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RBY Solvability

Discussion in 'Analysis and Research' started by Ortheore, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Ortheore

    Ortheore Forums Moderator

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    In any game's life cycle, there comes a point where there is no more optimal style of play to discover. In a game like noughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe, if you prefer), a player needs simply to remember a sequence of plays and they can rest assured that they will never lose. It's theoretically possible to solve chess in a similar manner, by knowing every possible game state and what you and your opponent's options are, however the sheer number of possible game states in chess makes this practically impossible.

    What does this look like in other games? In Super Smash Bros Melee it looks like a series of Fox dittos with flawless tech skill and strategic execution (20XX). What would it look like in pokemon? That's an interesting question. Certainly luck can derail any theoretical solution, while team matchup also poses an obstacle to pokemon ever being solved. It's also worth pointing out that the optimal solution isn't always the correct one- it's one thing to know that Starmie is overall the best pokemon for the 5th slot in RBY, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea bringing it against someone who is known to spam electrics for instance. In spite of this, an equilibrium is likely to be reached, wherein the most optimal option is used a certain amount, its counter sees its own usage and so on, and those values see minimal fluctuation. The metagame doesn't increase in variety as the most optimal strategy has already been reached- instead less optimal strategies are gradually eliminated from usage, decreasing variety and making things feel stale. Perhaps the most notable thing is that the selection of pokemon that are commonly used becomes increasingly small, with large gulfs in usage and perceived viability appearing.

    The next question I'd ask is: has RBY reached such a state? I don't think anyone would dispute that Zam(L)/Big 4/Star is the best overall lineup (as much as I dislike Star), as Zam is clearly the best lead, big 4 are obvious and Starmie is both really good and has the fewest bad matchups of any 5th slot option in the game- Chansey is its obvious nemesis, but few things break it easily, especially with its excellent speed, coverage and access to TWave. Electrics are the obvious counter, but Zap is outsped and hit super effectively by Blizzard, while Jolt really dislikes para and generally has a worse big four matchup. I feel like there's an immense gap between A and B ranked pokemon- the A ranks are the pokemon that are your bread and butter, while anything lower is something you add for variety and to not get counterteamed (or to counterteam an opponent).

    It's also hard to see where the meta develops from here. For instance Reflect Chansey has so few bad matchups that it's clearly the optimal choice, while theoretical responses to such sets face their own challenges- Bro struggles against all of the top 5th slot picks, while AmnesiaLax just struggles to make good on its potential (I actually do think AmnesiaLax ought to be used more, but it's not quite a panacea either, for reasons that I can't quite put my thumb on). Another example: ReflectLax is again the most optimal choice, covering opposing Chansey and Lax, two pokemon that simply lack good answers. On the flipside, although Hyper Beam and Selfdestruct are really bloody good, they're not strictly necessary for Lax to fill its role

    So what do you guys think? How close is RBY to being as solved as it's possible for such a game to get?

    Inb4 the meta is wildly different in 6 months and we all have a good giggle that I ever proposed this idea
     
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  2. marcoasd

    marcoasd Host Emeritus

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    The key currently is the all-time low usage of (sleep inducing) leads - everybody's anti-leading. Is that going to last?
    Is that RBY OU di per se, or is it just RBY OU on PP?
    Question number 2: is Wrap going to make an impact? In my opinion, it won't due to both Wrap having weaknesses and top players preferring standard.

    Talking in general, we've reached a point where we know S4 are above the rest (maybe it's *Starmie/Alakazam* + S4) and I don't think anything else can be added to the set menu - this looks the solution of RBY 2015 to me.
    I could add some specific ideal moveset in case I've made up my mind on the last pokemon to use, but to me that's pretty automatic.

    The remaing composition of the team is shifting: the playerbase should know exactly matchups and moves, trying to get an edge over that specific opponent (or the field, in case we're talking about the ladder).
    I think only a limited number of guys reached that point where they can master this process: I got away with Starmie switching into Exeggutor too much for example - nobody was using Mega Drain even though it was pretty easy to predict I was going to use Starmie lead.
    Victreebel wasn't used at the time when Lapras was all over the place, Wrappers have been ostracized and the list goes on. Still, games can go both ways no-matter-what...


    After that, there are two options:
    A) you can get a consistent reward by successfully counterpicking
    B) you can't, so it just isn't worth the effort - you still need to use different stuff in order to avoid getting counterpicked
    I happened to be in the B situation for the most part as I think I was a trend setter and the guy who plays standard things safely.

