the existing stat manipulation options that have either been slated or discussed to death such as Cotton Down, Berserk, Mirror Armor and Rattled, Competitive while not always as consistent to trigger on average is incredibly explosive and potent as we have seen from its few viable users in lower tiers such as Milotic who can change roles at the drop of a hat. As for eligibility, Competitive is an ability that has never really been explored in OU or CAP to a major extent, despite on the surface being an effective anti-Defog and anti-Intimidate option to a large extent because of the issues surrounding its users' offenses and speed more than anything else.

It's an ability that I think is really quite perfect for us to optimise in that it is geared towards a few reliable trends in the current metagame and frankly I'm a bit surprised there was more discussion over abilities such as Mirror Armor that effectively target the same things but much worse. It's one that doesn't necessitate an item forme either which provides a great deal of flexibility, and is one that I think will provide interesting discussions in both the typing and movepool stages. There are a lot of ways it can be designed, and a lot of viable routes.

Finally, Rattled is an ability that has obviously received a ton of discussion and I don't have all that much more to add apart from the fact that I support it, and I think a lot of the concerns about the effectiveness of the ability sell us as a project short by not accounting for the wide range of ways that we can build CAP30 to make use of it, although I do admit it is an ability that does have potential to focus in on specific targets like Miasmaw and arguably Chromera did which has impacted their overall viability. While I agree with the argument that Rattled isn't always the most effective anti U-Turn move because defensive checks can still be brought in, this argument generally fails to take into account is that depending on the speed boost, offensive Pokemon that would normally beat CAP 30 cannot be brought in either as they will be outsped and threatened. While switching to a defensive Pokemon on paper makes Rattled ineffective, it still is something that could become a bit of a momentum sink depending on what CAP30 can do to threaten it (such as boosting) or is paired with. Discouraging frail fast Pokemon such as Dragapult, Zeraora or Tornadus from coming in, especially considering they can contribute to the U-Turn, Volt Switch train to gain momentum while subtle, is still quite worthy of exploration in my opinion.
 
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I'd like to make one final argument in defense of Merciless. While I will concede the points made that Poison may not be an easy condition to set or maintain, but I feel like the benefit of guaranteed crits is being underestimated. Critical hits multiply an attack's damage by 1.5, and this is after STAB and Type Effectiveness. And this isn't every once in a while, like crits usually are. This is every single hit against a Poisoned foe. Which means, in effect, Merciless should really be viewed through the same lens as Abilities like Tough Claws or Strong Jaw, but without the restriction of only applying to a certain kind of Move. But unlike those Abilities, Merciless can be targeted against a specific enemy Mon. In other words, you wouldn't use Merciless to remove a threat to CAP 30 so much as you would a threat to your team. It's a fairly interesting and, I think, unexplored niche: a dedicated "assassin", which identifies and eliminates targets without worrying about straight buffs/debuffs. Even if the target pivots out, it will still be Poisoned, and unless the enemy has a way to remove that poisoning, they will have to spend the rest of the match worrying about eating another guaranteed crit when they switch that mon in. Merciless, as others have said, isn't necessarily an Ability about raw damage, or breaking through a tough wall, or anything like that. It's about pressure, about giving the opponent one more thing to think about, one more variable to contend with.

I don't know if that was a convincing argument at all. I just haven't been able to participate in this discussion as much as I would've liked, and wanted to try to get my point across before it ended.
 

Brambane

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I think the proposed slate is quite solid, and if anything were to be added to it I would like to see Download. I don't really need to reiterate what spoo said nicely in their post. The ability offers some pretty nice design space and encourages a unique form of counterplay in altering stat spreads specifically to counter Download boosting, which is remarkably unique.

