Rejected RE: Cloyster & Volcarona in BW OU [ Survey Post # 29 ]

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Some prior discussion of these Pokemon took place here, posting on behalf of myself and not the BW tiering council

Cloyster and Volcarona have been among the most controversial Pokemon in BW OU for a while now. Over the last few months, I have received a (large) handful of complaints about both and I experience some difficulties with them as well, so I think it is a good time to discuss these Pokemon. I am not personally firm on anything happening before the upcoming SPL (although not opposed -- some others have been quite outspoken about wanting action and that's part of why I am posting this), which starts in about 6 weeks, but I do think beginning discussion and seeing where support lies is for the best. I underline this as this is not a request for an immediate ban or suspect of any kind, but rather just trying to get discussions going to see what players think and feel. I will also relay information from this thread to the BW council chat as we have not had much to discuss for some months now.

One additional note here is that both Pokemon have been at the center of other tiering action with Cloyster being involved with King's Rock and Gems being banned while Volcarona was also involved with the ban of Gems. Normally we like to focus on the Pokemon first and keeping our banlists focused on Pokemon barring exceptional circumstances, but some outlier circumstances such as an uncompetitive, RNG focused item like King's Rock and a set of items that was a common thread in problems like Gems put us in an interesting position of trying to see how balanced things would become. At a certain point, however, a lot of people believe we should begin to look at the Pokemon themselves. So let's do that!

:Cloyster:

Cloyster has been one of the best set-up options in BW for a couple of years now, coming to prominence and a peak well after the generation's end. Initially it was used primarily as a cheesy win condition with King's Rock, puttng it one flinch away from getting extra kills often and a couple flinches away from potentially sweeping even the most prepared opponents outright. This got banned, so Cloyster pivoted to using Ice Gem and eventually Rock Gem thanks to the rise in gems being used with multi-hit moves. These gems allowed Cloyster to circument most common counterplay if it could get a Shell Smash off cleanly, which was one of the numerous contributing factors to the aformentioned gems ban.

Since then, Cloyster has maintained its place as a strong option in the metagame. Never-Melt Ice variants took over first as they allowed Cloyster to OHKO specially defensive Ferrothorn, Scarf Latios (Ice Shard), Tyranitar, Reuniclus, Gastrodon, Seismitoad, and others at +2. Soon thereafter dice and some others started to frequent Lum Berry, which allowed for Cloyster to mitigate the threat of Toxic from Gliscor, Bronzong (the first time), Excadrill, Politoed, Tentacruel, and others while eliminating burns from various Scald users Will-O-Wisp Jellicent. We have even seen niche options on Cloyster like Focus Sash when paired with Aerodactyl or Terrakion leads, normal moves like Spike Cannon or Double Edge with boosting items to potentially dispose of would-be checks like slightly chipped Keldeo, and various other fringe options. The underlying point is that a lot of the things older Cloyster did that made it problematic -- which was mainly being able to pick its own counterplay within the scheme of offenses -- Cloyster is beginning to do regardless. We have begun seeing Bronzong or Shadow Ball Jellicent as saving graces on balance teams frequently and offenses feel more of a need to fit one of Jirachi or Scizor if they cannot fit Magnezone, which conveniently covers the vast majority of Cloyster variants, than ever before. This makes Cloyster still plenty playable within the metagame, but quite restrictive overall in a metagame that cannot really afford that always.

:Volcarona:

Volcarona is a Pokemon we all know about: it is an annoying, dynamic sweeper with potential to snowball out of control and potential to dampen the mood on teambuilding. It adds quite a bit to the tier as it helps expand the scope of match-up coverage and pressure for offenses, but it ultimately is doing the same things now as it has done for many years, including when it drew the ire of players when it contributed to gems being banned.

The main functuonal difference is that Volcarona does not blow up Tyranitar at +1 after Stealth Rock with Bug Gem Bug Buzz now, which means variants with Rock Slide (or Crunch after chip/Thunder Wave if it is not Lum) can essentially trade with Volcarona, which tends to be a good trade as Tyranitar is not needed for the normal onsalught of physical sweepers we see alongside Volcarona on conventional offenses. Sure, things like Psychic Gem can be clutch for Tentacruel, but Lum Berry and the right coverage does a lot of the same things in the long haul while covering for other match-ups, too. The great Volcarona debate, unfortunately, is due for another chapter given all of this. I do find it contained a bit more possibly than Cloyster due to not being able to circumvent certain counterplay as it cannot bypass Sash from Alakazam or certain faster Scarf users as it lacks priority while Cloyster does not mind either of these, but Volcarona still is an incredibly cheesy Pokemon that requires a lot of strain on teambuilding and potential guesswork within the game to derive an optimal line of play to defeat it without losing the wrong things.

I hope those that are active and current in BW OU's metagame comment!
 
Basically what McMeghan said, but let's dive into the specifics.

Volcarona has always been a hot topic for me. Back in 2017, I pmd dice and asked if we could take some sort of action on it. The pokemon has always been absurd and it seems like it is to the rest of the community now too (36 person poll in the invitational discord : 70% wanting a Volcarona ban). Besides Quiver Dance, its 100 Base speed has been the most problematic aspect. His speed allows him to not get revenge killed by viable scarfers like Lando-T, and forces you to rely on either fast scarfers such as Chomp, Keldeo and Terrakion OR rely on what I call "hopeful counters" such as Tran or Dnite hoping to not face the wrong moveset. Let me be clear : both situations suck. In a tier where you have a lot protect users and good type coverage, using those scarfers are such momentum killers that you will probably regret using if you don't face Volc. Whereas if you bring Dnite or Tran, you will only know at the last second if your mon is really countering it. It's such a pain as a teambuilder to consider Volc in a tier that offers no flexibility.

