SwagPlay, evaluating potential bans (basic definition of "uncompetitive" in OP)

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Banned deucer.
I didn't think I would have posted a thread like this, but a large part of the community has been asking us to take measures against strategies that abuse the combination of Swagger+Prankster, usually in conjunction with Paralysis support and Foul Play, to make games entirely luck reliant. While a few months ago the strategy was rarely, if ever, seen on the ladder, it's starting to become a thing lately. So here we go.

The purpose of this thread is to gather opinions from the playerbase on how the above strategy is perceived. When the discussion is over, the OU Council will decide how to move forward. This means that, notwithstanding the current rules of this forum, you are allowed to discuss about potential bans to make the SwagPlay strategy less effective.

The options that are being considered right now are:
  • ban the move Swagger;
  • ban the move Swagger in conjunction with the ability Prankster (complex ban);
  • ban individual Pokémon that make the strategy effective (Klefki, Liepard etc.).

You're free to suggest more and different methods of approaching the issue.

Remember to make civil posts and to back up your arguments with solid reasonings. Uninformed, unnecessarily rude and off-topic posts will be deleted and infracted without further warnings.


Chou edit: Do NOT make arguments for Swagger-Prank based on it "adding diversity" to the meta-- and this being "better" or "healthier" for the metagame.

Previous data shows that "diversity" is not conclusively deemed better by not the community, nor is "over-centralization" deemed a problem.

All posts appealing to variety/diversity/creativity/etc. as their main argument will be deleted if I find them.


Unofficial, but standard definition of "Uncompetitive":

Uncompetitive game aspects (or strategies) are those that take away autonomy (control of the game's events), take it out of the hand's of player's decisions-- and do so to a degree that can be considered uncompetitive.

This can be luck-based, but doesn't have to be (see: 4th gen Wobb, who was effective enough then to remove the ability to "do anything about it" largely from the enemy player, and was banned for uncompetitive-ness); but most uncompetitive strategies that are banned usually have a high appeal to luck.

While there is always luck involved in Pokemon, the problem is the degree to which control is taken away from the player. Removal of autonomy is the key to an uncompetitive tiering decision or clause.

Note: the word "degree" as there are many game aspects that remove autonomy, but the problem is degree of removal (Moody / Double Team remove more autonomy than Quick Claw or fast U-Turn/Volt Switch).

Whether the "degree" of autonomy removal is uncompetitive is debatable, and is subjective (based off of player experience).

Note: Individual Pokemon can be banned for a combination of "overpowered" and "uncompetitive" characteristics-- see 4th Gen Deoxys-S and 4th Gen Shaymin-S bans
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I'm in favor of banning it. It's possible to play around it, but you can't 100% beat it due to the nature of confusion. If we're going to take this to an extreme example, I don't think anyone would be pleased if a SwagPlay team ended up at the top of the ladder because the player managed to be lucky enough to beat all opponents without any skill. I don't oppose it because it's unfair, really, just that it does not require skill to build or use one of these teams so having them on the ladder can potentially impact the ranking and success of people who are actually good at teambuilding and prediction. I wanna say there was a guy around 1500 in rank using a full SwagPlay team, which means he beat a considerable amount of people purely through luck.

However, I don't think banning Pokemon is a good idea - Klefki is an awesome Dual Screen and Spikes setter and it would be unfair to remove his utility in that capacity due to the possibility of a SwagKey set. Outside of SwagPlay strategies, does Swagger really have any use? Confusion on its own is a pretty unreliable strategy with its possibility to not work or even just wear off immediately, so I don't think the metagame would really be losing anything by banning that move beyond dismantling the SwagPlay strategy, as intended.

