In-game tier list policy discussion thread

I personally think this should be an all or nothing deal - if any of them get put on the list then everything obtainable through that method should be on the list regardless of viability. Because bloating is unpleasant, I do lean towards not including them but I can see both lines of logic.
So you're leaning toward not including any of them, even if a few of them can be good enough for B or C?
 

Merritt

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So you're leaning toward not including any of them, even if a few of them can be good enough for B or C?
Pretty much. Like I said, it's not a strong preference. I just think it'll end up being a massive mess to get them all tiered well, will inflate the list hugely, and I really disagree with any solution that'd be "only rank a few". Beyond that, I think that almost all of them (in the case of USUM) would end up above D rank purely because they're coming not unusably late (it certainly wouldn't be unreasonable to compare it to coming before Gym 8 in a normal game, it's before Necrozma2 technically) and extremely overleveled - matching the Champion's ace at that point is definitely overkill even for the worse Wormhole mons.
 
A few things I noted while going through the tier list thread in regards to HGSS' current list on the website:-

-First is that quite a few Pokémon are judged on their obtainability from the Pokéwalker; notably Kangaskhan, Doduo and Elekid. Would we still do this in an eventual updated HGSS list?
-The Red Gyarados doesn't seem to be ranked separately, which probably does make sense and I'm just dumb but it still felt odd especially when Gyarados' ranking is specifically marked out with Magikarp.
-And most glaring of all especially when compared to the GSC list, Kanto doesn't seem to be considered at all and certain Pokémon are decidedly untiered because they're only available in Kanto; notably Houndour and Suicune. Should this be the case in an updated list?


Also, the USUM list thread isn't linked on there yet and probably should be.
 
-First is that quite a few Pokémon are judged on their obtainability from the Pokéwalker; notably Kangaskhan, Doduo and Elekid. Would we still do this in an eventual updated HGSS list?
I think we can tier each Pokewalker-obtainable Pokemon twice, like how we deal with Pokemon that require trading to evolve.
This brings up a question of my own. RSE Feebas is ranked at the bottom because it can take a lot of sidetracking to catch. Should walking with the Pokewalker count as sidetracking, and Pokemon that require a lot of walking be ranked badly for it? The required investment to get Pokewalker Pokemon vary wildly from player to player. Some people exercise a lot more than they play Pokemon, so they can probably easily get stuff like a level 10 Dratini or level 15 Furret at the beginning of the game. Can we possibly make a tier list to account for this variation?
-The Red Gyarados doesn't seem to be ranked separately, which probably does make sense and I'm just dumb but it still felt odd especially when Gyarados' ranking is specifically marked out with Magikarp.
I'm pretty sure our policy is to tier each evolution family once. If it's better to evolve Magikarp, then we tier Magikarp. If it's better to catch the Gyarados, then we tier Gyarados.
At a certain point it gets absurd - do you rank route 106 Tentacool at B and route 111 Tentacool at C and route 126 Tentacool at E until the rankings are filled up completely? Do we need a writeup for each?
 
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I'm pretty sure our policy is to tier each evolution family once. If it's better to evolve Magikarp, then we tier Magikarp. If it's better to catch the Gyarados, then we tier Gyarados.
I don't necessarily disagree with your logic... but it's a bit confusing when you say this right after this:

I think we can tier each Pokewalker-obtainable Pokemon twice, like how we deal with Pokemon that require trading to evolve.
 
I don't necessarily disagree with your logic... but it's a bit confusing when you say this right after this:
After you pointed this out, I'm starting to think I don't really understand the policy either. Someone please help me.
My understanding is that most evolution families get tiered once per game, with these and only these exceptions.
  • If the Pokemon's obtainability or usefulness is affected by access to another copy of the game or a Pokewalker, then it gets one tier for players who have no access to those things and possibly another for players who do.
  • If the Pokemon has multiple evolved forms, then each one gets ranked separately and gets its own writeup.
Did I miss anything?
 