In terms of Berserk and Stamina, I am not super engaged with either of them. Of the two, I think Stamina is the more interesting in terms of what directions it can go. Berserk is a cool ability and all, but improving it upon what has already been done really comes down to manipulating recovery in some way. While there are different ways you can go about that, Stamina wants to explore that space as well, but imo it has more interesting routes with seeing it on a fast Pokemon or even a Pokemon with more limited recovery, but capitalizes on switching in on weak moves and using the Defense boost to set-up or prevent revenge killing. The two seem somewhat similar in the "optimize passive stat increasing" (really generalizing here), but of them I like Stamina more.

If we are going to pick an ability that focuses on the opponent activating it for us, I would rather see Competitive over any of the others like Rattled or Steam Engine. While Rattled and to much lesser extent Steam Engine will probably be relevant in the future as well since Knock Off, U-Turn, Scald, and Fire-type coverage have proven themselves for many generations now, Competitive focuses on really only two things reliably: Intimidate and Defog. But the hazard game in CAP is so stacked with our additional Spiking and removal options that I think an ability to specifically responds to Defog is interesting, especially since Weavile and Blacephalon rising means multi-removal teams have a place in the metagame. This is a very targeted ability for sure, but of all the abilities listed in this thread, this is also the one I would be most curious to see IF it can remain relevant in the future. Realistically the only Pokemon that has even come close is Bisharp, and there is a lot more room to explore with that kind of team presence.
 
I do agree with Quziel that Shed Skin is really cool. Imagine a Chromera type setup sweeper, or a bulky support mon, that can be saved from being forced off the field by Toxic, or have the potential to bounce back after having their attack neutered by burn. While it obviously has a strong element of chance, that chance still raises multiple pathways we could explore. What ways can we maximize the chance of being freed from status? What roles can we accomplish while not caring about status for a few turns? How much does this ease our ability to switch into a wide variety of status-inducing moves?
 
I want to back up Spoo and say, that stamina should be slated. It got a fair amount of positive discussion and is an interesting if slightly mild ability, that could make for a cool product.

I am definitely against slating Download as it arguably was optimized on Genesect, which while not in the Meta atm, showed how versatile and strong Download is on a competent user.

I am on a similar stance on Berserk, as I feel like Goltres already does a lot to play with berserk. It forces the opponent to react, because of the threat of setting up and benefits from procuring the Berserk boost. The only thing it really misses is reliable recovery and I am not entirely sure, that we would be able to balance a similar mon around that, knowing how terrifying goltres is in Dmax metas with the ability to run rest.

I also want to throw in my 2c on the topic of rattled.
I have sympathy for Rabias argument, that Rattled has the potential for a fix the meta situation, that I too want to avoid.
I do think though, that it’s applications are broad enough, that we can avoid this situation or at least reduce it to a small part of the project execution.

I agree with Brian though, that Rattled in fact is probably one of the most futureproof abilities, bc the relevance of Knock Off, Uturn and intimidate users is very unlikely to dwindle down unless they are cut.
It’s something, that Rabia basically backs up in saying, that these moves never changed in relevance in any past meta.
This means, the ability is somewhat meta agnostic and less likely to create a failed product, if we overtarget common meta threats atm.
That said, I think the argument, that rattleds best application is deterring the opponent from using these moves/abilities is hollow. Rabia is correct, that no matter what unfavorable circumstances, these moves and abilities will be used in any given game, bc they are just so universally useful.
For me this means, we should not focus on being a deterrent to these moves, rather than exploiting the effect of the ability, which will be reliably triggered in a lot of games.
I think there is a lot of space for exploration there, just bc the moves are so widespread, which gives us a lot of different ways to make the most of the ability.

During this stage we’ve talked a lot about how speed control through abilities might or might not be useful, but I think, in the case of rattled the biggest pro is its ability to turn around the momentum of a game even on such unfavorable moves as knock or uturn.
Coming in on a uturn means, that instead of maybe bringing in a fast breaker, the opponent has to fall back to a defensive mon, which can end up breaking volt turn spam and stopping high tempo plays on the opponents side, which then can be used to bring in mons that need room to breathe to do their job (think hazard control, cleric support, wall breakers or set up sweepers).
likewise Absorbing a knock, means the potential to outspeed an opposing fastmon and forcing it out, affording the team time to use hazards etc.
additionally a slowish set up sweeper, like say rilla, could be able to abuse weak knocks from defensive mons, that it is able to break and be terrifying with the additional speed boost, as it now suavely can set up a SD or NP without worrying about the opponent making the read and bringing in a faster mon during the set up turn, that can force it out, without having done anything.

