Sleep Clause in Generation 8


Not a Yuyuko fan
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a supposed issue that has never been one in two decades
we have been playing with sleep clause for as long as i can remember and no one has ever complained about it
I can't find my own threads on it with forum search, but this has been a constant issue for even longer than I've been around:

I feel Philip made the correct decision in "Putting My Foot Down". The PR forum was becoming a cycle of arguments with an indefinite end


is a Tiering Contributor
Following mechs doesn't mean you have to follow clause as well.
Smogon/PS has always followed the mechs for every gen which is right in my opinion but is also true that Smogon tiers have p much nothing to do with the ones in the cart, Smogon always made his own tiers based on the official mechanics, the "OU" (or any lower tier) doesn't exist on the cart.
The main goal of Smogon OU (and other) tier has always been to make a balanced tier for every metagame to play in a 6v6 single game. So saying the simulator should be as similiar as possible to the cart means you follow the mech but you are definitely free to make different rules in a tier that has nothing to do with the pokemon cart since you are not changing any of VGC/BS rules.

drampa's grandpa

turtonator's gurtonator
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It's always seemed odd to me that Sleep Clause is the ONLY exception made where cartridge mechanics are allowed to be changed (besides some things that are just practicalities of playing on a simulator or ease of play changes such as timer / hp percentage mod). Why should it be that way? If sleep moves are broken or uncompetitive I see no reason for them to not just be banned.

If we were approaching sleep as a new problem, with our current tiering policy in place, the solution that we would most likely come up with is banning the problematic moves, whether that's just Spore and Sleep Powder or all of them or none of them or w/e. Suggestions for modifications to cartridge mechanics have always been dismissed out of hand, and if Sleep Clause hadn't been a fixture of standard tiers for so long I highly doubt we would have it.

Unlike with say, Freeze Clause in gen 1, removing sleep moves won't drastically and irrevocably alter the metagame, and as dragonwhale pointed out there's a chance they won't even be broken thanks to lack of good abusers.

The idea of "graying out" sleep moves once one Pokemon is asleep seems like it causes more problems than it solves. If this is done it would probably be best to have it done in the simplest possible manner to avoid confusion for every level of player, but frankly I think a ban is more consistent with tiering policy. If this could be implemented in a logical and easy-to-follow method I think it would be a reasonable option but as of now it seems needlessly complicated. Overall I'm unconvinced but I'm sure my mind could be changed.

As a sidenote both Relic Song and Secret Power have been removed so I don't believe there are any moves with sleep as a secondary effect, which means that only primary sleep moves (and Effect Spore I guess, if you really want to go there) are actually going to be causing sleep, making this a bit more straightforward. EDIT: Apparently Butterfree's G-Max move has a chance to sleep.

EDIT: Also I know it's really not my place but can we have this discussion without actively insulting anyone :(
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Be nice to ABR. It's true I interpreted him as speaking for all of OU, but I wanted to retest Sleep Clause in SM, so I might have read more into what he said than he intended.

Cartridge reproducibility isn't my #1 beef with Sleep Clause. If others care about this then great, it strengthens the position that Sleep Clause should be retested, and then potentially banned according to modern standards (auto-forfeit, greying out moves).

My beef is instead with "tradition" or the idea that we have to explicitly opt-out of clauses from previous generations. To me the only traditions of the Smogon tiered formats are that 1) we try to make as many Pokemon usable as possible & 2) we try to make the game fun to play competitively. Sleep Clause is a relic from the RBY days when sleep lasted an eternity and there is a 1-turn delay between waking up and being able to move, allowing the Pokemon to be put back to sleep. Sleep has steadily gotten less powerful since; the delay was removed, the duration was reduced, Sleep Talk was added (huge in GSC), and Grass was made immune. I interpret this as GF trying to make this mechanic less busted, so why don't we see if that's the case?

To put it another way: when hazards were added, did we initially ban them & have a discussion to see if they would work in our formats? What about weather changes? Megas & Z-moves? Sleep is a fundamentally different mechanic than it was when the clause was added, it should be treated as any other new game mechanic and be available at the start of a generation. No prior discussion is indeed, nor was it needed in SM.
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Have a nice day
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FWIW, I am still in favour of removing the non-cart based sleep clause in RBY and going back to "if you ever sleep two pokemon at once, you lose". Which is how it was for a long time.

