X Items, Tier Lists, and their Application

Colonel M

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I have decided to take the discussion of the what would be current decisions on X Items and their use within in-game tier lists and create a thread here. Get ready folks - Christmas is coming to town and there's a lot within this sack to talk about.

So for starters we need to discuss why this thread exists. Within the current discussion X Items were brought up on occasion for helping the player clear the game more efficiently. Now while I understand people like discussing tier lists for the sake of an article I personally like to take things a little further with the science and research of things as I can attest with in my Fire Emblem days of tiering. Constantly efficiency has been tested with the allowance of DexNav, Exp Share, and X Items and, thus, I have decided to discuss about X Items and why I feel they should be allowed within tier lists for placing Pokemon. Apparently the discussion mentioned something about this being a hidden rule - mainly it is not written anywhere within tier lists whatsoever from RBY on up (oh and GS / C doesn't have one. Future project). Keep in mind this is going to get very lengthy but I will attempt to break everything down into segments with the Hide tags.

Why X Items should be allowed
X Items are items that boost a Pokemon's stat by one stage or protect them from stat drops (Guard Spec. is rarely used, though). There are some exceptions such as RBY's X Items but we will go over why RBY may be a rare exception to the rule. X-Items have an opportunity cost associated with their use with real time (and turn(s)) to boost a Pokemon. Though X Items may not seem like very useful items in-game they can have significant benefits for a Pokemon. Such examples are:

- Using X Speed to outspeed certain Pokemon.
- Using X Attack / Special Attack to obtain clutch OHKO / 2HKOes.
- Using X Accuracy to guarantee / increase chances of hitting certain attacks.
- Using X Defense / Special Defense to prevent 2HKOes / ease setup with other attacks.

In most general cases only X Speed, X Attack, and X Special Attack are likely to be used. There are possibly scenarios that call for X Defenses and Accuracy, though.

X Items are different from other items / things that have been banned such as DexNav, Exp Share, and glitches throughout the game. The items should be used solely for purposes of saving real time - the end-goal of an efficient playthrough.

How X Items are different from DexNav, Exp Share, and glitches
DexNav - DexNav often relies on RNG scenarios to obtain certain Pokemon that the trainer may be seeking. Whether this is for an egg move, hidden ability, or overleveling these methods usually cost real time and in-game time and are never guaranteed to the player (such as automatically finding a Level 18 Tailow immediately after using the DexNav). X Items guarantee that a Pokemon obtains a boost at an opportunity cost much smaller than that of DexNav for a specific Pokemon. In the end DexNav is very difficult to compare to X Items; however, it has a much greater opportunity cost for likely much smaller reward.

Exp Share - Oft compared, Exp Share and X Items vary greatly. While both superfluously boost a Pokemon's performance Exp Share can completely mask a Pokemon's weak point by having the Pokemon sit within the bench and then come out once it has caught up / evolved. Such examples are Magikarp and Slakoth - two Pokemon that no amount of X Items can really salvage barring strict soloing scenarios while Exp Share bypasses their problem of not being good combatants until they evolve. Another good example is taking a Pokemon caught at a significantly lower level than the player's party and having it sit within the bench until it is roughly caught up and can obtain its own experience. X Items are not necessarily an unlimited resource with no real cost attached to it - all the player has to do is turn Exp Share on and, at worst, read some extra text. Exp Share can also allow the trainer to finish the game in a significantly faster time without needing much training. If the player opts to train about the same as a trainer who may have Exp Share off the comparisons of many Pokemon can become very stale.

