Clarifying and Laying Groundwork for Policy Surrounding Non-Pokémon Bans and Complex Clauses


(citation needed)
is a Smogon Discord Contributoris a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
With the recent banning of Baton Pass in UU combined with a personal distaste for the slow increase in the rate by which things like this get seriously considered, it feels like as good a time as any to look at this.

There has been a pretty dramatic shift with regards to the way that bans have been handled over the past two generations, and with the recent banning of Baton Pass combined with the fact that SM's release is literally on top of us it is necessary for us to iron out this as soon as possible. As far as I am aware, the mindset surrounding this is has shifted around as follows (please correct me if there is anything wrong here, as some things--especially BW points--are just based on things that I've read in passing in the past):
Start of BW: Moves and abilities are not banned unless they are broken/uncompetitive on all users; no complex clauses; items are not banned unless they are broken/uncompetitive on all users

Mid BW: Same as previous, but now 2-part complex bans are tolerated, as shown with Alderon's proposal, and they do not need to be consistent with other policy (Excadrill was banned but DrizzleSwim was introduced to preserve otherwise-broken Swift Swim users (Kingdra, Kabutops, Ludicolo))

Some point in XY: Same as previous, but single-stage complex clauses are tolerated if they are consistent with one another (evidenced by them extending Alderon's proposal to all weathers due to Venusaur being deemed broken)

Later on in XY or early ORAS: Same as previous, but stupidly complex clauses are tolerated now too (Endless Battle Clause, 3-part complex clause on Baton Pass (1 user on a team (I); no speed boosting move/ability/item alongside Baton Pass (II) but only if it is also alongside a method of boosting another stat (III))

Some point in ORAS: Same as previous, but abilities which are not broken on absolutely all users can also be banned now (Shadow Tag in OU, Sand Veil/Snow Cloak in DP)

Most recent: Same as previous, but now banning moves which are not broken/uncompetitive on all of their users is apparently a thing now too (Baton Pass in UU)

Quite frankly, I think that the way policy has been handled over the past two generations gotten progressively worse, and as far as I can tell this all traces back to radical proposals within tiering policy which have been passed creating precedent for both non-Pokémon bans and increasingly complex clauses--with the former just kinda creating its own precedent at some point and the latter pretty decisively tracing back to Alderon's proposal--and it has led to both inconsistencies within policy and, in some cases, outright contradictions within policy (see: Excadrill being banned while DrizzleSwim gets special treatment until quite a long time after the launch of gen 6; endless battle clause's entire existence (why are Tag and BP banned for being broken on some users but not Leppa Berry and Heal Pulse which are in the same boat?)). This is a trend which either needs to outright stop (litearlly all of these barring endless battles can be solved with Pokémon bans*) or needs clarification with regards to how to consistently apply it.

Anyway, I'm now going to state my opinion on the matter. If you have alternate proposals or anything just post them itt, as this thread isn't aiming to decide whether my proposal is good or whether my opinion is at all shared so much as it is just trying to clear up the whole deal so that there is a much more consistent floor on which future suspect discussions to take place on.

In my opinion, banning Pokémon should always take priority over banning non-Pokémon elements or the formation of complex clauses in cases where not all users are broken. This means that, for example, Moody and Swagger would be banned (they have proven to be uncompetitive on all usersof the move/ability) while Weather ability+WeatherSpeed ability, Baton Pass or Shadow Tag are not--with prominent WeatherSpeeders, prominent stat passers and Gothitelle being banned instead. In cases where it is not possible for any number of individual Pokémon to be deemed the broad issue with a strategy (e.g. endless battle clause, where there is always a new user of the strategy who can replace the previously banned user), then the move/s, ability/ies and/or item/s that are necessary for all methods of execution being banned should take priority over the formation of a complex clause (continuing the endless battle example, Leppa Berry and Heal Pulse would be banned). If this is also impossible, then--and only then--should a complex clause be considered.

In addition to this, the argument regarding the number of Pokémon being banned should not even be a consideration imo because we should aim for all broken elements being removed regardless of how much time it takes/how many bans there are, and this is just further backed up by both a) how many hoops were jumped through for the preservation of Leppa Berry/Heal Pulse with endless battle clause, and b) how many hoops have been jumped through over the preservation of Baton Pass--both of which show the willingness of the site to dedicate large amounts of time and policy amendments towards banning sub-elements of one major problem.

Once again, if you disagree with anything here or want to pose an alternative proposal go ahead and post it. All that matters to me is for this thread to run its course and finish with a reasonable framework for structuring priorities when determining which elements need restriction (which currently does not exist imo).


is a Team Rater Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
Later on in XY or early ORAS: Same as previous, but stupidly complex clauses are tolerated now too (Endless Battle Clause, 3-part complex clause on Baton Pass (1 user on a team (I); no speed boosting move/ability/item alongside Baton Pass (II) but only if it is also alongside a method of boosting another stat (III))
This has been brought up before and seversl times in your post so I'd like to address it. Please, stop using endless battle clause as an example of a complex ban. It's nothing of the sort, it's a collection of minor restrictions that prevent an infinite battle as best as possible, and is absolutely irrelevant to the average player. If you aren't specifically trying to make an endless battle it doesn't matter. It's not a clause related to anything competitive, it just makes games more enjoyable by, yknow, not letting them last forever. It is not an example of a complex ban.


