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Balanced Hackmons, otherwise known as BH, has had a pretty odd history. The idea for Hackmons came from people in #insidescoop yelling at aeo, who is now known as Zarel, about implementing tiers such as Streetmons and Sharkmons. If you didn't already realize it, Hackmons is basically Sharkmons, but Zarel and Theorymon liked the name Hackmons more. Hackmons was around for quite a while and every match was mainly centered around 2 things: OHKO moves and Wonder Guard. While neither of those were uncounterable, they were very centralizing, which prevented other strategies from being viable. Yours truly suggested that another Hackmons tier where those things were banned would be interesting, and Zarel soon added that after a few chat-organized battles. Thus, "Balanced" Hackmons was born, although to be honest it's really "Less Centralized" Hackmons, but that wouldn't sound as good! A few months later, Pure Power and Huge Power were added to the banlist.
In Balanced Hackmons, you're allowed to use any move and ability on any Pokémon, even if they don't ordinarily have said move or ability. In addition, each Pokémon may have 252 EVs in every stat, which makes the metagame a lot more bulky. Because every Pokémon can use any move or ability, the sole factors that determine whether a Pokémon is viable or not are their stats, typing, and in some rare cases, such as for Latias, Latios, and Marowak, their signature item. As such, there is a much smaller roster of viable Pokémon. In Balanced Hackmons, it's not what Pokémon you use that makes the team, it's what you use on them. There is also no Team Preview in Balanced Hackmons, which makes dedicated lead Pokémon viable, although Team Preview doesn't affect the tier much outside of that because just seeing the opposing Pokémon wouldn't tell you much anyway.
With the removal of Pokémon-specific abilities and moves, and the greater importance placed on typing and base stats, Balanced Hackmons battlers have fewer things to consider and thus are able to more clearly identify a "best" Pokémon for any given role. Because of this, in Balanced Hackmons the creativity and choices don't come so much from the Pokémon as they do from the moves and abilities one gives them. With that being said, much like OU, some Pokémon fit into bigger niches, or more niches, or more useful niches, than others. Of the most useful and most used Pokémon in Balanced Hackmons throughout the ages, four come particularly to mind.
Deoxys-S boasts the highest Speed stat in the entire game, and is a large part of the Balanced Hackmons lead metagame. With Deoxys-S being the perfect Pokémon for setting up at the beginning of the match, the difference in leads is usually found in movepool and abilities as opposed to Pokémon selection. The three primary abilities that Deoxys-S will use are Prankster, Magic Bounce, and Mold Breaker, three abilities that operate in a sort of Rock / Paper / Scissors fashion. Mold Breaker negates Magic Bounce, Magic Bounce deflects Prankster, and Prankster outspeeds Mold Breaker.
The standard Deoxys-S will have Spore and one hazard. The remaining two moveslots are generally filled with other hazard moves, Rapid Spin, or Magic Coat.
While 50/90/90 defensive base stats may not seem like much, with 252 EVs in every stat, Deoxys-S manages to avoid getting OHKOed by the majority of the tier, giving it the one turn it needs to fulfill its primary objective of getting hazards up. That being said, Deoxys-S is not going to be doing any damage to you, so the focus of the lead metagame is centered around denying your opponent hazards instead of gaining an earlier 6-5 lead. With this in mind, the best way to go about handling Deoxys-S depends entirely on its ability. If they don't have Mold Breaker, using a Magic Bounce lead will shut them down, while Magic Coat handles Mold Breaker leads.
While Deoxys-S can avoid most OHKOs, it faces getting 2HKOed by the offensive powerhouses of the tier. When one needs a supporting Pokémon that can last the match, they turn to the single most bulky Pokémon in existence, Giratina. Between excellent 150/120/120 defensive stats and a helpful defensive typing, Giratina is able to run many different, equally effective sets. Popular sets include RestTalk with Dragon Tail, Shadow Tag Perish trap, and Prankster Whirlwind + Copycat.