Merritt

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I'm a little wary personally of anything that requires an external device to obtain - even one that originally came packaged with the game. Since (especially at this point) it's entirely likely that people don't actually have a pokewalker when they go to play HGSS now, I'd say we probably shouldn't have the only ranking be for the pokewalker version. Whether that means flat out not ranking pokewalker mons, adding on a side chart somewhere that has the rankings of the pokewalker/non-walker version, or having two rankings like sumwun said is up for debate though.

Re: Red Gyarados I personally lean towards not ranking gift pokemon separately (since an elaborate gift Gyarados is) but this isn't really consistent even with our current tier lists. For example Riolu and Lucario in XY are ranked together, while Magby (C) and Magmar (C) have separate entries on the working version of GSC.

The reason for it being written as "Magikarp" though is probably because that's the earliest obtainable form, which is the standard way it's done even if the best way to use the Pokemon is to catch the evolved form.
 
The reason for it being written as "Magikarp" though is probably because that's the earliest obtainable form, which is the standard way it's done even if the best way to use the Pokemon is to catch the evolved form.
I guess I should have explained better. Here, for instance, is how Mareep looks ranked on the list:


Which is normal; just the name and image of the starting Pokémon in the evolutionary family. This is consistent with everything on the list... except Magikarp.



It's the only one formatted like this - with the evolved Pokémon's name in brackets and a sprite of the evolved Pokémon beside the unevolved - and I'm not entirely sure why. There's nothing in its description that would clarify this, and on top of that it doesn't even apply to split evolutions; Vaporeon and Umbreon for instance are just ranked as themselves without naming or showing an image of Eevee, and others like Oddish, Poliwag and Slowpoke don't even have their different evolutionary paths ranked separately. Which itself is probably something that should be corrected in an eventual updated HGSS list.
 

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Kurona asked some questions about HGSS. Being one of the people who originally wrote it I figured I would answer some questions:
A few things I noted while going through the tier list thread in regards to HGSS' current list on the website:-

-First is that quite a few Pokémon are judged on their obtainability from the Pokéwalker; notably Kangaskhan, Doduo and Elekid. Would we still do this in an eventual updated HGSS list?
I honestly hated adding Pokewalker stuff (I was one of the people who was against it at the time) and I honestly would rather have not added them in. I don't remember Fireburn's stance, and I will not speak for my old friend on that either. My personal opinion - I would rather just have two tier lists - one with HGSS as normal, then a tier list strictly for PokeWalker Pokemon and nothing more. Requiring anything external outside of trading.
-The Red Gyarados doesn't seem to be ranked separately, which probably does make sense and I'm just dumb but it still felt odd especially when Gyarados' ranking is specifically marked out with Magikarp.
That may have been from with whoever took it over or maybe just me blanking out. Anyway, the premise on this one was you had a trade-off - get a Magikarp (or Gyarados) earlier, or take the Red one and stick with it. Red is usually a bit better from my experience to be honest, but in general rule is unless the Pokemon has a weird condition behind it (trade evolution) or is some obscene gift they should just be tiered the same and just note which is the preferred option in the description.
-And most glaring of all especially when compared to the GSC list, Kanto doesn't seem to be considered at all and certain Pokémon are decidedly untiered because they're only available in Kanto; notably Houndour and Suicune. Should this be the case in an updated list?
Suicune probably would receive a rank still since it's caught at a tolerable level and the like, but some like Houndour would probably go to an Unranked or E (whichever is preferred, for consistency).

I have expressed interest in re-vamping HGSS in #ingame in Smogon the other day, and would actually fully commit to it and more Tier Policy - but the sacrifice would be dropping SM and ORAS tier lists, but to be fair these are two tier lists I really don't care about to run anymore and would rather focus on GSC / HGSS.
 