TLDR Rattled is fine to be explored has the potential to be the most „futureproof“ and meta agnostic of all slated abilities, with the exception of Tinted Lens and has interesting design possibilities, just don’t make a fix the meta mon out of it.
 
A bit late to the discussion, but I am very confused by the decision to slot Poison Touch and not Merciless. Poison Touch is a haxx-y gimmick that improves a lot of moves, yes, but it is countered by everything that counters toxic. Which is one of the complaints brought up on merciless. Not to mention that 30% isn't a very big proc chance for basic poison; this isn't like scald where it can cripple offenses or toxic where it gets stronger over time. It's just extra damage, and only decent as far as chip damage gets.

Yes, Merciless takes Poison and makes it more threatening, while poison already makes people want to switch. But... why is that a bad thing? I see this like saying "Set up moves aren't worth using if you already are a threat without them". There is nothing wrong with being extra good at the niche you fill.

Frankly, a Merciless 'mon would be interesting and have a unique playstyle and threat type. A poison touch mon is just a physical attacker with slightly higher attack stats, but with extra steps involved.
 

dex

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I'll make one last post in this thread but Cotton Down should be removed from the slate. I've already detailed why I think Cotton Down is such an inconsistent ability that it should be left off the slate, but the playstyle it requires in order to truly take advantage of what Cotton Down does is not sustainable. Because Cotton Down procs on hit, and its effect mainly deters offensive mons, we will get one of two results: CAP 30 is either hard switching into offensive mons or it is getting pivoted in. There are issues with both possibilities.
The obvious issue with designing CAP 30 to hard swap into offensive mons is that there is such variability in what teams run that it just isn't feasible for Cotton Down to even be that strong. Furthermore, this requires the mon to be switching into choiced-attackers multiple times in a game, something only the bulkiest of mons can do repeatedly. I don't see this as a feasible way to continue the process.
The issue with the second option is that not only does it rely on prediction and is situational, but it runs into the same issue where CAP 30 is going to need to cover for more than it could ever hope to possibly deal with.
I don't think Cotton Down is worth slating as the utility it provides, in practice, is essentially nonexistent outside of suiciding a setup sweeper.
 
I'd like to make one final argument in defense of Merciless. While I will concede the points made that Poison may not be an easy condition to set or maintain, but I feel like the benefit of guaranteed crits is being underestimated. Critical hits multiply an attack's damage by 1.5, and this is after STAB and Type Effectiveness. And this isn't every once in a while, like crits usually are. This is every single hit against a Poisoned foe. Which means, in effect, Merciless should really be viewed through the same lens as Abilities like Tough Claws or Strong Jaw, but without the restriction of only applying to a certain kind of Move. But unlike those Abilities, Merciless can be targeted against a specific enemy Mon. In other words, you wouldn't use Merciless to remove a threat to CAP 30 so much as you would a threat to your team. It's a fairly interesting and, I think, unexplored niche: a dedicated "assassin", which identifies and eliminates targets without worrying about straight buffs/debuffs. Even if the target pivots out, it will still be Poisoned, and unless the enemy has a way to remove that poisoning, they will have to spend the rest of the match worrying about eating another guaranteed crit when they switch that mon in. Merciless, as others have said, isn't necessarily an Ability about raw damage, or breaking through a tough wall, or anything like that. It's about pressure, about giving the opponent one more thing to think about, one more variable to contend with.