Glitches - Glitches, unlike Exp Share, have often been stated as against the rules. Though they may grant the player a much more efficient method of completing the game it often does it through unintended methods. Though these are debatable, many tier lists have outlined that glitches have often been banned from discussion. As to quote from the RBY In-game Tier List:
Due to the large effect they would have on the tier list, the Missingno. and Mew glitches are not considered in tiering.
Counterarguments and rebuttals against the use of X Items
As outlined many players that have been within tier lists have questioned why X Items should even be allowed and have used various methods to attempt to prevent the tier lists from allowing these items. Below are some random examples that I have taken the liberty to rebuttal against. Bear in mind I have taken anything that could be seen as straw man completely out of the equation.
  • X Items can be used on any Pokemon... it can make certain unv iable Pokemon S Tier or all of them B at worst - Though this is dangerously close to not understanding the point of X Items (and even efficiency by all means) X Items do not necessarily save every Pokemon from existence. It would take a tremendous amount of X Items for some Pokemon that gain very small results at a large opportunity cost. I have decided to use a certain person's argument about Furfrou versus Roserade in XY. Though this also includes Exp Share the point still stands - X Items do not necessarily make a Pokemon in lower tiers simply better than those in higher tiers as the Pokemon in higher tiers can often use these X Items (and sometimes less amounts of them).
    Coincidentally Furfrou and Roselia come roughly at the same time as well. For now we'll ignore normal battles and we'll focus on important fights.

    - Furfrou would have to spam X Attacks and Rock Smash to even attempt to get through the second gym. Overleveling Roselia will probably be the only thing really necessary to do in order to crush Grant - or simply having the EXP Share on helps that.
    - Roselia would naturally have the advantage against Korrina barring Hawlucha - a match that Furfrou would still likely lose. If the player wanted to they could spam X Defenses on Roselia and deter the power from Hawlucha's Flying Press (it does neutral damage). Since Furfrou is simply using Fake Out turn 1 it's pretty safe to do. You could also spam X Specials if you were afraid of missing KOes with Mega / Giga Drain.
    - Roselia would still have the advantage here against Ramos barring the Jumpluff who probably isn't going to hurt an overleveled Roselia too much. Probably don't even need much for this one - Toxic + Venoshock kind of bones Gogoat and Weepingbell isn't doing shit.
    - Celmont is probably the first "notable" victory against Roselia only because it can handle Magneton and maybe Emolga better; however, Eviolite Roselia probably could leg up that match-up if its overleveled. Roserade probably could take a hit if overleveled too.
    - Roserade with Grass Knot should 2HKO Mawile and the other two are taken care of through an X Attack Poison Jab and holding a Poison Barb (this is assuming roughly Level 43). Furfrou always 2HKOes Mawile even with an X Attack (unless it is grossly higher leveled at this point). Oh and Mawile has Iron Defense. Lol.
    - Sigilyph here actually has Reflect and Light Screen. Though Furfrou can eventually get through once Reflect is down with STAB Return / Crunch it's still probably going to take X Attacks to do so. Though Roserade may want to opt out against Sigilyph STAB Petal Dance should murder both Slowking and Meowstic.
    - Sludge Bomb murders Abomasnow and Petal Dance should knock out Avalugg as well if Roserade had some training and a Miracle Seed (needs to be about Level 60). Furfrou at +6 will fail to OHKO Avalugg while Furfrou would risk being froze in the process (to answer the question to reliably 2HKO with Silk Scarf you need +3 X Attacks).

    And the E4:

    - Malva requires Furfrou to set up a couple X Attacks to really KO through everything (I believe Torkoal could withstand a +1 Bulldoze). Level 65 Roserade with Rain Dance + Weather Ball should OHKO everything in here without much trouble (-maybe- Talonflame at worst).
    - Aegislash-Shield is 2HKOed by Sunny Day Weather Ball while Klefki / Scizor are OHKOed. Probopass takes a huge dent from Grass Knot / Giga Drain at the least. Furfrou can only Bulldoze 3 Pokemon and has nothing SE against Scizor.
    - Water in favor of Roserade. No contest.
    - Dragon E4 member has some grip against Roserade so I will just conclude a win for Furfrou here.
    - Diantha neither can waste time to X up. Hawlucha is quite the threat with STAB Flying Press and Roserade doesnt have much better of a time. Roserade has a leg up against most of Diantha's Pokemon.

    Despite Furfrou's neutral coverage it barely makes an impact in the game without spamming X Items to death. Meanwhile Roselia (Roserade) makes enough of an impact with only small detours at worst and Heart Scale / TM use.
    The opposition argued that a Pokemon with neutral coverage can overtake a Pokemon higher within the tier list. In the example that I presented Furfrou barely makes enough of an impact with X Items (assuming they always existed) while Roselia (and Roserade) still do everything normally with occasional shortcuts with X Items for various reasons (OHKOing Mr Mime prevents the setup of Reflect which could harm the 2HKO against Sylveon with Poison Jab).