I'd like to ask a question now.
RSE Feebas is ranked at the bottom because it can take a lot of sidetracking to catch. Should walking with the Pokewalker count as sidetracking, and Pokemon that require a lot of walking be ranked badly for it? The required investment to get Pokewalker Pokemon vary wildly from player to player. Some people exercise a lot more than they play Pokemon, so they can probably get stuff like a level 10 Dratini or level 15 Furret at the beginning of the game. Can we possibly make a tier list that accounts for this variation?
Or we can just make a tier list that completely ignores Pokewalkers so we don't need to worry about this.
 
Why is Smeargle tiered so low in GSC and XY despite being obtainable pretty early and learning literally every field move? Is Smeargle not the ultimate HM slave?
 

Merritt

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Why is Smeargle tiered so low in GSC and XY despite being obtainable pretty early and learning literally every field move? Is Smeargle not the ultimate HM slave?
Can’t speak for XY in particular, but do keep in mind that for GSC, smeargle comes after Surf, requires Lapras levels of backtracking, needs to be encountered at level 20 as opposed to higher levels so that you don’t need to grind it that much, and can only learn one HM right away and then gets another at 21, a third at 31, and finally gets the last at 41 since relearner isn’t a thing. 41 from 20 is kinda high to have to grind a “good HM slave” for something that has basically no combat ability. Breeding one means you “only” have to go to 31 for the fourth HM but efficient breeding is an oxymoron.

Regardless, this is the kind of question you’d ask on the individual tier lists, since I’m pretty sure Smeargle’s placement isn’t a matter of policy.
 
Can’t speak for XY in particular, but do keep in mind that for GSC, smeargle comes after Surf, requires Lapras levels of backtracking, needs to be encountered at level 20 as opposed to higher levels so that you don’t need to grind it that much, and can only learn one HM right away and then gets another at 21, a third at 31, and finally gets the last at 41 since relearner isn’t a thing. 41 from 20 is kinda high to have to grind a “good HM slave” for something that has basically no combat ability. Breeding one means you “only” have to go to 31 for the fourth HM but efficient breeding is an oxymoron.

Regardless, this is the kind of question you’d ask on the individual tier lists, since I’m pretty sure Smeargle’s placement isn’t a matter of policy.
I forgot that there was no move reminder in GSC.
 
Can’t speak for XY in particular, but do keep in mind that for GSC, smeargle comes after Surf, requires Lapras levels of backtracking, needs to be encountered at level 20 as opposed to higher levels so that you don’t need to grind it that much, and can only learn one HM right away and then gets another at 21, a third at 31, and finally gets the last at 41 since relearner isn’t a thing. 41 from 20 is kinda high to have to grind a “good HM slave” for something that has basically no combat ability. Breeding one means you “only” have to go to 31 for the fourth HM but efficient breeding is an oxymoron.
Adding on to this for GSC, wouldn’t you have to find a Pokémon that uses each HM move in order to be able to Sketch it? There are no double battles in GSC, so you can’t even copy the moves from another one of your own mons. Since all wild Pokémon and the vast majority of trainer Pokémon only know their level-up moves, which are very rarely HM moves, even a level 41 Smeargle probably wouldn’t be able to function as an HM slave.

Edit: even in XY, it’d be faster overall to have a bunch of different HM users and switch them into your party as needed, rather than painstakingly teaching each move to Smeargle via a second Pokémon in a double battle, or researching which opposing Pokémon know HM moves to Sketch and hoping that a) the opponent uses the HM move and b) you manage to Sketch it without being KO’d.
 
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Why is Smeargle tiered so low in GSC and XY despite being obtainable pretty early and learning literally every field move? Is Smeargle not the ultimate HM slave?
XY: HM Slave capabilities aren't as great as before with the only HM really needed to complete the game being Surf and Strength. And you get something that learns both those needed moves for free in the same place where you first need Surf to progress (Lapras).

So if HM Slaving is so reduced in capabilities, then it should be a good battler right? Well if you get Dragon Rage from an Axew or something it has decent early-game power, but that utility drops off really quickly and suddenly it finds itself completely inept offensively. And having a good offence matters a lot in pretty much every in-game tier list. As a result, you get something that is one of the few worthy of bottom tier in most (if not, every) game it shows up in.
 