I don't know if that was a convincing argument at all. I just haven't been able to participate in this discussion as much as I would've liked, and wanted to try to get my point across before it ended.
I could not agree more with the points your making. I think the points against Merciless are being overstated, and it's not exceedingly difficult to spread toxic and "mark" a Pokemon for guaranteed crits. It's not entirely meant to break through would be checks and counters, its meant to mount pressure against them switching in on CAP 30. As stated, we can work with typing for what STABs could benefit from a crit boost (perhaps an underrated offensive typing), which ones giving an interesting mix of checks and counters (or even further, which types could even threaten poison-immune Pokemon), be able to pressure and/or break through bulky set-up sweepers, etc. It's clear Merciless has a pretty reasonable amount of community support in comparison to some of the other abilities, and I believe it is more than fair to allow the community to vote on it at the very least. I think it would be a great playstyle that has been extremely underexplored, and I think optimizing its core mechanics would make for an enriching CAP process. It's a great fit for Pip's concept for an ability that could really use optimization.

Aside from that, I do not like the sound of Berserk just like I don't like Technician or Download. They are abilities that have been optimized. Cotton Down/Stamina I'd be okay* with, but I feel like it could become underwhelming. Rattled I feel is a bit situational/could fall out of favor in future metagames, and the same goes for Water Compaction/Steam Engine (although Steam Engine I'm a little warmer to, pun intended). Other than that, I am a fan of Tinted Lens and Simple. Shed Skin I'm more or less neutral on.

Edit: to touch on one of the specific points that Zeph and Pip have made, yes HDB is in right now meta-wise. So is Knock Off, and perhaps common HDB users (Dragapult and Slowtwins to name a couple; a complete coincidence while writing this but all of them hate Knock Off) may not be the primary targets for CAP 30. Tapu Fini is also in right now, yea, but what about if it falls out of favor? What about team support from other terrain setters to eliminate MIsty Terrain (such as Rilla or Tapu Koko, both of which can also threaten Fini)? These elements are not extraneous to include as team support, and it certainly does not restrict the metagame and options. All of these metagame elements are also "in," just like Tapu Fini is. The same is true for toxic spread through t-spikes or through mons such as Swampert, Heatran, Arghonaut, Garchomp, and Toxapex to name only a few. Team support is not a scary concept, and it shouldn't make people fearful of Merciless being too one-dimensional or limiting--it's not. Benefitting from team support is not a bad thing, its a lot like building around for Chromera when it can no longer stay in after a bad CC or breaking down checks for a sweep. It needs team support to become a threatening enough late-game sweeper (and there are plenty of other examples, this is only one that came to mind). Team support doesn't make Merciless an innately weak ability vice versa. We have the ability to optimize what is already a great ability in theory. Again, it isn't insanely difficult to spread toxic, and "marking" a Pokemon for crits if it comes in on CAP 30 adds pressure.
 
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Bit last-minute but I would like to share thoughts on Stamina and Berserk.

Stamina feels like an easy slate to me, the effect is going to be activated and relevant in a match quite reliably and should be pretty flexible in terms of usage. A Pokemon that becomes progressively harder to KO the more you attack it (at least on the physical side) has obvious defensive application but there is room to be more offensive, using the added Defense boost to help stay in. This could be achieved practically through coming in on weaker support moves like U-Turn, Rapid Spin, and Knock Off (moreso for 30i potentially) or simply through natural bulk and resistances. It's sort of this reverse Intimidate where instead of softening physical attacks from one Pokemon you soften subsequent physical attacks from most Pokemon. Getting early procs of Stamina on moves we eat up or using it to turn 2HKOs into 3HKOs would help limit our offensive checks and pressures, opening a lot more doors across multiple matchups.

Berserk does not stand out as much to me, it's definitely not a bad ability as HP manipulation is plentiful between moves and items. Galarian Moltres isn't awful but its lack of moves which interact with Berserk is really disappointing. Part of me just feels it defines a bit too much of our kit early on. Even something like Poison Touch which only works of contact moves could still fit on a weaker utility mon if we gave it contact-based support moves. Berserk implies we are a Special Attacker in some fashion and I'm not sure how much we want that knowledge to constrain ourselves during these first stages. Might be cool later down the line but not at this moment.
 