Cloyster on the other hand is probably the most skilless-high reward mon in the tier right now. It requires less in the teambuilding process but usually has more impact in the game than Volcarona. You can easily kill your counters by getting one crit on a move that hits 5 times in one turn. You have tons of replays in the invitational thread illustrating how stupid it is, but the stupidest is probably the classic playoffs game Raiza vs Excal (https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-gen5ou-721928). Hitting enough speed to outspeed the whole tier and being able to ice shard 1HKO (+2 252+ Atk Never-Melt Ice Cloyster Ice Shard vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Latios: 332-392 (110.2 - 130.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO) the scarfers that outspeed you is simply unfair.

The worst part in all of this is probably the potential combination of two Healing Wishers in the back. I can't wrap my head around how absurd those first 4 rounds of BW Cup were this year. I found it crazy to see so many inexperienced people (BW wise) loading Volc-Cloy HO to get past rounds. It doesnt matter if you are good or not, if you load Aero Volc Cloy HO or Dice's HO Hail you will force a game vs someone that is way better than you are. Why ? Because you have very linear answers to situations when facing HO. It doesnt give much room for a gameplan or ingame even when played perfectly.

My personal take on the situation is the same as McMeghan, get them both out of the tier. However, I can understand the conservatism of some of the people in the council. Banning only Volcarona might give more flexibility teambuilding wise to afford answers for Cloyster while limiting HO's pressure. To be honest, I don't think it will be enough, but I can understand this point of view and would be willing to go in that direction in order to have a better tier and quality SPL.
 
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Quarante8

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Henlo, just gonna give my two cents (for whatever it's worth) on the issue :D

First, I think both mons are more of an issue in the builder than in game, which is why people have had back and forth arguments about both mons. In the builder, as long as you face someone who might bring a volc or a cloy, you have to prepare accordingly. Preparing accordingly often means restricting your own options in the builder, and I think that is the main issue there.

Now what if you face someone who refuses to ever play volcarona or cloyster? That always seemed like nonsense to me as both mons are just extremely strong, and, as i just mentionned above, just having them in your builder will force opponents to figure out checks and counters. Well guess what, you do not have to prep for them! I think this is the kind of mentality that allowed both mons to remain in the tier, lack of exposure by players who straight out refuse to play either mon despite them being broken. One could argue it is due to them having a lot of safe checks or counter though.

This is the core of the issue : volcarona has few to no counters, and a very small amount of checks. These include scarf chomp/keld/lati (though lati honestly sucks at handling volcarona), tyranitar and hippowdon (though these two are not all that reliable), alakazam and terrakion. Even terrakion, which is arguably the safest counter, needs to hit its move. Volcarona basically forces a fast scarfer, sand or terrakion on your team. Just that should be enough to see how restrictive it is on its own.

Let's take a look at cloyster now : it has even less checks than volcarona. These being keldeo, rotom-wash, magnezone and jirachi. Every other mon gets plowed by cloyster (looking at you bronzong +2 252+ Atk Never-Melt Ice Cloyster Icicle Spear (5 hits) vs. 252 HP / 168 Def Bronzong: 165-195 (48.8 - 57.6%) -- approx. 95.3% chance to 2HKO after Stealth Rock and Leftovers recovery).
Magnezone and rotom-wash can somehow be ruled out as well : magnezone is only viable on a very small amount of structures, its a very impractical pokemon. Rotom-wash is mostly/only seen in sand, meaning its gonna eat sand, eat stealth rocks, and just do what rotom-wash does best : some stuff early on. Obviously a chipped rwash is not gonna be able to handle cloyster, meaning that it is also impractical.
We're left with keldeo and jirachi. Jirachi is another quite impractical pokemon : it has a niche in rain teams, but is otherwise mostly seen in hyper offense. I will come back to this later. Now if you noticed, keldeo is the sole pokemon that handles both volcarona and cloyster : with its decent bulk, its capable of always taking a hit from cloyster and ko's back. Scarf keldeo is also capable of outspeeding adamant cloyster at +2. To go even further, keldeo is also good against other hyper offense mons, such as dragonite (outspeeds w scarf at +2) and scizor and garchomp and jirachi, i think you get my point. Basically the sole reliable check for not only volcarona, or cloyster, but the entire hyper offense archetype is scarf keldeo.

Coming now to what is actually important about cloyster and volcarona : they are (almost) exclusively hyper offense pokemons. That basically negates one of their base weakness : entering the field. Sure, both are extremely strong once on the field, but getting them here is one hell of a problem. Except if you play hyper offense, as hyper offense is totally fine with sacrificing a mon to get another one in. Meaning both volcarona and cloyster WILL get a free entry and setup at some point. The question then is do you lose on the spot to either? Well, you prolly have it figured out, but unless you have a HEALTHY check I mentionned before, you lose on the spot. It is that simple. And if you do not lose to volcarona and cloyster, you might just lose to the other hyper offense mons that come after them. So yeah, volcarona and cloyster are not a simple issue, but its moreso the fact that hyper offense heavily relies on them to wear down ANYTHING that is one complexe issue. Because one could argue that if you remove one/both of them, hyper offense will lose its place in the metagame.