So I want to mention a video series I've been watching recently that seems somewhat relevant to the idea of what we're trying to accomplish or otherwise compare with Tier lists. This particular series is basically a pseudo casual race in Fire Red as a bit of a comparison point.

(Warning: Some Profane/NSFW language for jokes)


Basically, I think this video is a decent idea for what one can point to for evaluating what we want from an "efficient" run. The idea here is three relatively casual players racing through the game from beginning to Champion (albeit with some competition aspects like "lifelines" to interfere with the others). They can't do anything to tool assist or save scum, but the main idea is to finish the game with as little trouble in the least amount of real time play as possible.

Thought it might be helpful to have an immediate reference/idea to dissaude the comparisons to things like speed runs when we talk about efficiency as a goal.
 
I know I should probably not bring these things up when half the people here are studying for finals, but I thought maybe we could make better tier lists by ordering S-tier evolution families by usefulness instead of alphabetical order. This way, we can more easily answer questions like, "Is Torchic better or is Mudkip better in RSE?" or "What's the best water flying Pokemon in SM?" Each game has only 2-4 S-tier evolution families, so it shouldn't be too hard to decide how to order them.
 

Merritt

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I know I should probably not bring these things up when half the people here are studying for finals, but I thought maybe we could make better tier lists by ordering S-tier evolution families by usefulness instead of alphabetical order. This way, we can more easily answer questions like, "Is Torchic better or is Mudkip better in RSE?" or "What's the best water flying Pokemon in SM?" Each game has only 2-4 S-tier evolution families, so it shouldn't be too hard to decide how to order them.
Consistency is important in my eyes, so if we’re going to order one tier by viability then we should probably do all of them. And I don’t think that we really want to get into deciding exactly where the 300+ Pokémon in XY for example fall rather than the broader categories.

Realistically, there’s always at least some subjectivity in how much better X-rank Pokémon 1 is compared to X-rank Pokémon 2, and ultimately it’s better to be able to say every S rank is better than every A rank is better than every B rank and so on.

If it’s a case of “this is definitely the best Pokémon in this game, no contest, if we were doing subranks this would be the only S+” then that’s something simple enough to put in the write up comments. “Mudkip is the single most efficient Pokémon in RSE” for example is easy to add.
 
I've wanted to ask this for quite some time now, so here goes.

How should we factor enemy AI into tier lists?

I'm asking because of an experience I had with a SS run using bayleef. I was soloing bayleef up until goldenrod, which means that it had to fight Bugsy and Silver on it's own, with the only support being a level 6 screech-bot onix. This should have been terrible for bayleef, but it wasn't because of the incredibly incompetent AI. Both scyther and quilava just spammed leer until they died. I set up a reflect in both fights, which might have triggered this AI behaviour. Like, when the AI can't OHKO your pokemon, they will use status moves like leer first before attacking.

Now obviously we can't say that bayleef can go up a tier because the AI screwed up, but if matchups that should be really hard become non-issues for certain pokemon, the tier lists might not portray the ability of those pokemon right. This variance in AI behaviour might really muddy the waters for experiences with certain pokemon for different players. That's why I'm asking if we should factor this in or not.
 
I've wanted to ask this for quite some time now, so here goes.

How should we factor enemy AI into tier lists?

I'm asking because of an experience I had with a SS run using bayleef. I was soloing bayleef up until goldenrod, which means that it had to fight Bugsy and Silver on it's own, with the only support being a level 6 screech-bot onix. This should have been terrible for bayleef, but it wasn't because of the incredibly incompetent AI. Both scyther and quilava just spammed leer until they died. I set up a reflect in both fights, which might have triggered this AI behaviour. Like, when the AI can't OHKO your pokemon, they will use status moves like leer first before attacking.