    Furthermore, X Items do not completely salvage Pokemon's issues completely. In some examples it can be beneficial for the trainer to use X Speed on Azumarill; however, it still comes at an opportunity cost of a turn and real time to scroll and use it. A Pokemon could possibly replicate what Azumarill does without X Speed and either match Azumarill or do better - often, but not always, the victor being the other Pokemon and not Azumarill. The more X Items used, the higher the opportunity cost of jeopardizing efficiency. So yes, while in theory you can use 6 X Attacks on a Shuckle and try to make it look like a B Tier Pokemon chances are a B Tier Pokemon can do what Shuckle does with much less amount of items / setup.

  • X Items potentially overshadow power-up moves - This also isn't true. X Items, again, have a greater opportunity cost because it requires the player to either buy the item and / or use the X Item as well. Also, remember that X Items do not do damage immediately upon use to the opponent whereas moves such as Charge Beam and Power-up Punch do. This is critical to understand because Pokemon with the Sturdy ability are still 2HKOed by a Pokemon that used an X Item and can OHKO them while the Pokemon using Charge Beam / Power-up Punch may still reliably 2HKO the opposing Pokemon with no item cost. Ergo, the winner would be the Pokemon with those moves over those with the X Item.

  • Tier List Philosophy - "Why change it?" - As often brought up as a rebuttal, for some apparent reason, is the classification of "we've done this for 12 years now without this being brought up. Why bring it up now?" I have decided to bullet point the reasoning behind why personally I have brought this up as well as some other players' opinions on the subject:
    • X Items still promote efficiency. Though a rule could be stated that X Items are not allowed, no such rule really exists. It is currently a hidden rule.
    • As saving real life time (and to an extent in-game time) is the goal of the efficiency of our tier lists, all viable options must be considered. This includes DexNav, Exp Share, and glitches. Glitches have often been banned from discussion since the beginning of time whereas Exp Share (Gen VI's anyway) and DexNav (ORAS) have been banned from discussion as well. However, there are other variations such as outside trades and Pokewalker that have been allowed in previous tier lists (and current ones for outside trades).
    • The amount of time between the soft-ban of X Items and now current discussion of it is slightly irrelevant. Often new strategies pop up throughout the years on various games and are discussed and considered. Though in-game tier lists have not had many uprisings before like X Items since its current "soft-ban" viable strategies have come up for use with these items with opportunity costs constrained with it. I feel the discussion never really was brought up again because no one really explored the possibilities of X Items in-game and were often ignored for use. The soft-ban probably has some applicability to it as well.

As a closing I would like to remind everyone that I am creating this thread to promote discussion and everyone, including myself, should limit the amount of mud-slinging on either side of the coin. The ultimate question: Should X-Items be considered in tier lists is the primary topic with your reasoning for or against it. You are also more than free to rebuttal my arguments within this thread and I will respond to them. Again as a reminder - this thread is very serious and should be treated as such.

Oh and there is no poll to prevent skewering of results.
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All things considered, I don't think that allowing x items will make any drastic impact on tiering discussions. We have to remember that tiering is relative stratification, so if we were to consider the extreme case where all Pokemon used all x items all the time, you're still going to have more or less the same relative utility for each Pokemon. It's also different from something like the exp share because with the exp share, you can bypass a "low period" for a Pokemon and thus only it's "high periods" are taken into account (that's not to say you shouldn't use the exp share when actually playing an efficient runthrough, just that when we are discussing relative utility of Pokemon, we shouldn't use it as justification for decisions). However, it's not like you're going to use x items every battle for every Pokemon all the time. Here's a comparison that might help us look at this issue from a different perspective:

We use potions throughout the game all the time. We use them during gym battles, against the elite 4, randomly in the middle of a long route, whatever. It's expected that we use them and we are given a lot of them for free by finding them on the ground. Potions (or berries or any other recovery item) are a finite resource that cost money (or time in the case of berries). X items are the same way - they are finite and cost money, but they can help when you need them.