    It's hard to counterpick people, considering that everybody changes a lot these days (those days of Lutra using Golem+Lapras and GGFan using Starmie lead and Slowbro every game are gone)- we all got a full grasp of the second part of that "B" option.
    On top of that, S4 are so centralizing that in most cases it isn't even easy to tell when counterpicking gave you an edge. Your GolDon might get exposed to Tauros due to early bad luck and your opponent's Zapdos might stay unrevealed; the opposite might be true as well so you don't even need to reveal your last pokemon.
    Your team's win rate for that matchup was, let's say, 65%, but if you happen to play those games where your choice didn't get reward and mix them with games that you lose to a bad matchup for that team, you're likely to stay away from that team.
    TL;DR: Basically, I'm saying that's not easy to gather significant stats and we're fishing in the dark a bit.

    - I don't think Alakazam is the best lead in RBY OU - it is when people don't use Double-Edge Exeggutor and they trade Snorlax with Chansey (which doesn't happen in case they use RestLax).
    I'm writing this with Starmie in my mind, but Gengar/Jynx were when I started writing this post.
    - I definitely agree on ReflectLax: if i was to play this SPL, i would use it. I think Amnesialax works better with Water-types like Slowbro or Cloyster, but I can't say I had a timespan when I crushed with it yet.
    - Slowbro is OK against most stuff, it has a bad time against Electric-types and needs to stay away from Starmie's CH TBolt range. It's hurt by the absence of RestLax and (sleep-inducing) leads, really.
    - Counter is disappeared and it should see more play.
    - Reflect Chansey struggles against Rhydon and RestLax: it allows opposing BeamBolt Chansey to go for the freeze (fishing for a well-timed Body Slam CH works too, but it's boring and just not as inevitable).
    Pressuring Chansey with Tauros instead of Snorlax might be the counterplay on Reflect Chansey's side, and that's costly.
     
  3. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Leader

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    I don't think RBY has or will in any time soon reach that point of being close to optimised. Maybe we reached something like that in the old metagame before the mechanics change, but I don't think we're at risk of seeing that play out in RBY 1U yet.
     
  4. Ortheore

    Ortheore Forums Moderator

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    A little belated, but why do you think that? Both in terms of the current meta and the ParaSlam one. Broadly speaking I think the playerbase over the past year or so has been stronger than at any time that I've experienced, but more importantly, I don't think Crystal's mechanics changes are enough to account for a lot of the ways the metagame has evolved- the decline of Gengar is, I think, a good example, as it wasn't really impacted greatly by the mechanic changes, instead its decline has been due to poor lead matchups and difficulty controlling the spread of status relative to other leads. That said, I honestly don't remember what the meta was like around the time of the mechanics change
     
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  5. Disaster Area

    Disaster Area Little Ball of Fur and Power Leader

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    I think in the old meta you had a team you might call the "best team" (Zam Lapras Big 4) and it was kind of at a point where you could say exactly what play you should make early on in the game. In the modern metagame we see a lot more variety of teams and sets which massively increases the number of possible scenarios to consider, and some Pokemon like Jolteon are the sort of Pokemon that cause a lot of mixed nash equilibriums. In the lead scenario, Jolt vs most Pokemon gives you more than 1 line of play so in an optimised scenario you'd have to figure out quite subtle stuff like that.

    The thing is ultimately there is so much "going on" in the game that even in the best case scenario:
    - simplest version of the game (so that would be RBY in some shape or form at least)
    - played the most (RBY old meta was played for approaching 2 decades)
    - few scenarios where there are mixed nash equilibriums (so, most scenarios, especially early on, 90%+ of the time you should choose to do a certain move or switch)
    - little team variety (the more teams there are and so on the greater the number of scenarios you would need to factor into describing the optimised game, and this usually means more mixed nash equilibriums too)

    it's still very difficult to describe what optimal play is beyond the first few turns

    rip rby2k10 btw, there was an old thread on there started by Jorgen talking about this; he effectively put together the most standard team and described how to play it in virtually every scenario. That's about as close as we get to real optimisation without the use of lots of computing power.
     
  6. marcoasd

    marcoasd Host Emeritus

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    I think we should regain contact with that...

    ???

    RBY OU currently is about matchup, RNG and guessing. Jolteon is a prime example of that: it can do really well, but it can disappoint a lot - it's very frail and mediocre pokemon overall, and I don't think it would pay off at high level right now (yeah, it put up good stats when I tested it a couple years ago).
    Matchups can shift real fast, that's just how yellow (and blue) magic shape RBY in general.
    The game is easily solved right now in terms of strategies - teams are very predictable besides from some gimmicks with little relevance in the long run, and you just decide turn by turn to either play safe or risk by going roshambo/rock-scissors-paper. You can't solve guessing, so... this is the game I guess.
     
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