Now obviously we can't say that bayleef can go up a tier because the AI screwed up, but if matchups that should be really hard become non-issues for certain pokemon, the tier lists might not portray the ability of those pokemon right. This variance in AI behaviour might really muddy the waters for experiences with certain pokemon for different players. That's why I'm asking if we should factor this in or not.
Enemy AI can have a factor in tier positioning. For instance, in USUM, Zoroark has a favourable placement almost only because Ultra Necrozma would spam Photom Geyser if it's disguised as a Psychic-weak Pokemon.

But outside of such extreme cases the AI is unreliable so it's better to not take it into account IMO.
 
I feel there's not a terrible amount of cases where that would be relevant, but in the cases that are, it simply means that the Pokémon now has better matchups. In cases like that though I feel it should definitely be mentioned in the write-up, since it's rather specific why Zoroark is so good against Necrozma and it'd be really confusing to someone why Bayleef has a good matchup against Bugsy.
 
Enemy AI can have a factor in tier positioning. For instance, in USUM, Zoroark has a favourable placement almost only because Ultra Necrozma would spam Photom Geyser if it's disguised as a Psychic-weak Pokemon.

But outside of such extreme cases the AI is unreliable so it's better to not take it into account IMO.

The AI seems random a lot of the time. I wouldn't be surprised if enemy attacks are chosen by "dice rolls" similar to bosses in the Dragon Quest series. In my Pachirisu solo playthrough of Pearl, sometimes Lucian's Mr. Mime used Psychic, and then sometimes wasted its turns on Thunderbolt. Flint's Rapidash used Bounce on Pachirisu twice in a row.

(Yeah, solo playthroughs aren't really what these tier lists are about, but Pachirisu is so weak, you get to see the weird AI in action more when you aren't killing things in one hit.)
 
The AI seems random a lot of the time. I wouldn't be surprised if enemy attacks are chosen by "dice rolls" similar to bosses in the Dragon Quest series. In my Pachirisu solo playthrough of Pearl, sometimes Lucian's Mr. Mime used Psychic, and then sometimes wasted its turns on Thunderbolt. Flint's Rapidash used Bounce on Pachirisu twice in a row.

(Yeah, solo playthroughs aren't really what these tier lists are about, but Pachirisu is so weak, you get to see the weird AI in action more when you aren't killing things in one hit.)
There is some sort of formula to it. All wild Pokémon - totem Pokémon notwithstanding - are a pure dice roll on what move they use. Trainers however do have smarter AI than that, and bosses like the Elite 4 have even smarter AI than the average route trainer. Enough to know to use their strongest move most of the time at least.
 

Merritt

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If you're interested in trainer AI, here's a decent writeup on GSC's trainer AI. No particular opinion on AI manipulation for tiering, although if it's obscure and somewhat difficult (manipulating enemy HP % so that they use a status move instead of an attacking move for example), I think it's a little too much to really take into account. Simple things like switching to an immunity against "Smart" AI or the Necrozma cheese should be fine though.
 

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So I am probably going to have a longer re-read through this thread later because I really want us to nail down what we want out of these tier lists and post again with a framework/rules which I think would be workable/malleable to what we need.

But for the time being I want to put forward a proposal for those games which have ridiculously large ingame Dexes (looking at XY in particular). Going forwards, We do not bother with write ups for D Rank or worse Pokemon. We would still explain that D/E rank Pokemon are not great, and if people really want to do write ups for them I won't mind, but I would prefer higher ranks being completed first.

With each Generation, dexes are getting larger and larger (granted Alola reduced in size somewhat from XY). We simply cannot sustain these threads which try to rank 300 Pokemon and then write brief synopses (which seems to be the big issue and falls onto a few users). Most of the metagame threads do not bother ranking mons outside the top few viability tiers (because whats the point) and I think we should start doing something similar. It would also hugely reduce the amount of time required to get a new article up on the Website with the latest games tier list. I really want to get as many of these new write ups on site as soon as we can. We're a huge community and we can provide something which a lot of other places don't.
 

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