Not a Yuyuko fan
is a Site Content Manageris a Battle Simulator Administratoris a Programmeris a Pokemon Researcheris an Administrator
Creator of PS
The reason Endless Battle Clause is "complex" is because there are ways to cause endless battles without using Leppa Berry or Heal Pulse.

It's a lot easier to say "endless battles are against the rules" than banning a list of things that cause endless battles and hoping that you got all of them. The enforcement might be complicated, but the rule itself is very simple: don't cause endless battles.
Consider Scald, which was discussed as a possible suspect on the grounds of being uncompetitive.

Would you really want to ban every effective Pokemon in OU which uses Scald, when you could just ban the uncompetitive element itself?

To me, limiting collateral damage should always be taken into consideration. I agree that there's been some inconsistency in banning decisions, which needs to be addressed, but I don't think blindly adhering to a simplistic formula like "always ban the Pokemon" is the answer.

The Official Glyx

Banned deucer.
It's been a good two and a half years since this thread was last cared about, and I feel there is still debate to be had, especially with Z-moves dominating the game and the coming Dynamax metagame looming over our heads. Initially, I was going to make a separate thread, but I find that the points brought up by Martin are similar enough to what I need answers to, that a new thread would not be necessary, especially considering the lack of response to the main bulk of his initial post.

The two main questions I seek answers to are:
  1. Where the boundary for broken/uncompetitive/unhealthy non-Pokemon elements lies, such that a ban is warranted on any of the given "tools" of a Pokemon, rather than the users of said tools.
  2. When the entirety of an element demands action, rather than individual aspects of it; for example, all OHKO moves versus all evasion boosting elements (only Double Team and Minimize are banned) or all moves that induce confusion (only Swagger is banned, in some tiers); with regards to Z-moves, this also extends to the debate between banning all Z Crystals/moves versus only banning Z Crystals/moves or the users that are deemed broken/uncompetitive/unhealthy enough to warrant some kind of action.
Regarding my first question, I don't believe that we can viably use the rationale of "everything that gets it has to be broken/uncompetitive/unhealthy enough to be banworthy"; Double Team Dewpider simply just won't be breaking down teams anytime soon. With this in mind, we now have to consider how many Pokemon that learn a given move/have a given ability/etc have to become banworthy as a result of using that non-Pokemon element in order to ban said non-Pokemon element, instead of having a series of bans on all the individual banworthy users.

Personally, I believe that there are multiple factors that tie into deciding this:
  • We should always take the action with the least collateral and complexity.
    • e.g. banning Double Team and Minimize provides less collateral damage than banning dozens of Pokemon that would otherwise be completely fine in the metagame without them.
    • Conversely, we don't want to ban something like the combination of Blaziken + Speed Boost, even though it provides the least collateral damage, as that leads us down a slippery slope towards Deoxys-Defense without Recover or Primal Groudon with only Confide, with no end in sight. If a given element (Pokemon and otherwise) performs a role that is deemed broken/uncompetitive/unhealthy enough to become banworthy, that no other element can emulate to similar/banworthy efficiency, then that element should be banned.
  • The weight of influence of the non-Pokemon element is pivotal in determining whether it is the tool or the user that is the problem.
    • e.g. Sheer Cold Cubchoo places a lot more reliance on the use of the OHKO move for winning battles, rather than any other tools that Cubchoo has at its disposal, whereas Moody users need a setup of moves that deal with opponents, rather than placing their reliance solely on Moody. The same can be said for Drought in UU and lower tiers, where the advantage provided by Drought far outweighs anything else the individual Drought summoners can do.
In answering my first question, I believe that both of these ideas need to be considered. An element with limited users that use it to a banworthy extent often mandates that the users be banned. That said, if the weight of influence of the non-Pokemon element is to the extent that the problem can be mostly defined from the use of the non-Pokemon element, rather than the Pokemon themselves, then a case can be made for banning the non-Pokemon element, instead, so long as the ban of said element would not heavily impede upon other Pokemon that use it to non-banworthy extents.

With regards to my second question, I can only think of one viable way of determining when we should ban parts of a non-Pokemon element, as opposed to the entire concept of a non-Pokemon element, and that is by starting with an examination of the most banworthy element and progressively working our way down to the least banworthy, until there is nothing left that is problematic enough to merit a suspect or ban. This methodology lends to the idea that we should never blanket ban entire concepts unless they are mostly banworthy, meaning that most things that pertain to a certain category of moves/abilities/etc are banworthy (think OHKO moves) and that a majority of users of a certain element all become banworthy because of their use of said element (think Double Team/Minimize), with the latter being determined before the former.

In doing research for this, I wasn't able to find anything official that was definitive one way or the other. I believe it would be important to set some kind of standard guideline for these notions, so that the more extreme viewpoints such as "banning all RNG" or "banning all Z-moves" can no longer be seen as credible viewpoints, and agreements can be reached quicker.

If I missed anything substantial in my research or in my attempt at putting my thoughts together, be sure to point them out to me.

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 1, Guests: 0)