That is the other idea that imo led to both of them not being banned yet. First people just not bringing them ever so they are somehow considered fine. Second this idea that if you ban both of them, you will kill hyper offense (these are the two only sensible arguments to keep them in the tier IMO). But is hyper offense finished with them gone? Probably not. Several hyper offense have had some success while not using either. Meaning it is definitely not the end of the world for hyper offense if both gets off the tier. Though yeah I would argue it will have an impact. Is hyper offense going to be worse? Surely yes. I do not think it is anywhere near a disaster though. Hyper offense will just have to rebuild itself around the remaining ho mons left.

To conclude (tldr), both volcarona and cloyster are major issues with very limited checks and counters that severely cripple building. A cripple that is somehow not so present as some people just refuse to ever play either mon, henceforth why they are still in the tier despite being major issues for years now. Hopefully there are not too many spelling issues with this as I just wrote it in one go. Peace
 

peng

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Torn on this one, it is very difficult.

At the end of SPL I believed Volcarona and Cloyster to be truly problematic, after what felt like a super volatile SPL. Clever HO builders had continued to expand the style with smart HWish and Screens variations that enabled mons like Volcarona and Cloyster in new ways, and it felt like trying to respect these with balanced teams was becoming increasingly difficult again, even after we removed Gems. To put it into perspective, HO went 9-2 vs Sand in SPL, and the only two losses were due to last-turn, game-losing critical hits, or else HO would literally have had an undefeated record vs Sand in the entire tournament. That should be alarming.

Bo1 SPL meta felt truly awful imo. Players get encouraged to focus on short-term scout reports, and the reward for taking risks in the teambuilder is high - whilst this is true for all styles and you can definitely build match-up fishy Sands and Rains too, I don't think its controversial to say that HO is the style most known for making its big decisions in the teambuilder and focusing less on in-battle agency.

The issue is that Quiver Dance and Shell Smash are excessively strong set-up moves that force you into quite specialised Pokemon if you ever want to be completely secure against Volcarona and Cloyster, as they overcome a lot of the generic counterplay you'd use for other set-up sweepers. Into many other sweepers you can leverage Scarfers, Alakazam, status, and priority options to give you outs against things that you didn't dedicate a hard counter to. Volcarona, though, outspeeds most scarfers at +1 and gains an SDef boost to deny an easy Scarf Latios / Keldeo revenge kill, whilst also annoying Scarf Garchomp with a burn chance. Its also resistant to all the common priority in the tier aside from Extremespeed (burn chance again!), and is now running Lum Berry to find set-up on status users. Cloyster is in a similar boat - getting to +2 +2 in a single turn puts it beyond revenge killing from all the good Scarfers aside from Ice-weak ones which fall to Ice Shard, and Ice Shard also helps it avoid revenge-killing from some opposing priority. It ignores Focus Sash users, mainly Alakazam.125 base attack moves from +2 Atk mean that Cloyster doesn't need boosting items to break through almost all non-resists, now giving it more freedom to run Lum Berry too and even set-up in front of Jellicent and Tentacruel.

The result of this is that playing vs Volc/Cloy is a matter of either having the specialised hard counterplay, or not having it - half-checks and scrappy outs aren't easy to find when you're facing down +2 +2 +2 sweepers. This would be fine if the hard answers to these Pokemon were all top tier choices, but only a couple of them are. Keldeo and Rotom-W are the easiest Cloy checks to fit on sand teams and handle it well enough, but have low longevity and can certainly be bypassed by HWish strats and 30%ish crit chance. Beyond these, Cloy counterplay doesn't look quite so good - Magnezone is solid but pretty specialised and often needs to dedicate itself to fighting the partnered steel, offensive Heatran is in a single crit range of Rock Blast whilst defensive Heatran is a mid meta call for other reasons, Jellicent needs to run Shadow Ball and is already focusing on spinblocking Starmie and is also cheeable with crit, Jirachi stacks defensive weaknesses with everything else you want to run, and then there's the niche steels like Forretress and Bronzong which are <5% usage for a reason. I think you can find smart solutions to patch up a Cloyster weakness with things like Sitrus Berry, or maybe something rogue like Earth Power on your support Lando-Ts, but you're really nerfing your best Pokemon there. Volc issues are similar, hard counterplay is really limited (Blissey Chansey Heatran Dragonite Terrakion) and several lose to the right item + coverage anyway. When the options are this limited + not even always reliable, it is understandable that players try to go without sometimes.

The reason I am torn is that firstly, new tools to combat these are still popping up and I'm interested to see where these go, but second, this entire issue seems to sort itself out when we play BW in Bo3. At least part of the issue we have here is a player mindset one - in Bo1 its inevitable that players are going to want to find an edge in the teambuilder with things like Cloyster supported by two other Ice types, hoping to capitalise on an opponent not running Ice resists but praying not to face any Keldeo, Heatran, or Terrakion. Both sides have taken massive teambuilder risks here and the resulting game in SPL was a thoroughly uninteresting whitewash, but in the Bo3 tournaments it felt like this element of the tier was significantly dialed down with more conservative building and an attempt to actually have good games of pokemon rather than chase teambuilder wins. Whilst Bo1 BW is an absolute variance shitshow, Bo3 BW kinda solves all of its own issues without necessarily needing tiering action.