We don't really take potions into account when we tier because I think we just assume we use them when we need them and that we use them sparingly. Obviously a Pokemon that uses a hyper potion after every single battle is going to be worse than a Pokemon that uses like 4 hyper potions the entire game. But you're not using hyper potions after/during every single battle. You probably really only use them for emergencies, during a gym battle, or when facing the e4. Now if we look at x items, you're not using x items during every battle throughout the game. You're probably using them for emergencies, during a gym battle, or when facing the e4 - exactly the same way you use potions, etc. If you have to use an x item every single battle for a given Pokemon, that Pokemon is probably terrible anyway - just the same as if you had to use a potion after every battle for it, and it should be tiered accordingly.

As an example, let's say Pokemon A can OHKO all of Steven's Pokemon, but it's slow and gets hit a lot. You can defeat him, but you're going to have to use a hyper potion halfway through the battle. If you instead use an x speed at the beginning of the battle, you can outspeed and OHKO every Pokemon without needing to use the hyper potion. They achieve the same result - so why treat them differently?

That being said, we don't ban discussion of potions when we're tiering - in fact if they are brought up at all, we take relative use into account for our tiering decisions. Remember, tiering is relative, so even if everyone got better (by approximately the same amount), the relative differences remain mostly the same, as does the tier list.

Because of this, I argue that using x items does not in any way "mask" weaknesses like the exp share does. If you're using them often enough to attempt to mask something (like using an x speed on something every match or a similar scenario) to try and make it perform at the level of something else, you can easily use that as justification that the thing that needs the x items is not as good as the one that does not.

To conclude, I would say that we should not ban discussion of x items, but that we should treat them like recovery items - they should be used judiciously and only when necessary, and we should not assume that their use will mask weaknesses by compensation, but rather that frequent use will help to highlight them instead.


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Since it's been mentioned a few times now...

I don't believe X items were ever really discussed much when we were doing the community RBY tier list, outside of X Accuracy. The only "soft ban" that was decided on was X Accuracy + OHKO, in the sense that we tried not to tier things based on whether they could use it or not. For me, the reason for discouraging it was (in addition to being quite a powerful strategy on its own) also related to just how many Pokemon had access to OHKO moves. For what it's worth, I wouldn't be as bothered if we allowed the combo for a GSC tier list because while the combo still works, the Fissure and Horn Drill TMs are gone and OHKO moves are only accessible to about 7 Pokemon from level-up movepools, so I don't think it would have as much of an impact beyond making Krabby, Goldeen and the others with access to those moves a bit better. But that's a topic for another thread.

Some might argue that X Accuracy + OHKO could also be banned under the no glitches rule, but the status of the combo as a "glitch" is debatable. I think it was intended for X Accuracy to work the way it did in the first 2 gens (i.e. cause all moves to ignore the accuracy check rather than simply raise accuracy by 1 stage, like how the ability No Guard works now), but I can't say for sure whether they intended for OHKO moves to by included with the other moves or if they planned to make OHKO moves an exception but didn't for some reason (and it carried over to GSC so...).

X Speed might have come up in relation to the X Accuracy + OHKO move since OHKO would always fail if the user had less Speed than the target and some of the slower Pokemon might need the help (the success or failure of OHKO moves was unrelated to the level of the user and the target in RBY, unlike the other gens) but other than that I don't think anyone ever bought them up in any arguments for tiers. I don't know if it's because of the apparent existance of this "unspoken ban" against them or if people simply did not know how they would affect things and so chose to ignore them, but it is what it is.

Anyway, I agree with a lot of what Ender has said and I don't really have anything to add to what's been said already. I don't have an issue with allowing X Items to be considered in tiering and I'm not convinced that they would be anywhere near as overpowered as Exp. Share. At the very least, I see no harm in trying it out in future projects - if things get out of hand with people trying to put things higher than they belong because "lol it can kill everything with 3 X Attacks and an X Speed!!!" we can always reassess this issue (but honestly I don't think that would be very likely since it's pretty obvious that a Pokemon that needs that kind of investment shouldn't rank highly).