The reason we dont have that now is because in later gens, people started raising the issue of instawins from trapping sleep users. The cart modifying sleep clause then got retroactively applied to RBY too. And its pretty regularly abused..

So yeah, appeals to tradition aren't really particularly compelling to me.

Although I think there is a case to be made for having sleep clause be consistent in all gens that use it.

[I cut out a bunch of shit here about possible better sleep clause approaches, because they dont really seem relevant to the question at hand. Feel free to ask me about sleep clause some time, I have opinions!]

But also, we're 30 posts into this thread and nobody has made a good faith attempt to argue that sleep clause is actually needed in gen 8. You're all just concern trolling about process. If I was in charge it'd be gone fairly soon.


Formerly The Idiot Ninja
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Arguing that it's entirely on ABR to provide arguments for changing the status quo is misinformed at best. The literal tiering policy itself, the Smogon constitution, the holy book, the one thing we've collectively managed to agree on, is pretty clear on this. "We play, to the best of our simulator's capabilities, with the mechanics given to us on the cartridge." -- "Some exceptions exist, such Sleep Clause and Freeze Clause (RBY / GSC), but they are to be avoided as much as possible." -- "The status quo can be changed in certain cases, such as new game releases." Trying to paint this discussion as 'unnecessary' or whatever the fuck you people are whining about is just ignorant and disregards years of policy work and effort from multiple Smogon leaders. There is most definitely a case for having this discussion, just have the discussion instead of being babies.

(It is legitimate to be very annoyed at ABR and chaos for the huge misunderstanding, and it is legitimate to demand a bigger apology than the one they have given. It is at best not very nice to throw vitriol at them for daring to try and improve the game we play, and it is either way irrelevant to the issue that should be discussed in this thread, which is Sleep Clause and Sleep Clause alone. If you want ABR removed from power go make a thread about it.)
I am wary of any appeal to legitimacy with respect to sleep clause because we have over a decade of fully accepted and legitimate tournaments incorporating the clause and you'll not find a single respectable player say (in good faith) that they would mean more should Spore or whatever have been fully freed from it's shackles.

That said, I do understand and agree with the idea that should we find a bad mechanic in modern competitive Pokemon our reaction wouldn't be and shouldn't be to mod the game to accommodate. However, luckily, our forefathers didn't think of that as reasonable and as such we have many, many games and years with Sleep Clause to accurately say that it doesn't reduce the quality of the game or legitimacy of it. In turn, I think the "be close to the cartridge" idea is misguided at best, and offers nothing to make the game more fun (primary reason) or more legitimate (secondary reason).


Legendary Cat
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To be honest. I don't see an issue with our current implementation. But its been a big discussion topic for many years. If our desire is to match the cartridge as close as possibly then there's only one answer and I don't know why people are not discussing it more.

You make the move greyed out, or better yet with red colors, a little warning on it, if you click it a small popup box with something like "Youve already put an opposing Pokémon to sleep, inflicting sleep to another Pokémon will cause you to lose the battle due to Sleep Clause. Do you wish to continue?".

I honestly see no drawbacks to this if it's possible to be implemented. Yes, it would cause some losses to Sleeping two mons but really if you want to keep clicking Sleep Powder vs a sleeping mon and have no risk of sleeping something else what you want to play is a completely different game that only exists right now for god knows what reason.
in some hypothetical Gen 4 cartridge game if you agree to play OU and then bring in an arceus, you lose bruh. If your scarf breloom sleeps 6 pokemon, you lose. Preventing a battle from starting on showdown accomplishes the same thing ("you can't use a team with ubers in ou!"). We have cases where "breaking" the "rules" (using funbro or assist+roar without hazards specifically to troll, breaking the "rule" of endless battles => staff makes you lose), so there's 0 reason to change sleep clause into "well, are you SURE you want to use that sleep move? You'll forfeit if you put two Pokemon to sleep!!" All this talk of "well the OPTIMAL play...", is solved, and anybody who complains about losing to this rule after being warned is not somebody we should entertain the notion of catering to.

That is, if sleep clause is determined to exist this gen or not. But it should be determined on a competitive basis, not because we "break the code"(!!!!!!)


the pastor of disaster
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It seems to me that there are two different issues being discussed in this thread, I'll reply to the important one first.

I am, and have always been, a strong supporter of the "emulate game mechanics and faithfully as possible" position. When Philip7086 famously "put his foot down", he made the right decision, and the fact that after all this time playing with the modified mechanic two camps still exist is, for me, extremely telling.