I don't know where that leaves me. If we insist on some of our BW tours remaining Bo1 then I'd probably vote Ban on Volcarona. With Cloyster, I think its a question of how strong a punish is fair in a balanced metagame. Its absolutely fair that I am punished for running no Ice resists, but there's a gulf between say CB Mamoswine taking 1 free KO when it gets in then being forced out in return, and Cloyster getting to +2 +2 in a single turn, having the power to beat even max Def neutral targets, and the ability to overcome all common speed control, leaving it borderline unplayable. Take Terrakion for example - it has basically unresisted STAB pairing (so similar to a Cloyster facing a no Ice resist team) but despite this there's still plenty of counterplay when it sets up, in priority, speed control, generic physically defensive stuff - its clear that for other Pokemon its perfectly fine to not resist their STAB moves and still have room to outplay, most of them just don't have Shell Smash! There's just nothing quite like Cloyster when it comes to capitalising on and workflowing its good MUs, so I'm just not sure if the scale of the punishment meets the crime when Ice can legitimately be a hard typing to defensively cover considering the Pokemon available. I'd lean no Ban on Cloyster but I understand the qualms with it for sure.
 
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Cloyster on the other hand is probably the most skilless-high reward mon in the tier right now. It requires less in the teambuilding process but usually has more impact in the game than Volcarona. You can easily kill your counters by getting one crit on a move that hits 5 times in one turn. You have tons of replays in the invitational thread illustrating how stupid it is, but the stupidest is probably the classic playoffs game Raiza vs Excal (https://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-gen5ou-721928). Hitting enough speed to outspeed the whole tier and being able to ice shard 1HKO (+2 252+ Atk Never-Melt Ice Cloyster Ice Shard vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Latios: 332-392 (110.2 - 130.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO) the scarfers that outspeed you is simply unfair.
Respectfully, I don't think this replay is a good example of Cloyster being broken. I used a subpar Cloyster set (LO Spike Cannon) specifically to target the Keldeo sand structures Raiza had been using and that have been at the top of the metagame. In this replay, it was extremely difficult to find a setup opportunity, and I was only able to find one because Froslass got a Cursed Body proc. Then, I needed to get the necessary roll on Tentacruel to break through the rest of his team. I felt that this was an example of innovation and healthy teambuilding, as this set had never been used in a tournament before and it was made specifically to get a leg-up against the current meta. And even with LO and Spike Cannon, it required Spikes support (hence why Froslass was used) to even come close to guaranteeing the OHKO at +2 vs Keldeo.

Cloyster is super good but not quite broken to me. There's high opportunity cost for each item/moveset choice someone goes with and to curate that based on who you're facing, whether it's bo1 or bo3, involves skill and metagame knowledge. I see Cloyster as an antimeta Pokemon that can healthily disrupt greedy sand structures or give weatherless offense some leverage against rain. The Rapid Spin utility and strong physical defense helps to chaotically balance some strong physical attackers and reduces constraints on offensive teambuilding. "Circumventing common counterplay" comes with risk and sacrifice for more conventional matchups, as it does with pretty much any Pokemon. Checks are also plentiful enough and unexplored, in my opinion (Sitrus Berry = good item, Jirachi could use more exploration, Milotic (anti cloy/volc) surely is better in gemless meta, etc).

I don't find Volcarona broken either. Without Bug Gem, Tyranitar (who isn't really used to answer other HO mons) can be a reliable soft check on common sand structures. Idk, the 50% weakness to SR, lack of sand immunity, reliance on Fire Blast + Lum Berry to break through healthy Clefable, and difficulties against other sand mons (Hippowdon, Jellicent, Heatran, Terrakion, Keldeo, Psyshock Alakazam to name a few offhand) give enough counterplay for Volcarona when using sand (which it should excel strongly against). Without Lum Berry, Volcarona is way easier to deal with and Heatran is also uncommon & pretty underwhelming imo, so I don't think that much guesswork is involved. I understand why someone would find it restrictive, but I just don't think it's anywhere close to broken.

I don't think Cloyster and Volcarona are cheese. They're offensive setup sweepers and common metagame fixtures with defensive utility that should be top of mind for any BW builder. I think BW is very balanced and has a lot of room for innovation and diversity. I'm against any action on either of these Pokemon and think there should be more discussion on consequences for their removal as well.
 
I mostly agree with Excal’s post.

I also am not suggesting a ban on Reuniclus or Clefable or something, but answering those is a greater task than answering Volcarona / Cloyster right now. HO is viable but nowhere near the most dominant style - so I would only want to consider banning these pokemon if it meant automatically bringing back gems.

tldr: do nothing
 

Conflict

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100% on board with ABR's post. I don't even like using Cloyster or Volcarona and would personally not mind a ban much but Im not sure about the ramifications for the entire HO archetype. Both seem somewhat integral to HO and just banning both might make HO not worthwile.
Personally I believe Cloyster to be honestly a bigger issue because viable Ice-Resists in BW are hard to come by and Volcarona is more of a "paper-threat" to me by seemingly being broken in theory but rarely seems to convert this in-game mostly due to all the residual chip (+ often it has to have the perfect coverage to even do anything of note).


1) I think Reuniclus in particular is more "broken" to me than Cloy/Volc.
2) If we ban Volc/Cloy I would love to see Gems being brought back because those enable really cool sets when they arent abused by those 2.
[c) Please consider finally retesting Chloro+Sun-ban (like what was promised during its ban) cuz that shit isnt even close to broken with sleep + dug banned and would give HO something else to think about.]
 
Respectfully, I don't think this replay is a good example of Cloyster being broken. I used a subpar Cloyster set (LO Spike Cannon) specifically to target the Keldeo sand structures Raiza had been using and that have been at the top of the metagame. In this replay, it was extremely difficult to find a setup opportunity, and I was only able to find one because Froslass got a Cursed Body proc. Then, I needed to get the necessary roll on Tentacruel to break through the rest of his team. I felt that this was an example of innovation and healthy teambuilding, as this set had never been used in a tournament before and it was made specifically to get a leg-up against the current meta. And even with LO and Spike Cannon, it required Spikes support (hence why Froslass was used) to even come close to guaranteeing the OHKO at +2 vs Keldeo.