Overall, it doesn't really hurt the metagame to ban Swagger, and it removes the option for lucky players to triumph over skilled ones. Much like uber Pokes that allow you to just run a train over your opponent without any skill required, this strategy does the same, and though it's not as reliable as, say, Arceus EKiller in OU, it's also not possible to ever reliably counter it due to the nature of confusion.

tl;dr Ban Swagger


the bad man
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I think that the third option is completely unviable due to the sheer amount of Pokemon you'd have to ban (Klefki, Liepard, Sableye, Thundurus, Tornadus, etc. the lost goes on) which would remove many important Pokemon from the metagame when the only thing that's problematic with them is spamming Swagger and try and luck their opponents... I think the the best option is to ban Swagger + Prankster (if we are to ban anything), since you never see other things running round with Swagger + Sub + Thunder Wave attempting to use that strategy, and the reason why it is so "successful" is coming from the priority Prankster gives

Disaster Area

formerly Piexplode
The trouble is that things like prankster thunder wave etc. is very annoying but clearly still legitimate, but swagger is outright troublesome.
Whilst for the swagger user it isn't absolutely reliable, what with 90% accuracy and the lower chance of being hurt by confusion. The thing is that the reason it's not been banned before was a mixture of 'it'd never be used in high level play' and I think that it's been used to success at least once in SPL; the other is that 'it boosts your attack so it can be to your advantage' but there's several flaws to this. Firstly is the reasonable chance that you die to your own confusion, especially with the prankster users in particular being anle to set up a substitute fairly quickly after that happens. Secondly, powerful physical attackers will die quicker, and if they do somehow succeed, swagplay users are often paired with a ditto to countersweep with the attack-boosted pokemon. I strongly, strongly believe swagger could be banned, whilst the users of the move and prankster itself are something I strongly dislike but in no way believe they deserve a ban at the hands of parafusion, otherwise we might as well ban thunder wave which is taking things too far.

I've genuinely been considering doing a statistical calculation presuming a team of 4 swagplay users + ditto + powerful cleaner/sweeper and working out what sort of teams it can expect to demolish, how a team is best built to avoid demolishment, and whether it's unfair. The trouble is there's a lot of factors in it and in some way simplifying the model isn't too hard but it has its limits. If anyone else is curious please contact me.

Ban swagger.


Out of Obscurity
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Oh yay, this thread is finally here.

None of these would fix the problem. There is still Prankster + Confuse Ray/Flatter, so people could still abuse the strategy to a lesser extent.

Banning Prankster + Confusion in its entirety is the way to go here. It makes it so there's absolutely no way for people to luck out against those immune to Twave. If we go out of our way to actually ban this shit, we should, you know, ACTUALLY ban it and make sure that nobody can abuse Prankster Parafusion anymore.


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I am actually suggesting the idea of banning all ways of inducing Confusion that aren't a side-effect of a damaging move. Honestly, Swagger and Confuse Ray is just painful to play against when coming from a Prankster user, but will this stop fast users of the move from using the same strategy? Confusion is always a 50/50 coinflip, and being able to use a move only half of the time is uncompetitive, if not broken. It is also prevalent in Tournament play, which limits the main focus of Tournaments, to see who can win using the best competitive strategies, not by hindering the opponents any chance of doing anything productive, in a form similar to evasion that ends up causing you to damage yourself.

Edit: Dynamic Punch and Hurricane and the like are fine in this scenario.

Ban Swagger + Flatter + Confuse Ray under a metagame wide Confusion clause.
Honestly, I'd just ban Prankster with Swagger/Flatter/Confuse Ray, as Paralysis can be stopped by Electric-types and I don't think it is broken, however, it is very luck reliant, and it would just be easiest to ban all.
Banning the move swagger with prankster would be the most reasonable option out of them all, so you can still use Swagger on other Pokemon (don't know why you would use that) But still, most of the Pokemon with Swagger can still use Confuse Ray or Flatter to confuse the opponent, though not as effective as swagger since no SwagPlay.

But banning all Pokemon with Prankster is too much, some of them don't even use Swagger.

So another option: Ban the combo of Prankster and all status moves that Confuse, like Swagger Flatter or Confuse Ray.
Oh yay, this thread is finally here.

None of these would fix the problem. There is still Prankster + Confuse Ray/Flatter, so people could still abuse the strategy to a lesser extent.

Banning Prankster + Confusion in its entirety is the way to go here. It makes it so there's absolutely no way for people to luck out against those immune to Twave. If we go out of our way to actually ban this shit, we should, you know, ACTUALLY ban it and make sure that nobody can abuse Prankster Parafusion anymore.
Confusion has the potential to annoyingly hax to you death, but without the doubled attack plus the opponent being able to abuse that with Foul Play, I think the odds of someone being killed just by straight-up confusion while the opponent just stalls is unlikely enough for it to matter.