The crux of the question, as I see it, is simply the question of Smogon's mission: what game are we trying to play competitively, and are we editors or architects of it? Smogon is successful for two reasons: we provide the best and most reasonable ruleset for governing Pokemon matches, both formally and informally, we provide an easily accessible space for players to organize and play singles with competitive community recognition at stake. Honestly, almost any website interested in competitive singles could take over the organizing competition aspect of what we do--there have been rival sites to one degree or another for as long as I can remember. The distinguishing characteristic, the one that has kept Smogon on top of the competitive Pokemon market share, so to speak, is the reasonableness on the ruleset.

When I say the ruleset is reasonable, I mean that none of our decisions are arbitrary or flavor based--if something is banned, it is banned for good, explainable reasons. The main advantage of this is that the Smogon rules become *the* default setting for competitive singles, both for high-level play and casual play. Smogon has succeeded because we are the editors, the curators of the metagame, and for a noobie interested in being efficient at Pokemon, Smogon rules are much more effective at producing good singles matches than, say, Battle Spot. OMs are OMs for a reason: as we begin to move away from the source material of cartridge-based mechanics, we move away from the actual source of our credibility as the reasonable ones in our handling of that source material). Smogon is not the most popular because it has the best players, any site could eventually reach that goal. Smogon is the most popular because the lowest level players can understand Smogon's competitive reasoning to regulate even low-level and casual play.

In terms of the best possible rule for governing sleep, I think it is important to recognize here that our present implementation has artificially boosted the effectiveness of some Pokemon in the past. Using any implementation that is possible in cartridge play, something like Breloom or Amoonguss that relies very heavily on Spore for its viability is much less desirable if you can "accidentally" lose by inadvertently putting two Pokemon to sleep. Corner cases such as Choice locked sleep or having a sleep move as the only move with PP remaining are serious risk management issues using cartridge mechanics: is it worth even using Amoonguss, knowing you could in some circumstances be risking losing to Sleep Clause? Our current approach has eliminate this tension entirely, and it is worth remembering that that absence is artificial. Sleep moves don't get to be more viable than they should be simply because we are used to them.

I support the simplest possible implementation of Sleep Clause and the one most easy to implement in cartridge play: if you put a second enemy Pokemon to sleep you lose, no exceptions. Issues with Effect Spore, etc should be rare, and if it has any impact, it should be on the viability of whether players will bring sleep-inducing Pokemon to major matches. I dislike the grayed-out move idea because it creates new situations that depart from cartridge play, such as with Encore and PP stall situations.

Since hypocrisy was brought up as an issue here, I'd like to point out that our current plans are to go along with "Dexit" and to deal with an OU that is entirely subject to the whims of the Galar Pokedex, and rightly so! If we were building the most popular possible Pokemon-based game, regardless of the changes we need to make, there would be little reason to even pay attention to "Dexit", since PS! is not bound by it. Being logically consistent *is* important, and that means we need to care about how to build a ruleset that works within cartridge mechanics.

Finally, many have taken issue with the way ABR launched this topic, and while I am not a fan of unilateral leadership, I think it's important to remember that Smogon is not really a democracy and never has been--it is more of a fairly inclusive, highly meritocratic oligarchy. The advantage of Smogon's leadership has rarely been its populism, but more its desire for evidence-based decisions, logical coherence and general good sense. In my experience, far more issues have escalated from ad hominem attacks, which in my view damage the credibility of the attacker more than the target.

tl;dr: Smogon's mission calls for us to curate the metagame the cartridges have given us, not change the mechanics. The best sleep clause is the one where if you put two enemy Pokemon to sleep you lose, no exceptions.

Eo Ut Mortus

Elodin Smells
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I am adamantly against any proposed resolution that introduces an alternate win condition in the form of getting your opponent to sleep a Pokemon twice. To me, there is absolutely nothing bigger at stake here than this; there is nothing so fundamental about the sleep mechanic that necessitates us willfully introducing the possibility of deciding games in a way that has never been recognized as legitimate instead of exercising the alternatives made available by precedent, either historical (our existing sleep clause mod) or formal (adhering to cartridge mechanics and permitting/banning sleep moves or their abusers in accordance with their brokenness). There is nothing simple or elegant about a solution that defies both intuition and established precedent as to how a game can possibly end. I would rather play a game where sleep is completely nonexistent than make such concessions that fundamentally alter how the game is played.


is a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus
Ok so i will drop my thoughts on this issue.