Cloyster is super good but not quite broken to me. There's high opportunity cost for each item/moveset choice someone goes with and to curate that based on who you're facing, whether it's bo1 or bo3, involves skill and metagame knowledge. I see Cloyster as an antimeta Pokemon that can healthily disrupt greedy sand structures or give weatherless offense some leverage against rain. The Rapid Spin utility and strong physical defense helps to chaotically balance some strong physical attackers and reduces constraints on offensive teambuilding. "Circumventing common counterplay" comes with risk and sacrifice for more conventional matchups, as it does with pretty much any Pokemon. Checks are also plentiful enough and unexplored, in my opinion (Sitrus Berry = good item, Jirachi could use more exploration, Milotic (anti cloy/volc) surely is better in gemless meta, etc).

I don't find Volcarona broken either. Without Bug Gem, Tyranitar (who isn't really used to answer other HO mons) can be a reliable soft check on common sand structures. Idk, the 50% weakness to SR, lack of sand immunity, reliance on Fire Blast + Lum Berry to break through healthy Clefable, and difficulties against other sand mons (Hippowdon, Jellicent, Heatran, Terrakion, Keldeo, Psyshock Alakazam to name a few offhand) give enough counterplay for Volcarona when using sand (which it should excel strongly against). Without Lum Berry, Volcarona is way easier to deal with and Heatran is also uncommon & pretty underwhelming imo, so I don't think that much guesswork is involved. I understand why someone would find it restrictive, but I just don't think it's anywhere close to broken.

I don't think Cloyster and Volcarona are cheese. They're offensive setup sweepers and common metagame fixtures with defensive utility that should be top of mind for any BW builder. I think BW is very balanced and has a lot of room for innovation and diversity. I'm against any action on either of these Pokemon and think there should be more discussion on consequences for their removal as well.
Most of the answers you have given to the raised issues are either very simplistic or more theoretical than practical. As much as I value your teambuilding skills and how often you think outside the box, it's important to make this clear : BW2 OU is not uncharted territory. People who think that we can still discover new ways to deal with HO pressure are those who don't play the tier on a regular basis. We had 314 teams used in the BW Invitational and not a single one included Milotic, while we had Zebstrika, and Sharpedo usage. Why ? You would have to trade so much vs other MU to fit that Milotic in your team. The innovation room you are talking about is idealistic.

One key aspect that needs to be discussed is how these two pokemon pressure without having the need to setup. You are saying that you will send Ttar/Terrak to check on Volc implying that your opponent will simply QD into switching/dying. Assuming this is common practice in high level games is simply untrue. When pairing volc/cloy with HWshers in the back, you can simply hit the switch in and chip it, allowing you to come back in later in order to set up and sweep. There have been several instances in tournaments with Volc using Bug Buzz on the first Ttar switch in, and then coming back in later to actually set up and sweep. Same scenario with Cloyster vs Rotom-W/Keldeo. There is a serious case for using Spike Cannon over Rock Blast on Cloyster now since it also has rolls (not even accounting for crits chances) to win vs Rain, so there may not even be a need to chip anything prior to setting up.

I'm not saying that we should ban them right away, but majority of active BW players think we need to do something about it, and that a suspect test would be more than welcome.
 

Sage

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I really don't think HOs power level is in any way out of wack compared to the most dominant team styles, and nerfing them feels unnecessary to me looking at the balance currently and from my experience in invitational building / selecting teams. We are starting to see trends that raise the difficulty for Cloyster getting brainless setup and win victories against sand be it with items (Sitrus), coverage, EV spreads (Ferro phys def), or usage (Jirachi uptick feels relevant to this). Moth has more of a case to being banned for raising builder issues to me since it has a much less robust pure list of mons that can handle it on paper but as somebody who likes using it on BO as well as HO i never really felt like I was choosing an auto win button, vs. something that needed lots of dedicated support and field management to be rewarding.

With them currently sporting ~8% usage from the Invitational (win rate is not a stat you can cherry pick for arguments without actually analyzing all the replays but for clarity both had around 40% in the tournament), they've seen some solid usage but I would not say are entrenched in the most common matchups. Not arguing that lower usage mons can't be unhealthy in a tier, but I don't think they are quite as constraining as depicted by some complaints, moreso they surged in a point of the meta cycle where many players were cheating counterpin the fem ban aftermath. I don't particularly care to either outcome (I think both have traits that feel helpful as a builder, though moreso Cloyster here for its utility movepool at times), but it seems like a misfire to me that this is the biggest problem facing the tier.
 

Monai

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The lack of splashability to super reliable Volc/Cloy checks was a huge problem during Gem meta. Now that they're gone, I believe there's more room to check Volc with mons that can take a big neutral attack like Tar/Hippo/Chomp/Toed/Tenta or w/e without having to resort to much more specific checks like Tran. QD's Speed Boost also invalidates many scarfers, but faster scarfers are still capable of getting damage off on Volc.

However, I don't think this has extended to Cloy. Mons like Rotom, Keld, and Reuni seem like reliable checks at face value, but Keldeo can only swap in once, and even max physdef Rotom and Sitrus Reuni/Ferro can get cheesed by the ~30% chance for a crit to happen on 1/5 attacks. Since these splashable pokemon aren't reliable checks, you're forced to give it maximum respect in the teambuilder if you don't want to be 6-0'd off of what's essentially a scald burn chance. A counterpoint to this is to run the much harder checks like Jira/Mag/Zong/Slowbro. While these mons are great, they're much more specific and harder to build with the rest of the metagame in mind. I hope the scarf terrak enjoyers get jolly cloyd btw.