I really like Simple. It's going to be a bit of a worry in how to keep it activated with Toxapex and Tomohawk, and other PseudoHazing like Arghonaut running around. I'm a little concerned that the prescence of these mons, in particular that Psychic, Electricity and Ground overly proscribe the typing consideration, or we just flat out hold up hands and say that Haze and haze mons defeat us and we shouldnt attempt to counter them.

I do think this is perhaps the perfect opportunity to showcase it, where it's not going to be compared to 'why not attack twice while Choice Banded'? The argument could be that it should be able to stand up on its own behalf even if the item slot is free.

That said, I do really like its interaction with some of the odder stat boosting boosting moves that exist, and what role compression that can provide in regards to secondary effect spreading, or what effect Accuracy Stacking can have when you are also getting a Swords Dance boost in at the same time. If this is chosen, it seems like it could be a potential mixed attacker, and therefore what lessons could be learned from Naviathan.

Rather than trying to work out of a 4MSS with TWave/Wisp and damage on the same set or otherwise account for it Simple allows CAP30 to deal damage (and not an insigignificant amount like Nuzzle) so cant be Taunt blocked, isnt locked into Choice. Anything being put in to counter either of those moves would have to be sure of it: and that puts the threat of the prediction onto the defender: do they risk the 83% accuracy, or do they switch into say something like A-Marowak (which resists fire/absorbs burn, para and electric), and then risk getting counter predicted with +2 Knock Off, or do they go for something like Lando predicting a Knock Off or Zap, but then getting burned, or similarly, Flash fire Heatran getting Paralyzed. Or potentially, there could be something else in store: Growth/Sun abusing with Beam/Blade, being able to empower Rollout to 100% Accuracy, and with a SD at the same time...

Endless is perhaps overstating it, but even without thinking of stupidly OP things like Simple Tailglow, the variety of moves and interactions that can come from Simple is effectively 'build enabling' and personally, very interesting.

Simple, and Merciless are my two most favoured option currently.
 
Gonna jump in at the end and give my brief thoughts.

These probably aren't going to get slated but I thought I'd give them one last plug anyway.

Wandering Spirit: This is a cool ability guys. It's not Mummy or NGas or Trace. You STEAL their ability and give them a useless one. The opponent switching out does reset their ability, but it doesn't reset ours. So if we steal Regen, we get to keep it when we switch out. Yes, it probably railroads us into a special attacker given we don't want to be making contact with the opponent. Yes, we'll need Phys Def because it only procs off contact moves. Beyond that, I think the design space is open enough to be creative.

Competitive: Brambane said a lot of what I would have said anyway. I will only differ from them in saying that while I think Competitive will largely be used to deter Defog and Intimidate, I think the threat of an accidental Moonblast or Shadow Ball drop is also relevant. Due to the immediate power boost off a Competitive proc, I believe it will be a stronger deterrent most of the time than something like Rattled. I would also argue stopping Defog is a greater boon than stopping Knock Off most of the time.

Stamina & Berserk: These should be slated for reasons that others have already explained better than I could.

Slated abilities:

Tinted Lens: I'm still not sold on this. I still believe we're just gonna spend more time figuring out how to not make this mon broken, vs trying to optimize a unique ability. I like the idea of approaching it from a moveslot compression standpoint, but even then all we have to do is find a type that has not a lot of 4x resists and no immunities, and give it STAB on it. I do agree that there are a few routes we can take this, but personally I don't find "mediocre offensive typing now good" to be more interesting than some of the other abilities considered.

Filter/Solid Rock: These I have come around to a little, but I still feel they just do a job that we could accomplish in the stats stage. This on its own isn't a problem, but given this is an ability-focused concept, there's a bunch of other abilities we're considering that do weird, cool shit that you absolutely cannot replicate in any other stage. I would rather we try to optimize one of those.