Firstly I agree that this issue was not introduced in the best way possible. Hard remove the clause without asking the opinion of, at least, experienced players was even, in my opinion, the worst way to do it. But the idea behind it isn't really a bad thing. While this would, indeed, be closer to cartridges mechanics, it doesn't really matter as the main reason on the removal of this clause should be the way that sleep had been "nerfed" with the Dexit.

As DragonWhale already stated it, there is a lot less mon which have access to a sleep inducing move and lot of them would not see a high usage. I think the most consistent of them will be gengar, ninetales alola and maybe mew (???) and they would rely on hypnosis which is 60% accurate and would find competition with other moves more useful like nasty plot, freeze dry or simply all his movepool, respectively. With this i can see that sleep won't be as prevalent as other generations but I could be wrong and that's why I'll suggest a solution. I don't think that this will be the best solution but why not consider it.

As I already stated it, sleep will likely be less prevalent so I think it would be better to, unlike already searching a way to reinstate sleep clause or creating something similar because we had it during twenty years, wait until the metagame stabilizes and then decide about this issue by asking people, ideally experienced player from all tiers, to answer objectively if they think add a sleep clause-like would be better for the current metagame or if this is fine without it. Once again I'm not claiming that's the best solution but I think this is worth to consider it.


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Community Leader
Since remaining fully on topic is out the window by now I have some stuff to say.

I have stepped down from my position as the OU Tiering Leader - Finchinator will be assuming the position and I will remain as a regular council member. I am looking to contribute ideas without having the administrative authority of a leader, so hopefully this balance works out better for everyone.

I have made mistakes and, even if it takes some time to get there, honestly want to factor in genuine criticism when the opportunity arises. I do not wish to impose my will on others; I only wish to spread ideas with the reception being optional. If I ever stray from these ideals again in the future please let me know.

Ojama your dramatic flare is simultaneously frustrating and impressive - you don’t beat around the bush and say what you want when you feel strongly about something. I can’t fault you for your words and hope you receive mine as genuine. To anyone else I offended or harmed, I am sorry.

Returning to the topic of sleep clause... I stand by what I prefer and hope the community continues to iron out what’s best for all of us.


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OU & NU Leader
Thanks to ABR for serving as the OUTL for a while and helping shape the 7th generation metagame as well as the start of the 8th generation metagame into the best they possibly could be. I am glad to have you still on council and looking forward to us both helping improve upon the 8th generation of OU.


Personally, I think that keeping Sleep Clause in tact is best for the time being. It is back to being implemented on PS and I think that it should not be a priority when we are dealing with a very new metagame. I am ok with keeping this discussion thread open moving forward so that we can address it when we have a more stable metagame, but right now it will not be my primary focus.

In addition, I fully echo the sentiments of Eo on opposing any of those midground solutions that have dangerous drawback potential. As an extension of this, I agree with Obii's underlying sentiment that we should either keep the clause or remove sleep moves -- we do not need to get overly cute with solutions here. Finally, Tony brings up a strong point about how it would feel a bit misplaced timing wise compared to other generations to make this shift, perhaps making the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" line of logic a bit more appealing to me personally.

While I respect that these discussions can get heated and many of us are passionate, let's remember not to cross the line from passionate discussion to flaming those who oppose your point of view in the future. This applies to this thread and future PR threads, thanks!


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I don't like autolose on sleep & neither does the rest of the staff. I prefer rules analogous to chess where you are not allowed to make a play that would put you in checkmate. I would err on the side of allowing extra sleep in certain cases or banning the moves outright, with strong preference towards the former.


grubbing in the ashes
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I’ve expressed this privately to others, but I should probably weigh in publicly. The issue of sleep clause is one that I’ve always been particularly torn about, for a few reasons. This is far from the first time this issue has come up, and I’m sure that whatever resolution we end up reaching, it won’t be the last time either.

I’m torn about this issue for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, we inherited the clause from stadium games that haven’t been relevant for almost two decades and that have never been enforceable on standard cart games. Meanwhile, one of the core tenets of every tiering policy we’ve ever instituted has prioritized strict adherence to cartridge formats. The goal has never been to create our own custom game based on Pokemon, but rather to create a competitive format using the existing games. Others may disagree, but I personally consider that to be the single most important element of our tiering philosophy: we may set rules, and Showdown may create some convenience-based utilities that we wouldn’t have on the cart, but in the end any match using an official Smogon format should be able to be played in the actual games, not on the sim. That’s true for just about everything EXCEPT sleep clause.