Tl;dr Volc is at least in theory nuanced enough to check with different options like scarfers/bulk/zam/rocks. Cloy requires way more specific counterplay to a very unhealthy degree.
 


Volcarona doesn't quite fit the definition of "broken". It is hardly a meta-defining Pokémon, sitting at #26 with a 40% win rate in Invitational and #23 with a 47% win rate in Classic. To be honest, it's kind of mid in a lot of games. That doesn't mean it's fair. To beat every Volcarona you have two options: run Chansey or Blissey, which only fit into very specific team compositions; or run a very fast scarfer like Garchomp or Terrakion, who are so good against generic offense but deadweight against defensive teams, which are becoming more and more optimized as time goes by.

If you're not running either, you are always at risk of being 6-0'd by a Volcarona set. It can pick what it wants to beat. Your Tyranitar can meet a Modest Insect Plate Bug Buzz (84-99%), your (Thunder Waver) can meet Lum Berry, your Dragonite can meet HP Ice (yes it's viable), even your Rock Slide Hippowdon can meet a Charti Berry, you get the idea. It's frustrating how easy it is for Volcarona to setup and just win if they have the right moveset for the game. The resistance to three of the most common priority moves (Mach Punch, Bullet Punch, Ice Shard) doesn't help either.

Sure, more often than not, the Volcarona check will work and will neutralize it or get a favorable trade. But it's a Pokémon that lives and dies on team preview and I believe that this is largely unhealthy. As other users have pointed out, this would be much less of an issue if we had best-of-threes in every competition. Unfortunately, many of our most prestigious competitions are conducted in best-of-ones, where Volcarona has managed to cheese its way to hundreds of victories across multiple generations, and at a lot of them in BW OU. So I'm in favor of getting this thing out of here (and out of ORAS too). Ban please.



Cloyster's usage and win rate in the Invitational (#25 and 41%) and Classic (#26 and 43%) are similarly mediocre. Just like Volcarona, it also wins by pressing a button too often due to its incredible brute force potential. A single critical hit out of its five hits can mean game over. It's also capable of cheesing some of its checks with tools like Lum Berry, (Normal-type move), Life Orb, and even Explosion. The list of Pokémon that it can simply send to god in one hit at +2 is ridiculous, surpassing multiple Pokémon that have been banned for being too overpowered before, and is also much larger than Volcarona's.

However, a few factors make me feel different about it. Firstly, despite being so braindead, Cloyster has more defined checks than Volcarona that fit into a much larger array of teams. Ferrothorn (Impish), Keldeo, Politoed, Rotom-W (Bold), Magnezone, Jirachi, Slowbro, Jellicent (Shadow Ball), Forretress, Bronzong, etc. Landorus-Therian is also, funningly enough, an "answer", as Cloyster rarely sets up twice per game and you can use it to drop it's attack (yes it will die, I'm not stupid, but it will stop a 6-0). Cloyster can often brute force through all of these with a crit or minimal chip damage and that makes it quite busted, but it still has a much, much larger list of checks compared to Volcarona.

The other notable aspect to me is that Cloyster has more positive contributions to the metagame than Volcarona. Without Cloyster, hyper-offensive teams would be locked into Starmie for spinning, making the playstyle quite weak in my opinion, we all know how to beat Smurf in 2023. Ice Shard is also an extremely nice tool to have, punishing scarfers that would otherwise just effortlessly win against this playstyle.

Cloyster also punishes some broken elements of the tier severely, who otherwise would be even stronger, such as Sand Force Excadrill and Magic Guard spam. Yes, Volcarona often punishes them too, plus it punishes Latios's Draco Meteor, so why did I not list this as a positive for keeping Volcarona? Well, I believe the negatives clearly outweight that positive in Volcarona's case, and in Closyter's case, I'm not sure. I would vote Do No Ban on Cloyster for now but if it continues to cheese wins and if it's proven that resisting an Ice monster is too hard in this tier, I could easily change my mind.



Not the thread for it so I won't elaborate, but I would ban these guys too. I don't care that the meta will shift completely, I don't care if there will be chaos, BW is easily the generation I've played the most games in since childhood and I'm sick of hearing endless complaints about BW since I was a kid and yet we can't do too much about it because the castle will collapse. Personally I'm totally down to let it collapse then we rebuild a better castle.

And give me back my dog, smh
 
I think that banning both would be a good idea, we could extend teambuilding even further by exploring new ideas where we no longer have to worry about losing against a cloyster or volcarona.
Nowadays, not wanting to lose against Cloyster and Volcarona limits us a lot when it comes to teambuilding, due to their lack of viable checks and counters, as well as their difficulty to play around, because it is a like basic rule of teambuilding to not to be weak to those Pokémon.
 
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Not the thread for it so I won't elaborate, but I would ban these guys too. I don't care that the meta will shift completely, I don't care if there will be chaos, BW is easily the generation I've played the most games in since childhood and I'm sick of hearing endless complaints about BW since I was a kid and yet we can't do too much about it because the castle will collapse. Personally I'm totally down to let it collapse then we rebuild a better castle.

And give me back my dog, smh
Although I personally agree w what monai said on the question of volc/cloy, I don’t play bw consistently enough to feel like my opinion has a lot of weight.