Cotton Down: Uhhhh... on the fence about this one. Initially I thought it was super cool and almost overpowered, then I thought it was too easy to play around to be effective, and now I'm somewhere in the middle. I definitely think this should be slated though, and I'm confident we can make it work if it's selected.

Poison Touch: Also have come around to this one a little. I see the value in poisoning stuff, and I think a Poison Touch mon would be useful to keep the pressure on the opponent, and force decisions regarding which mons to risk the poison on. Team support is very valuable, given this mon isn't going to poison the whole team, but just keep forcing in the designated check/counter. Poisoning this check/counter for a teammate is very useful.

Simple: This could be cool with stuff like Curse or Charge Beam. But overall, I think this ability would be better suited for a 1-mon process, where we wouldn't need to tiptoe around Simple while designing the other mon, especially in regards to movepool.

Rattled: Seems fine, don't mind it. Seems like it could be a little weak though, and may end up doing nothing a lot of the time unless the mon has immediate offensive threat via stats or threat of set-up. I think this specifically targets Knock Off users, given that U-turn users can just go to a check and Pult is basically the only Ghost move user.

Steam Engine: More of a chance this doesn't get activated, but scarier when it does. Again, will need some kind of offensive threat. Too situational for me. We could make it work though.

Mirror Armor: I think this is even more situational than the above two. Surprised to see this mentioned but not Competitive, which I think makes much better use of the same triggering effect, and can actually do something about Defog.

Merciless: I tend to think of this is the same boat as Poison Touch, in that it works best with team support. Except in this case, Merciless mon is on the receiving end rather than the set-up end, unlike Poison Touch. This makes it seem more passive, and like it's less likely to do stuff. This may be true, but it's a useful mon to have to apply pressure, regardless. You're gonna wanna avoid being poisoned as much as possible if you see the Merciless mon in the back.
 
I'd like to make a last minute case for Mold Breaker. since this ability can ignore the effects of many other abilities, it can have the unique effect of being a offensive support hybrid that can pressure pokemon in the metagame with attacks they'd usually not worry about. Many pokemon in the metagame rely on abilities that Mold Breaker can nullify, such as Dragonite Heatran, Zeraora, Arghonaut and Cawmodore, and the variety of pokemon with different roles it can respond to makes for a pokemon that can have a powerfully unique role in the meta without being too overpowering. While Excadrill has used Mold Breaker in OU, it's only use for the move has been to scare out levitating pokemon such as Rotom-W, and as such doesn't really match the potential scope this ability can hit and mess with, so I feel it does not invalidate mold breakers availability on the slate.
 
I'd like to make a last minute case for Mold Breaker. since this ability can ignore the effects of many other abilities, it can have the unique effect of being a offensive support hybrid that can pressure pokemon in the metagame with attacks they'd usually not worry about. Many pokemon in the metagame rely on abilities that Mold Breaker can nullify, such as Dragonite Heatran, Zeraora, Arghonaut and Cawmodore, and the variety of pokemon with different roles it can respond to makes for a pokemon that can have a powerfully unique role in the meta without being too overpowering. While Excadrill has used Mold Breaker in OU, it's only use for the move has been to scare out levitating pokemon such as Rotom-W, and as such doesn't really match the potential scope this ability can hit and mess with, so I feel it does not invalidate mold breakers availability on the slate.
The problem is it’s optimized. Excadrill, Kyurem-B, in a way Weezing, etc. it’s proven to be an ability that can thrive in the OU/CAP environment, so I feel like it wouldn’t be a good fit with the concept.
 

