The problem with your idea is that we are now going to ban item combinations with moves, which can lead down a slippery slope. What’s next, we ban recovery moves with regenerator mons? Or better yet let’s just ban a boosting item on any physical attacker that is a problem. You see where I’m going? One complex ban leads to a completely new one, and at that point we fail to tier Pokémon and instead combinations. I understand your frustration with HDB pivoting but banning this combo will just open up a can of problematic worms that won’t be good in the long run.I've played a lot of OU lately, and something felt off. It felt like I couldn't punish anything. And slowly, over about ten hours of OU playtime, I realized what's wrong. And I think most everyone has felt that feeling, at least from what I can tell from reading through this thread. There's a lot of debate about what's broken, what should be suspected next, because this doesn't really feel like a balanced meta, but we can't agree on anything, because there's nothing we can point to as the definitive problem, something that would fix the meta. The three main troublemakers are Spectrier, Cinderace, and Magearna.
Spectrier is a unique case, as I think it's probably broken enough to get banned. But I don't think banning it would make the meta much better, because the reasons it's broken are different then the reason Ace and Mag are broken.
Cinderace is the one I hate the most, but I feel there's something missing that's crucial for a broken pokemon. I can't really explain it other then by saying that I just don't think it's highs are high enough. But don't you worry, I'll talk about Ace plenty in this post.
Mag, although really versatile, is weak to common typings on already good mons that can threaten big damage, and doesn't have reliable recovery. Every set has different answers, which is a problem, but the answers are already good mons that would be good regardless of Mag. I mean, life orb Chomp beats every set that doesn't increase their speed, and the calm mind shift gear set can't have nearly as much coverage as it wants, and will always lose to something no matter what.
What I find ironic is that although it's probably the least broken of the mons, Cinderace is the most troubling for me, as it restricts team building in an awful way. Thanks to Heavy duty Boots and Libero u-turn, Ace can just pivot around and rack up cheap damage and always be in a good position. It's very rare that Cinderace doesn't just click u-turn, as it always gets momentum, as long as it goes first, which it usually does. It's the ultimate offensive pivot, and forces every physical wall to run rocky helmet. The fact that it's free momentum every time it switches in is just ridiculous.
In every other gen, this wouldn't be a problem. You could say the same for something like Band Scizor in gen 4. There's a price for switching in, in the form of hazards. But heavy duty boots negates that. And that completely breaks switch moves. As a concept, I really like heavy duty Boots. It's a great idea. But the combination of switch moves and heavy duty boots is just stupid, and this single change completely warped the meta. Look at the viability rankings, and count how many pokemon commonly used a switch moves or counter switch moves. Out of the first 3 tiers, I counted 5 out of 17 that don't either abuse switch moves or counter them. And Spectrier abuses the free switches that it gets from those moves. Only Heatran, Melmetal, Tapu Fini, and Excadrill are mostly divorced from switch moves. Doesn't that say something, when a mechanic is so omnipresent that more then 3/4s of the top tiers are directly linked to it?
Do you know how many ranked pokemon resist both u turn and volt switch and have reliable recovery? None. Hippowdon is the closest as it's immune to v switch and has great bulk to tank a u turn and packs slack off, but that's about it. If grassy terrain counts then Tapu Bulu (waifu) also counts in that list as it's only neutral to u turn. Not even going to account for flip turn, as that list boils down to just Tapu Bulu who only has grassy terrain (and leech seed I guess). In fact, the only pokemon ever to resist both and have reliable recovery is Gliscor, who isn't even legal any more.
Again, this would normally not be a problem, as stealth rock and the other hazards would wear them down. But heavy duty boots negates that. And that changes the meta so much for such a small change. And not for the positive, in my opinion. Thanks to how many good pivots there are, the game stalls out to switching to pivots and walls to deal with other pivots and walls. It feels nigh impossible to make legitimate progress in games without putting yourself at a disadvantage. A game between two primarily offensive teams shouldn't take 30 turns every game. It makes the game a slog. And I don't think there's any way to change that without banning Heavy Duty Boots in some way.
I don't want to be one of those people who hates every new meta addition and wants to ban anything that I don't like, so I'm going to explain why I think this pivot based, switch heavy meta is bad. The number one reason that I think that it's toxic is that it takes control away from the players. HDB VoltTurn is the ultimate option select. It covers basically every single possible option at very little to no cost. The only cost would be if you took rocky helmet damage, which 1. takes away an item slot from the pokemon in question, which will hamper it in other ways. 2. The pokemon still takes damage from the attack and 3. You only take 1/6 hp and still get to switch out. Thanks to it's extremely limited counterplay, it leads to dead turns, turns in which nothing meaningful can happen. Even if you predict correctly, you still come out on bottom. There's nothing you can do to stop it, no extremely aggressive and risky plays you can make to get an edge, just safe, boring interactions. It leads to games that are unwinnable 10 turns in. Not because you're getting swept, or that you lost your checks to a dangerous pokemon, but because you made one bad prediction or your opponent made a good one and a key piece dies, and you lose because they can just force constant momentum and always have you on the backfoot. I know it sounds really hyperbolic, but it has happened to me multiple times. I have had games where I have had to switch out like 5 times in a row because they keep switch attacking and switching in an answer for free. I've also had games where I play 20x better then my opponent, reading him like a book, and still lose, because they did one unexpected move early on and got a key kill. You could feasibly have a game in which both players know what the other one is going to do every turn and yet do the predicted action anyways because it's the only answer. And that's just not a fun way to play Pokemon.