On the other hand, I’m a firm believer in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it;” sleep clause has been a standard Smogon clause for as long as we’ve existed, and I think any potential removal of it stands the chance to be disruptive and to make our competitive format directly worse. Is there actually any value in a policy that directly makes our metagame less competitive than it has been previously?

Ultimately this is where I land on the issue: I’m OK with us choosing to maintain the status quo and retain sleep clause if that’s the best option despite the fact that it does not hew with our general tiering philosophy. However, this is the first and best opportunity we have had in the history of Smogon to explore other options. Sword and Shield has presented us with a radically different metagame and a significantly reduced Dex, including far fewer reliable sleep options. If there is ever a point when we can dig deep and look into modifying or removing sleep clause, it is now, and I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t take that opportunity. Maintaining the status quo is an OK option, but let’s make it an active choice after exploring the other options, and not something we just do because it’s easy.

As for the options proposed, I think my favorite is the method of graying out sleep moves once a member of the opposing team has been put to sleep. This is a fairly low impact method that lets us more or less play as we have been, but is more cart enforceable (basically, it’s a rule that players agree to when they play a Smogon format, as opposed to our current sleep clause that produces outcomes not currently possible in any games). The only thing it will remove is the strategy of spamming a sleep move against a Pokemon that is likely to wake up… which is not a huge loss, and is something that is only really possible because of our existing sleep clause in the first place.

I’m not a fan of the proposed method where sleeping a second Pokemon is just a loss, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of creating good competitive ‘mons to introduce a big arbitrary loss condition like that. Banning particularly problematic sleep users is an option, but if we go down this route I think it will be annoying enough that we’ll end up banning just about every 75%+ accuracy sleep user from Butterfree to Vileplume, which seems far from ideal. The only other option would be to ban the moves Sleep Powder and Spore (and Lovely Kiss, if they ever release it) completely, but in addition to my general distaste for non-Pokemon bans, most people don’t seem to be interested in removing sleep from the game entirely, but instead just want to limit it and keep it from being spammed.

TL;DR: I’m OK with us deciding to retain sleep clause if that’s the best option, but let’s at least take advantage of the big changes in gen 8 to explore some options that don’t violate our core tiering philosophy.


yeah I'm bitter
is a Community Contributor
I'm frankly in favor of whatever ban is the simplest to understand and implement. I'm not a fan of how the traditional Sleep Clause is impossible to replicate on cart, nor am I a fan of some of the alternative solutions proposed that would probably require consulting a flowchart in worst case scenarios.

The way I see it, we should either remove the clause entirely or just ban sleep moves altogether. Dexit's removal of a bunch of sleepers makes the former option feasible, and if we get any good abusers in the future (i.e. Venusaur) we can just ban them. The latter is also not a terrible idea since it removes any future headaches, but probably unnecessary since sleep moves are either blocked by being a Grass-type or generally inaccurate.


audere est facere
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I honestly don't get why we aren't making decisions like this the default in any gen - aside from the very obvious bans, let things be broken early on. Then we run a suspect test and people vote and we come to a consensus. The goal should be to eventually reach a stable, enjoyable metagame, but that doesn't have to come on day one. I think we should be a lot more hands off to start and then let the decisions be made based on actually playing the game and determining what is and isn't broken. It's very possible sleep isn't a huge issue this gen, in which case you wouldn't necessarily need sleep clause. It's also very possible that spanning sleep moves could end up being a somewhat viable strategy that's cheap and terrible, in which case we should ban sleep moves or reinstate some sleep clause.

It should be that way with any mechanic - the decisions we make for one generation should rarely influence others. We start fresh and then make educated decisions on what to ban, rather than getting up in arms about abstract rules. This is what suspect testing/council voting is for. We don't have to come to these decisions immediately in order to have a functioning meta, it should be a work in progress.


Not a Yuyuko fan
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I honestly don't get why we aren't making decisions like this the default in any gen - aside from the very obvious bans, let things be broken early on. Then we run a suspect test and people vote and we come to a consensus. The goal should be to eventually reach a stable, enjoyable metagame, but that doesn't have to come on day one.
As far as I can tell, that's what we have been doing every gen (but with quickbans instead of suspect tests), and also did this gen, but then Ojama's post happened so we quickbanned slightly quicker than usual.

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