But, along this train of thought at the end, I wonder if there’s an appetite to do a full modern retiering of BW OU? I think w the success of the approach Adv UU has taken, it could be a good starting point. Im talking not like 2011 style let’s unban everything or free sand veil/baton pass/shadow tag/arena trap, but the more controversial aspects like aldaron’s proposal, potentially freeing sand rush/chlorophyll, gems, or banning/freeing the mons rewer mentioned at the end (obviously the big one here).

BW OU only really gets played in big tours during spl and monai’s invite, and while yea, this would cause a lot of chaos and potential voters could be an issue, it could finally solve the problem of why so many people dislike the tier. You could also wait until after spl and have 9 months to work with? Although for dpp ou, it took years to figure out the repercussions of Latias being dropped, bw ou could be the same especially w mass banning/unban. I’m just spitballing here, could be cool to explore.
 
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Karxrida

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But, along this train of thought at the end, I wonder if there’s an appetite to do a full modern retiering of BW OU? I think w the success of the approach Adv UU has taken, it could be a good starting point. Im talking not like 2011 style let’s unban everything or free sand veil/baton pass/shadow tag/arena trap, but the more controversial aspects like aldaron’s proposal, potentially freeing sand rush/chlorophyll, gems, or banning/freeing the mons rewer mentioned at the end (obviously the big one here).
While I've never been super knowledgeable about this meta (as you can see by my join date, I showed up right before XY started), I've always found Aldaron's Proposal kind of abhorrent from a tiering philosophy/site policy perspective and it's probably the gen's original sin. Kinda want to see that thrown out and have Kermit the Frog crucified like he always should have been. However, this would definitely necessitate a hard reset due to how stupidly influential Rain was on the tier's history and its ties to several bans. Though its removal could somehow influence how good Volc and Cloy are and make this discussion irrelevant for all I know lol.
 
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While I've never been super knowledgeable about this meta (as you can see by my join date, I showed up right before XY started), I've always found Aldaron's Proposal kind of abhorrent from a tiering philosophy/site policy perspective and it's probably the gen's original sin. Kinda want to see that thrown out and have Kermit the Frog crucified like he always should have been. However, this would definitely necessitate a hard reset due to how stupidly influential Rain was on the tier's history and its ties to several bans. Though its removal could somehow influence how good Volc and Cloy are and make this discussion irrelevant for all I know lol.
Aldaron's Proposal is indeed abhorrent from a tiering philosophy/site policy perspective and a major sin. However, keep in mind that the only way the proposal being approved or not changes the course of history, is if Drizzle got banned instead. Sadly, it lost the vote one round prior. https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/ou-round-1-ability-suspect-voting.84149/page-2#post-3212568.

A supermajority of 60% was needed back then, and Drizzle reached 58%. Yes, if anyone who voted Do Not Ban or Abstain voted Ban instead, we would be playing a completely different game today.

People hated all the Kingdra pump spam, but recognized that rain kept those evil sand abusers such as Sand Rush Excadrill, Sand Veil Garchomp and Landorus-I in check, which sparked the idea two weeks later: https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/weather-abilities-but-mostly-drizzle.84966/

So, I guess we only got ourselves to blame.
 


Not the thread for it so I won't elaborate, but I would ban these guys too. I don't care that the meta will shift completely, I don't care if there will be chaos, BW is easily the generation I've played the most games in since childhood and I'm sick of hearing endless complaints about BW since I was a kid and yet we can't do too much about it because the castle will collapse. Personally I'm totally down to let it collapse then we rebuild a better castle.
Refusing to address the core problems of BW (I would add Drizzle to this list btw) by saying it is too late to completely upend the tier from its established identity has continuously failed us. We wind up searching for solutions that will make the metagame better/more bearable through the lens of "this is just what the gen is, and we have to make do," i.e. we cannot change what makes the tier what it is, even if that is the cause of the tier's problems. Whatever balance is to be found in it winds up being short-lived as either an established metagame style gets pushed to too much of an optimization/extreme, finding itself overwhelming for the rest of the metagame (optimized sand/rain/sun all having been considered broken), or something off-beat/risky pops up to disrupt it (HO).

This issue is not new, either. Here's a quick history of how BW's brokens have been ignored. (All this is public information if anyone feels like digging.)

XY was announced at the beginning of 2013. The (inactive/incompetent/indifferent) OU council declared that despite it being January, and XY being released in October, it was too late to make any major changes to BW (Drizzle). They (and many players close to them) publicly stated their belief that trying to fix BW more trouble than it was worth, ignoring that BW would continue to be played in major tournaments post-XY.

Everyone (bar a few select players) hates the metagame so much they are glad to be rid of it, now only forcing themselves to play it for Smogon Tour but not really invested in it anymore. Old gen tiering doesn't really exist, so there's not really any authority on the subject. Thus, it takes until mid-2015, where Ojama and McMeghan (basically) force the ChloroSun ban and the reintroduction of Excadrill into existence.

Here is a great example of how these solutions fail when they don't address the core issues of the tier. Reuniclus was also considered broken at this time. People forgot about it with this new metagame. A few years later, people realized that essentially nothing had changed, and Reuniclus was fundamentally just as overwhelming as it had been. (Around this time is when people started realizing Latios was insanely busted as well.)

Of course, around this time, there are more controversial elements around--Excadrill rain, Dugtrio sun--and thus, old gen tiering really started. Around this time, there were players outspoken against banning these as opposed to the elephants in the room, Drizzle/Latios/Keldeo (and now Thundurus would be lumped in with them). This wasn't an option at the time, but imagine if we had taken that plunge then. It's now five years later, quite a bit of time for a definitive shape for this new metagame to have been developed. Instead, during that time we have continuously dealt with the same issues, over and over, and the tier's problematic core dynamic remains. (No, freeing Chlorophyll would not help.) As a result, we have had the same thread pop up in some form every year for the past several years.