(And I can definitively say that it's not my team, because I switch it around a lot, using many different team types and makeups.)
Up to now, I don't think I've said anything too controversial. I think most people can agree that HDB is a problem, and that specifically it's how it interacts with switch moves that's the problem. However, this is where I think I'm gonna catch some flack. I don't think that full on banning HDB is the right move. I really like what it can do. It helps so many pokemon in some really good ways, and lessens the omnipresence of Stealth rocks in pokemon's viability, which is a really good thing. So what I say that we do is ban the use of Heavy Duty Boots on a pokemon that also has a switch move.
Complex bans are a very interesting situation, and the rules around them are very vague and undefined. From what I can tell, the main drawback for complex bans is how confusing they are to uninformed players. OU is the flagship tier of Smogon, where, like it or not, the majority of the casual players reside. The players who use their playthrough teams just for fun. So any theoretical complex ban also has to take into account how easy to understand it would be to an uninitiated player. However, I don't think this is a problem, as the complex ban that I'm advocating for is specific enough so that a casual player who doesn't read the rules would never even realize it was a restriction until they either started to get genuinely good at team building and/or find out where they could get viable sets, and therefore also find out that this is a rule. This complex ban would be extremely unintrusive for the average player compared to most bans, probably less intrusive then most normal bans. I've been told that Complex bans are allowed but heavily discouraged, saved only for extreme situations. But in my opinion, not only is this an issue important enough to warrant one, it's also the right move. Complex bans, by nature, are arbitrary, But not using Complex bans because they're arbitrary is, ironically enough, also arbitrary. If it's the best option and does the least amount of collateral damage, then why not use it? Because of rules that we came up with? Rules have to adapt to the right thing to do, not the other way around. If the rules are obstructing the proper course of action, we should change them. (I want to clarify, I'm not saying that my proposal is the universal best option, nor am I saying that anyone else agrees with me. All I'm saying is that if a solution is agreed to be the best course of action, the label of complex ban shouldn't at all affect whether we do it or not.)
Like I said earlier, in my opinion just banning HDB is the wrong move. HDB has the potential to help otherwise great pokemon that were ruined by Stealth Rocks, like Moltres, Volcarona, and even Zapdos to a degree, become genuinely good pokemon, and helps expand the depth of viable pokemon. It gives much more depth to item choice, as item choice has pretty much always been very static between sets. The item defines the set more then the moves do. Sweepers and cleaners run life orb. Wallbreakers run a choice item that boosts power and very rarely life orb. Revenge killers run scarf, or occasionally the other choice items if they're fast enough. defensive pokemon run Leftovers, or occasionally rocky helmet in very specific circumstances. I could go on and on. But HDB, divorced from switch moves, helps that. All types of pokemon using many different sets and archetypes have the capability of running it, and it's balanced because 1. You lose the item slot 2. It only works in specific circumstances, and 3. It helps provide useful role compression and negates the requirement of hazard removal for some pokemon, no longer forcing you build around one mon. (Try running sweeper Volc in gen 5-7 without hazard removal. Have fun.) All of these are good in their own right, and add depth to the meta as a whole. However...
HDB is incompatible with switch moves as a whole. But this isn't really HDB's fault. Switching is a core part of Pokemon gameplay, without it the game wouldn't even be close to the same. You can escape bad situations but lose the turn and your opponent can do whatever they want in that turn. Switching moves change that, and in a big way. You attack and switch at the same time, and can even switch after the opponent attacks. But, stealth rocks, the single most impactful move in pokemon history, was added at the same time, and helped temper those moves. It also helped that they were pretty rare, only given to mainly bug and electric types, one type was shut down by ground, and the other is bug. But as the gens went on, Gamefreak was a lot more free with switching moves, and now basically every good offensive pokemon has them. But switching out wore down your team, so it was more or less balanced.
I've always hated Stealth Rock, and how stupidly vital it is to viability, not just of pokemon, but of whole types. But now, I realize what a necessary evil it is. HDB was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of switch moves. From the days of Band Scizor and Rotom to now, switch moves have been getting better and better, and now HDB finally broke them
To conclude, I think that HDB VoltTurn is fundamentally broken, and needs to be contained in some sort of way to have a properly balanced metagame. In my opinion, a ban of holding HDB as an item while knowing the moves U-Turn, Volt Switch, or Flip Turn would be most appropriate, as it would most effectively limit the strategy while keeping as much meta depth as possible. (Teleport is not on the list because it doesn't attack and will always go last, really only being useful on stalwart walls that can tank sustained hits. It allows you to keep momentum but you give up damage instead, which makes it much more balanced) I think that banning HDB altogether is a secondary option that we should consider as well, but it would have more collateral damage for the same desired effect.
I think, finally, I'm done. It only took over 2000 words, but I think I said everything I need to. I doubt anyone will actually take this seriously as a suggestion, because lets be real, to get something like this to be seriously considered I would need a hell of a lot more influence then I possess. But I'm glad I got it off my chest. And if you read this far, then thanks for indulging me and my long winded rants.
Tapu Bulu best girl