Oh, and regarding the "average joe" thing mentioned in the last thread, I want to point out that for the RBY tier list, we often acknowledged that those games are far from linear when it comes to what order things are done. Badges 3-7 could pretty much be done in any order you wanted (Koga needed to be defeated before heading to Cinnabar so you could use Surf, but beyond that you have a good deal of freedom), and several of the story-based sections of the game could be too. This is important to note because we actually took this into account when tiering some Pokemon, particularly the "late-game" waters. Pokemon like Omanyte were actually very good if you chose to go for it as soon as possible, and this was reflected in their tiering despite not being something the average joe would do. So just going on that example, I don't think that the average joe argument is necessarily a good one to make against allowing certain things in tiering discussions.


Robot from the Future
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Okay so I have taken some time to read an examine this thread.

It all makes a lot of sense and you have swayed my opinion. Whilst I was reading over this, I came to the conclusion that the main reason X items were ignored in the XY list is because every match is 1/2 mons (3 at most excluding Rival, Elite 4, Champ and Magikarp man). As in, you waste a lot more time than you gain through using them as each match is smaller.

In ORAS, most trainers have 2/3/4 Pokemon (more in the 3/4 range) so it makes more sense to use X Items. I find the cost/effort of using them too high imo, and I think if you have to rely to much on them then it should be a negative impact overall on a tier listing.

I would say that having to use more than 1 (2 at max) X items should severely hamper a mons ranking. I think at that point you're wasting more turns setting up than actually battling.


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X Items certainly help maintain efficiency if that is actually what they're used for. I don't really even believe that X Items will shake up the tier lists as much as some people are predicting, and are thus scared to include them. X Items will only serve to supplement the power and movepool of a Pokemon and cannot stand to replace either one.

The longer battles do make using X Items far more viable than they were in past generations. Having a +1 Attack that allows you to sweep through a team of 4 in 4 turns could potentially save you a full minute or two of scrolling through text and getting hit by status/stupid AI moves.

As DHR-107 stated, X Items only reach effectiveness if used in moderation. Any more than 1 or 2 (pushing it) X Items starts to get into the range where a Pokemon is being artificially boosted beyond it's tier. Using more X Items than that leads to the items aiming to eliminate a flaw in power or movepool, whereas the real usage of the items should be to supplement those and increase efficiency.

The main point about X Items that I'm going to make is that they would only serve as time savers, not a cure-all for a bad Pokemon. Yes, Azumarill can beat this trainer. With the X Items, Azumarill can beat the trainer faster. Shuckle can't beat the trainer, but at +6, he can squeeze by. The first scenario is the way that X Items should be used in-game and the way they should be used in the tier list.

Colonel M

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For further sake of finding a ground, I think we can discuss about X Accuracy and RBY / GSC too. This mostly implies the former I believe but I think it works the same in GSC too (I was unable to find anything about it).

Atsync's post explains what X Accuracy does to Pokemon with OHKO moves such as Horn Drill and Fissure. Coincidentally this would not really change much with Nidos since they are already in the higher end of tiers. What it does affect is Pokemon like Goldeen and other random Horn Drill users in RBY. Fissure is thankfully really late and most mons either are ranked high, are still mediocre even with the advantage (Geodude), or have a slew of issues such as catch rate and such (Tauros).

Since we seem to agree the impact of X Items are important we should also discuss if there should be a modification to RBY / GSC insofar as X Items - mainly X Accuracy.


Robot from the Future
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Since we seem to agree the impact of X Items are important we should also discuss if there should be a modification to RBY / GSC insofar as X Items - mainly X Accuracy.
I'm pretty sure we can say that it is not an intended mechanic and I'm pretty sure (as atsync says) that it should remain soft banned in RBY tier lists. Reason it never comes up in GSC is because only a handful of mons learn OHKO moves, all of which are very late/awkwardly placed. It's probably worth a mention, but you would not rank a mon based on that glitch.

Colonel M

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I'm pretty sure we can say that it is not an intended mechanic and I'm pretty sure (as atsync says) that it should remain soft banned in RBY tier lists. Reason it never comes up in GSC is because only a handful of mons learn OHKO moves, all of which are very late/awkwardly placed. It's probably worth a mention, but you would not rank a mon based on that glitch.
I also agree.

I believe for RBY the item X Accuracy can remain banned from use. I dont know if X Items impact RBY otherwise and GSC Im just starting.

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