Dread Arceus

total cockhead
Dexsearch comes up with 782 Pokemon that can learn Swagger-the same amount that can learn Double Team. Of those, 14 are Pranksters. I'd like to say just ban the move Swagger outright, as the move itself is entirely luck-based and can turn matches in to nothing more than coinflips. Let's also keep in mind there are only 5 hard counters to Parafusion-the 4 Magic Bounce users, and Numel. However, if for some reason we find a playstyle that uses it and isn't completely luck reliant (keep in mind DittoSwag relies on the opponent not attacking Ditto), then I'd support just banning Swagger + Prankster. Finally, I'd like to partially agree with TRC and go as far as to say ban all moves that only have a primary effect of inducing Confusion (ie moves like Confuse Ray, rather than Water Pulse).
Conclusion: Ban confusion inducing-moves
I'm not a huge fan of complex bans, but I feel like the second option you listed, "ban the move Swagger in conjunction with the ability Prankster (complex ban)," is the best. Swagplay + Paralysis is a way that people who have never played before can win >50% of the time. It takes no skill to employ correctly, and a banning of it with Prankster would be similar to the banning of Minimize/Double Team, which I agree with. Liepard and Klefki, mostly Klefki, can do things other than Swagplay, and therefore I don't think banning them is the correct thing to do. Dual screen Klefki is fine, and actually is a great Pokemon. Additionally, the move Swagger can be used in a way that it's not harmful to the metagame. Unaware users can use it to disrupt physical sweepers; if Confusion occurs it's a win for the Unaware pokemon and if it doesn't, nothing happens, as they are Unaware. Additionally, while typically a poor choice, any non-Prankster Pokemon with Swagger is definitely not broken. If a person wants their Blissey to use Swagger, he should be able to.

So, by the reasons stated above, I would hypothetically vote to: ban the move Swagger in conjunction with the ability Prankster (complex ban).

Disaster Area

formerly Piexplode
Well we can't have a metagame wide confusion clause I don't think because Outrage's confusion chance is important (as with thrash and petal dance) and suchlike.

No, just ban Swagger + Confuse Ray + Flatter. They have no legitimate use [yeah I haven't seen swagger + psych up in forever, and swagger in doubles is rare as a non-swagplay strat and is gimmicky, but if they want to keep it then that should be discussed]
It's not a complex ban, there's no reason to ban them in conjunction with prankster, since they're just as luck based (albeit less ineffective) with or without prankster..

Actually I want to ask what will happen to chatter?
Revising my position. I'm not sure whether a full ban is appropriate, but Swagplay is extremely tedious to play against and really can't be described as healthy for the metagame. Let's face it, matches like this


are a mockery of the game we're here to play. They're not fun and people only make teams like those to annoy people. It's a dice rolling match, unless you want to start switching to stall out the Swagger PP or something ridiculous like that.
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braine damaged
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One of the important things to consider when thinking about this is that a common archetype of team with 6 prankster swagger users is a lot easier to shut down than one that has actually been thought through a little.
It's entirely possible to handle SwagPlay through the use of bulkier Pokemon with recovery moves but anyone with half a brain will not just wang 6 SwagPlayers onto a team. To be as successful as possible, the SwagPlay teams that have had some thought put into them, often utilize strategies that can work around abilities such as Magic Bounce and moves like Taunt. They also often carry strong offensive Pokemon that can break through the walls and cores that can put a stop to the common SwagPlay archetype with ease.
If such a team is correctly built, it can easily stack the odds in it's favor regardless of the skill of the player using it. Whilst I'll admit this is true of any team, the extent to which SwagPlay can make it so easy to win without any real thought or skill is absurd and as such I don't think it's healthy for the metagame.

tl;dr SwagPlay forces the odds in favor of the person using it and means players with lower skill levels can beat better players based almost entirely on coinflips.
Were I asked a month ago about this, I wouldn't have considered this a big deal, but people trolling the ladder with whole teams of Pranksters during a suspect test (and worse, getting terrifyingly high rankings doing so) definitely makes me think otherwise.