Giratina is not without fault, however. With a plethora of Pokémon inhabiting the 90-100 base Speed stat range, Giratina often finds itself getting outpaced. Prankster helps, but it limits the number of sets you can use and does not address Giratina's biggest weakness, Magic Coat. That being said, if you aren't careful, Giratina can start a chain reaction of Prankster Copycat calling Whirlwind, easily racking up hazard damage and skipping your turn at the same time. The chain can be broken with ExtremeSpeed or the +1 priority moves with Pokémon possessing a base Speed stat over 90, but you risk Giratina Sporing you and repeating the cycle again, meaning Magic Bounce and Magic Coat are the best answers to Prankster Giratina. Shadow Tag Giratina is also extremely dangerous at short notice, being able to effectively remove a Pokémon from the match between Perish Song, Protect, and its amazing bulk. Correct timing between the opponent's Protect and the player's set-up moves is the best way to handle Shadow Tag while still having utility outside of such a scenario.
In the land where many Ubers aren't up to par one might wonder why Blissey would ever see use, but upon a closer look at Ditto's Dream World ability, Imposter, things become clear.
In a nutshell, Blissey will gain all of your opponent's strengths in addition to its colossal base 255 HP stat. Because of this, Blissey is easily the most dangerous Pokémon in Balanced Hackmons. Blissey is the kind of Pokémon that can turn a 1-6 into a win if it gets in on a set-up user and wins the Speed tie.
The most relevant part of Blissey that differs from person to person is its item, as its movepool and base stats (bar HP) are always those of the opponent. Primarily, Blissey is seen using Lum Berry to ward off Prankster Spore users or Choice Scarf to remove the Speed tie in make or break moments, such as against set-up sweepers or Baton Pass chains. It should be worth nothing that Choice Scarf greatly inhibits your ability to sweep and gears Blissey towards a revenge killer role. With the game mechanics blocking Pokémon from using Imposter on a Pokémon that has already disguised itself with Imposter, there exists the possibility of a very rare occurrence in which Blissey's moveset does matter. Wish, hazards, and Final Gambit are popular choices for their ability to capitalize on an opponent's inability to OHKO Blissey, the main reason that one would leave untransformed Blissey in.
While Blissey has all of your strengths, it also has all of your weaknesses, giving you all the tools you need to prepare for it. Successful teams can account for Blissey by being composed of a series of Pokémon that can all counter each other. For example, running Sturdy Shedinja gives you a failsafe option if Blissey manages to copy your Contrary user mid-sweep. Substitute and Illusion block Imposter and can be run in tandem with set-up sweepers and on Baton Pass teams. Finally, Pokémon-specific item boosts will not apply to Blissey, enabling Soul Dew Latios to take Blissey on one-on-one.
Last but not least is Shedinja, an incredibly powerful Pokémon whose usage in Balanced Hackmons has recently dropped due to the numerous ways one can easily eliminate it and the amount of effort required to make it work. That being said, if one is willing to make the time and effort necessary to support Shedinja, they will most certainly get their money's worth out of it.
The big selling point to Shedinja lies with its peculiar HP stat. Because Shedinja has full health at 1 HP, Sturdy will activate and allow Shedinja to "endure" the hit, but unlike other Pokémon, it will still be at full health, enabling it to use Sturdy time and time again, effectively giving Shedinja immunity to any attacking move. Shedinja is further able to make use of his low HP stat by combining the move Endeavor, which sets the opponent's HP level to Shedinja's, and priority moves to swiftly 2HKO his foes. In addition, due to a bug in PS, since every hit Shedinja takes is registered as "zero" damage, it is currently immune to secondary effects.
The big issue with Shedinja, and the reason why it has fallen from popularity, lies in the ease with which a prepared opponent can destroy him. Leading with a hail or sandstorm summoner, or getting Stealth Rock up on the opponent's side turns the match from 6-6 to 6-5 + fodder. While these hazards can be taken care of, the amount of care required to fully capitalize on Shedinja's immunity to physical damage has driven many players away from him.