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mold breaker isn't very convincing to me for the same examples Dece1t gave; even if you wanna argue that Excadrill benefits in a very small way, we've generally seen a lot of ways that Mold Breaker can function for great success, i.e. Mold Breaker to force hazards up against Magic Bounce Pokemon (Excadrill vs Mega Sableye/Mega Diancie, or hell an NU example Druddigon vs Xatu), ignoring Levitate to hit Rotom-W with Earthquake/Earth Power, and maybe others I'm forgetting. maybe there's something to say about having something that does more than just function as a suicide lead or ignore an ability to hit a check with a hard-hitting move, but I'm sort of at a loss at what more there is to explore here
 

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Alright everyone, after what's been a wealth of discussion after the preliminary slate got posted, I think it's time to post the finalized slate. You'll notice a few significant changes from the preliminary slate, however I think this is much improved and more in accordance with the general discussion in the past few days.
  • Download: There's a solid amount of room to explore this without making an overpowered mon. This ability would allow for a fairly intriguing stats stage, especially with regards to balancing physical vs special biases and their level of effectiveness against various threats in the meta. Its potential to fulfill various functions within a team means that the remainder of the process can be unimpeded by its selection with regards to the roles this mon fulfills and the playstyles it can most effectively fit.
  • Filter: As was stated on the preliminary slate, Filter's boosts to our defenses can be used to bolster a fairly wide variety of playstyles. As was shown by mons like Necrozma, the damage reduction afforded by Filter can be highly effective in supporting offensive sets, while Filter's inherent qualities are highly beneficial to defensive sets. There's a solid number of routes we can take with this ability, and a general reduction to super-effective damage gives us a good bit of room to work with regardless of which role we choose to fulfill.
  • Poison Touch: There's a good bit of design space that can be used with regards to buffing already potent contact moves, while also adding a punishing factor to a good chunk of moves that might be underutilized otherwise. Standard poisoning as a status condition can be highly effective in terms of wearing down various checks and counters for either this mon or anything on the rest of the user's team, and the synergy it can provide for different breakers and sweepers allows this mon to generally have an opportunity to be effective in any game.
  • Simple: The way Simple affects a movepool gives us a ton of room to work with in order to bolster one form's offensive strategies while also not necessarily impacting how the other form operates. There are a good few boosting moves that have been incredibly under-explored, and the opportunity to do so while not impeding upon our other form can lead to some very interesting discussions.
  • Stamina: Although the boost this ability gives to our physical defense might suggest one particular route, the general addition to our bulk and the wide variety of moves that trigger this effect allot us a decent bit of room to fulfill the concept. With physical hits being generally good in the meta there's a lot to be gained from this ability, without necessarily targeting any specific mon. The potential to be highly flexible in our actualization of the concept with Stamina would be beneficial to both an enjoyable process and an effective mon upon final release.
  • Tinted Lens: To again repeat from the preliminary slate, being able to break through would-be checks and counters on the basis of typing alone allots us a good bit of room to explore typing/move combinations that have yet to prove themselves effective in the meta. Compressing moveslots on a defensive mon is also a really intriguing route to take, so our role isn't necessarily defined on the basis of ability alone.
As you may have noticed, there are a few heavily discussed abilities that didn't quite make the slate. I'd like to briefly discuss them here.
  • Cotton Down: Despite this ability making the preliminary slate, there's been a solid amount of valid argumentation against it. As was the issue with Rattled, a single drop in a speed stage isn't necessarily the most effective method for deterring sweepers, especially when you look at mons like Victini spamming V-Create to break through teams while simultaneously lowering its own speed. Additionally, the argument that you can use a Cotton Down mon to prevent a sweep from a mon such as Cawmodore seems kind of moot, simply because using our mon as a sack rather than something that functions well on its own seems like a waste of a process.
  • Rattled: I think I summed up my position on this fairly well in my last post, so I feel no need to expand upon it.
  • Berserk: A single boost to our special attack seems fairly mediocre at best. Although we can expand upon this by adding recovery to our movepool, this seems to be a pretty haphazard way to raise our special attack while still giving a good bit of control to the opponent.
  • Merciless: To repeat from my last post, it seems to be fairly one-dimensional and risks greatly depleting effective methods of counterplay. It also seems fairly restrictive on the rest of the process in terms of the typing and movepool stages.
Our fearless leader Wulfanator will be making a post wrapping up this stage, then I look forward to seeing how the poll goes!
 
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