I think, the most sensible option is to ban Swagger, and if the problem persists, Confusion-inducing moves (Swagger, Flatter, Confuse Ray) under a Confusion Clause. This is the simplest and easiest option out of the three, if we want to prevent the abuse of Swagplay. A complex ban is unnecessary imo, and as Endless Battle clause demonstrated, would only lead to different iterations of the basically same strategy (e.g. Flatter, Swagger + simple high speed, etc.). Banning all of the known offenders is impractical and would lead to collateral damage of more competitive strategies (dual screen Klefki and the like).

To clarify, this would only apply to moves, that solely cause confusion. Changing confusion mechanics is not possible, and would lead to all sorts of hairy problems with Outrage and stuff.
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I'm not sure if Swagger is the kind of thing that necessarily needs a ban. As much as I hate it, it's still a pretty terrible strategy that can be played around in almost all cases. There are perfectly viable pokemon that allow you to not lose to SwagPlay unless you have really terrible luck. I'm not denying that it's no fun to play against, and honestly, I'd rather be in a metagame without it. However, I don't think that just the fact that a lot of people hate it is a good enough reason for a ban, or we probably would have banned Drizzle last gen. I'll be happy if it goes, but I honestly don't think it's broken.

That said, if we are going to do some sort of ban, we absolutely cannot ban individual pokemon because Klefki and Sableye in particular have entirely legitimate uses in OU. If there is a ban, I think a ban of moves that cause confusion without dealing damage would be the best way to go.

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All we ever look for
Implement a confusion cause. Pokemon can no longer be confused. Ban moves that cause confusion 100% of the time, Remove confusion effect from other moves.
What? No, that's a terrible idea. There's no reason to rid the game of moves like Confuse Ray and No Guard Dynamic Punch when they're clearly not causing any problems.

Anyway, I support either of the first two options; they both eliminate the degenerate Swagger + Prankster strategy while allowing mons like Klefki, who otherwise have legitimate competitive uses, to stay legal.
Don't ban anything else. Swagger turning the match "into a series of coin-flips" is fundamentally the same as using any move with lower than --% accuracy. If you don't like variance, don't play pokemon. There are plenty of ways to counter swagger/confusion in general, and I feel that banning something because it is 'unfun' rather than 'unfair' takes too much bias and subjectivity into account.
Oh yay, this thread is finally here.

None of these would fix the problem. There is still Prankster + Confuse Ray/Flatter, so people could still abuse the strategy to a lesser extent.

Banning Prankster + Confusion in its entirety is the way to go here. It makes it so there's absolutely no way for people to luck out against those immune to Twave. If we go out of our way to actually ban this shit, we should, you know, ACTUALLY ban it and make sure that nobody can abuse Prankster Parafusion anymore.
Which Pokemon have access to this? Illumise? Sableye? Murkrow? Without the attack boost, none of the aforementioned will be able to capitalize well on the free turn the confusion might grant them. Moreover, not being able to abuse Foul Play makes their overall damage output negligible; you'd be better off only shooting for Prankster paralysis, and there are certainly much better options for that. I see no reason to unnecessarily ban strategies that are nowhere near as effective as SwagPlay.

Honestly, I'm in favor of banning Swagger + Prankster. We get to trash a strategy that stomps on the spirit of this game, and can keep other 'fun' strategies, like Swagger + Psych Up.
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There's absolutely no reason to ban a strategy so incredibly flawed and luck based.

I use an entire team based around swagwavesubplay for reaping in rage quits but people who don't leave at the sight of the team can figure out how ineffective it is.

Taunt can ruin an entire team. Sound based moves and multihit moves along with infiltrator cant ruin the entire team.
Not to mention magic bounce and syncronise can destroy the entire team. Mental herb and lum berry can open up a free opportunity to kill.
The pokemon can snap out of confusion on the first time and sweep
The pokemon can have own tempo on pokemon even as abundant as smeargle.
Limber and electric types cant be paralyzed.
Did I mention that another prankster can tear them a new asshole?
Switching gets rid of confusion.
Any bulky pokemon with low attack can cause a pokemon to stall out and struggle.

Banning swagplay is like banning paraflinch, you know what? Lets ban paraflinch and focus energy! What about attract? Thats luck based too! Lets ban the whole lot!

Banning something luck based just because it annoys you is not the correct answer, its a legitimate strategy and has been since the introduction of the moves themselves.
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