Discussion Gen 9 Substitution Rules Feedback Thread


heralds disaster.
is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributor
With new Substitution rules (found here) becoming live on June 1st UCT (approximately 11 hours after the time of this post, as per this patch post), we'd like to open this thread for collecting grievances, suggestions, grievances, comments, and grievances regarding these new rules.
  • Feel free to ask clarifying questions either here or in the Union Room, and also feel free to answer the questions of others in both threads.
  • Feel free to suggest clauses you feel are competitively necessary, along with an example of a situation that would not be navigable without it.
  • Feel free to suggest clauses you feel would be convenient shorthand, or close enough, for existing clauses or sets of clauses.
We don't make any promises to implement suggested clauses, but we'll say why we don't, if we don't.

Some over-arching goals for the new design of substitutions are:
  • Making the system Permissive: A clause is allowed only if it is specifically permitted. Old substitution rules were mired in grey areas, due to having many sweeping inclusions such as comparing "any inequality between properties of a Pokemon." Now, you may instead compare the listed properties, using the listed comparison methods.
  • Making the system Clear: The new substitutions are now more dense than prior versions, but hopefully are easier to use as a result (because there's more situations addressed specifically). That said, any suggestions for giving clarifying examples for rules, or suggestions for clearer phrasing of a rule, are welcome.
  • Easing anticipation: With a clearer knowledge of what substitutions are possible, it should now be more feasible for a player ordering second to plan around what substitutions they would like to use in the coming round. Likewise, it should be more feasible for opponents to plan around substitutions they might have to content with in that coming round.
  • Improving doubles+ substitutions: There's still a lot of work to be done to make subbing for multiple opponents more reasonable. Suggestions targeting these formats, especially when it comes to improving Pokemon placeholders (See 10.4a "Pokemon Placeholders"), are especially welcome.
Edit: Also we would very much like help with boiling down these large, dense rules into something digestable for the Beginner's Guide section of the handbook! And, preferably, into a correct summary of these rules!
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The main thing I think is missing from the current sub rules is a generic "modify future actions without changing the current action", which would be useful so that a faster pokemon can sub for weather changes or similar things using some variant of "IF Rain Dance AND NOT Rain Dance any future step, THEN Sandstorm next step" instead of needing to use a chance clause and having the opponent possibly cancel their weather.

It would also be useful to have relative step affixes for moves, so that you can sub for something like "IF Encore next step" or "IF Attack-boosting move last step" or similar clauses.

The last thing I would want as a clause is "push back substitution [list of sub priorities]" as a result clause. There have been multiple instances in the past where I've used a [Check at start of step 1] sub and had another sub to push that one back in the case of Protect, for example, and I would really like to keep that functionality around.
I'm not sure if this is intentional but I'm currently finding it really awkward to not be able to sub for "X + Y in combination", i.e. "A Hazard-setting move + a Hazard-setting move in combination".
I think we need a Result Clause (Affix) that changes the orders issued in the Result Clauses of other substitutions (i.e. IF X, use Y AND change Y in your other substitutions' Result Clauses to Z). This would be useful for situations in which a player wants to cover multiple options with the same Move across multiple substitutions, but when the Move in question can't be used effectively more than once in that round, such as when responding to at least two of Phantom Force, Protect, and Confusion by setting a Weather, employing a limited-use boosting Move like No Retreat, or laying the final stack of an Entry Hazard.
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Currently, a Pokemon cannot observe itself with an action clause in one of its own substitutions. This forces suboptimal results from substitutions for Damage-Returning Moves when writing an order set that contains both attacks and Status Moves—a configuration useful for covering both Bide and Confusion when ordering first against Pokemon with large movepools. Essentially, you cannot pair an order set such as "Earthquake - Stealth Rock - Earthquake" with a substitution such as "IF your opponent is set to use Counter AND you are set to use Earthquake, use Earth Power."
Essentially, you cannot pair an order set such as "Earthquake - Stealth Rock - Earthquake" with a substitution such as "IF your opponent is set to use Counter AND you are set to use Earthquake, use Earth Power."
Note that in many cases the substitution
"[start of step 1 or 3] If the opponent is to use Counter, use Earth Power."
will do fine.

However, if you have "and push back" in other subs, it stops working.
On a related note, I would like "push back substitutions" back - or even "push back orders and substitutions" without the option to just do subs, if you want to limit potential for fancier uses.


heralds disaster.
is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributor
Frankly, I like what you're being asked to do, in that situation being described. Your options are to either put Stealth Rock first and order "IF Counter THEN Earth Power and push down", or just order "Earth Power - Stealth Rock - Earth Power" in the first place. You're forced to decide whether you value avoiding Counter, sticking Rocks, or just getting damage through. You also have plenty of lines that force your opponent to pick a poison, without being able to perfectly sub for their orders (which "IF counter THEN replace all earthquakes this step earth power" would be closer to being.)

For allowing sub-altering result clauses, the gain would be a slight increase in QOL (and a real increase in substitution strength). The cost would be a huge increase in the possible complexity of subs — which would very soon, we've seen in the past, turn into a huge increase in the required complexity for subs in order to compete. It's better that the ceiling be achievable by more players.

After all, an opponent who uses more of the available strength of their subs is plainly favored to win. To keep up, you have to use more of the substitution space yourself. Whomst remembers adding "AND not Taunted" to every Protect sub, for example?

Keep suggestions like these coming! It's good that we frequently examine why the rules are the rules, and what their goals are, for the purpose of keeping them on-task.

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