If you want to continue to let BW rot by repeatedly addressing anything but its core issues, fine. If you want to break this cycle, at some point you are going to have to accept that you will have to deal with a vastly different metagame for some time. Alternatively, you can complain about (insert broken thing here) for the millionth time and not attempt to change it, instead trying to fix the problem with Band-Aid solutions.

(Some players will play anything they're given and enjoy it. This doesn't necessarily make for a valid argument against bans. Just today in the BW Discord it was mentioned how the Excadrill/Thundurus-I BW1 metagame was actually very enjoyable.)

Regarding the matter more immediately at hand, I find Volcarona and Cloyster are clearly degenerate attempts at autowin buttons, no matter how much one might try to justify their cheese as something innately skillful. Even cheesy things can be used skillfully, and optimization can be wrought from them. It doesn't literally have to be Moody. This kind of argument is akin to arguing something like Deoxys-D wasn't broken because you had to take its countermeasures into account to get the most out of it. The tier would be better off without Volc/Cloy, but they pale in comparison to the necessity of addressing the actual problems at the core of BW, unless you want to be fine with preserving something broken because it can beat something else that's broken.
 

SoulWind

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Refusing to address the core problems of BW (I would add Drizzle to this list btw) by saying it is too late to completely upend the tier from its established identity has continuously failed us. We wind up searching for solutions that will make the metagame better/more bearable through the lens of "this is just what the gen is, and we have to make do," i.e. we cannot change what makes the tier what it is, even if that is the cause of the tier's problems. Whatever balance is to be found in it winds up being short-lived as either an established metagame style gets pushed to too much of an optimization/extreme, finding itself overwhelming for the rest of the metagame (optimized sand/rain/sun all having been considered broken), or something off-beat/risky pops up to disrupt it (HO).

This issue is not new, either. Here's a quick history of how BW's brokens have been ignored. (All this is public information if anyone feels like digging.)

XY was announced at the beginning of 2013. The (inactive/incompetent/indifferent) OU council declared that despite it being January, and XY being released in October, it was too late to make any major changes to BW (Drizzle). They (and many players close to them) publicly stated their belief that trying to fix BW more trouble than it was worth, ignoring that BW would continue to be played in major tournaments post-XY.

Everyone (bar a few select players) hates the metagame so much they are glad to be rid of it, now only forcing themselves to play it for Smogon Tour but not really invested in it anymore. Old gen tiering doesn't really exist, so there's not really any authority on the subject. Thus, it takes until mid-2015, where Ojama and McMeghan (basically) force the ChloroSun ban and the reintroduction of Excadrill into existence.

Here is a great example of how these solutions fail when they don't address the core issues of the tier. Reuniclus was also considered broken at this time. People forgot about it with this new metagame. A few years later, people realized that essentially nothing had changed, and Reuniclus was fundamentally just as overwhelming as it had been. (Around this time is when people started realizing Latios was insanely busted as well.)

Of course, around this time, there are more controversial elements around--Excadrill rain, Dugtrio sun--and thus, old gen tiering really started. Around this time, there were players outspoken against banning these as opposed to the elephants in the room, Drizzle/Latios/Keldeo (and now Thundurus would be lumped in with them). This wasn't an option at the time, but imagine if we had taken that plunge then. It's now five years later, quite a bit of time for a definitive shape for this new metagame to have been developed. Instead, during that time we have continuously dealt with the same issues, over and over, and the tier's problematic core dynamic remains. (No, freeing Chlorophyll would not help.) As a result, we have had the same thread pop up in some form every year for the past several years.

If you want to continue to let BW rot by repeatedly addressing anything but its core issues, fine. If you want to break this cycle, at some point you are going to have to accept that you will have to deal with a vastly different metagame for some time. Alternatively, you can complain about (insert broken thing here) for the millionth time and not attempt to change it, instead trying to fix the problem with Band-Aid solutions.

(Some players will play anything they're given and enjoy it. This doesn't necessarily make for a valid argument against bans. Just today in the BW Discord it was mentioned how the Excadrill/Thundurus-I BW1 metagame was actually very enjoyable.)

Regarding the matter more immediately at hand, I find Volcarona and Cloyster are clearly degenerate attempts at autowin buttons, no matter how much one might try to justify their cheese as something innately skillful. Even cheesy things can be used skillfully, and optimization can be wrought from them. It doesn't literally have to be Moody. This kind of argument is akin to arguing something like Deoxys-D wasn't broken because you had to take its countermeasures into account to get the most out of it. The tier would be better off without Volc/Cloy, but they pale in comparison to the necessity of addressing the actual problems at the core of BW, unless you want to be fine with preserving something broken because it can beat something else that's broken.
I want to read your proposal. Elaborate if you can, please.
 
First off, obviously none of these are feasible Right Now so I would definitely support immediate action on Volc/Cloy!

Anyway, re my idealism, you can do these all at once, one at a time, or some combination thereof, and go from there

Ban Drizzle
Ban Latios + Keldeo + Thundurus-Therian - this is something that was seriously considered among several active BW council members, including yourself, and then it sadly disappeared
Ban Reuniclus
Ban Scald

I'm sure there are other good ideas (probably involving Excadrill) someone could come up with they wanted to improve the tier and were not limited by the straitjacket of maintaining BW's current identity. It would be preferable to doing nothing!

e: how did I forget - if you REALLY want to wipe the slate clean, start off with BW ubers (an excellent metagame) and adjust it how you like!
 
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