Shadow Tag has an interesting history, being one of the most controversial abilities in Pokémon, going for two straight generations before a Pokémon possessing it was allowed out of Ubers and into the standard metagame. In BH, Shadow Tag is an incredible tool because of the same factor that contributed to its removal from the standard metagames of the past; primarily, that Shadow Tag allows you to set up a checkmate situation. The instant Wobbufett comes in on your Choice-locked Pokémon, all skill on your opponent's part is removed from the equation. However, there exists a noteworthy distinction between Shadow Tag in Balanced Hackmons and Shadow Tag in OU, namely the movepool of Shadow Taggers. As cool as Wobbufett is, he can neither set up nor attack and, more importantly, even after skill is removed from the equation, luck still can turn the tide against you. For better or for worse, given the right set up, a Shadow Tag team can guarantee victory on the first turn.
The typical lead to a Shadow Tag team is a Deoxys-S with the ability Shadow Tag, the item Choice Scarf, and the move Trick/Switcheroo. Using his Speed, Deoxys-S goes first and locks the opposing player into the move he has already selected. If the user uses a non-attacking move or a Normal/Fighting move on turn one, the game is effectively over. The receiver of the Scarf cannot do a thing but watch as the opponent's team of Shadow Tag users accumulates a Substitute and +6 in every stat, including evasion.
Because you won't be able to recognize a Shadow Tag Pokémon until you're trapped and at its mercy, handling it can be extremely difficult. U-turn, Volt Switch, and Baton Pass are effective ways to break your opponent's grasp on the match because of the utility they can provide outside of said situation. That being said, this only works if your opponent manages to trap a specific Pokémon on your team. You can comfortably remove your team's weakness to Shadow Tag by dedicating a Pokémon to handling the end result of the Baton Pass chain/set-up. As powerful and mighty as a +6 all stats Pokémon behind a Substitute is, it cannot stand in the way of Prankster Heart Swap, or Destiny Bond for that matter. Heart Swap can allow you to turn the tides and sweep with your opponent's boost, while Destiny Bond is usable in more circumstances.
Contrary has always been a curiosity, a potentially devastating ability left by the wayside, not because of faults in itself, but because of faults in its users. Spinda needs to pull a gimmicky Assist combo to even take advantage of Contrary, and Serperior has to contend with poor coverage and a problematic typing, both offensively and defensively. In Balanced Hackmons, however, Contrary finally gets its chance to shine, and its magnificence is truly blinding.
Contrary is generally used in combination with the series of moves that lower Special Attack by two in return for a tremendously powerful hit (Leaf Storm, Overheat, Psycho Boost, Draco Meteor) as well as V-create in order to both attack and boost one's stats in the same turn. The most common users of Contary are Reshiram, Dialga, and Latios, all benefiting from STAB on at least one of the Contrary abusing attacks. Reshiram boasts STAB on V-create, Draco Meteor, and Overheat, which combined with its 150 Special Attack stat allows it to wreck unprepared teams. Dialga fits into a similar boat, except it trades the Fire STAB for neutrality to Dragon. In contrast to his brethren who can afford to take a hit on the physical side of the spectrum, Latios forgoes armor for sheer striking power. With the highest Speed of the three, Soul Dew, and STAB on Stored Power, Latios is able to run through teams with incredible ease. If he is at full health, Soul Dew's boosts can even enable him to defeat Imposter Blissey and continue on his sweep uninterrupted.
As devastating as it is, Contrary's amazing power can be completely negated, if not reflected, by Imposter Blissey. If one allows Blissey to Transform into their Contrary user, there is a good chance that the game will be over then and there. Even Latios, whose Soul Dew is not copied by Blissey, needs to start the battle at near full health to be able to stand up to the pink blob. Prankster Heart Swap and Destiny Bond both serve as an emergency stop to Contrary users, but it is worth noting that Heart Swap can only be used once per switch in, as subsequent uses would give back the stolen stat boosts. Furthermore, once Heart Swap has been used, the Contrary Pokémon is free to continue using boosting attacks until its stat boosts are higher than the Heart Swap user, making Heart Swap problematic if not paired with a way to stop the Contrary user from attacking again, such as Prankster Spore.
With the floodgates open, and every move available to every Pokémon, Prankster goes from being under-appreciated to a metagame-defining ability. Prankster is generally used on Giratina, the bulkiest Pokémon in existence, and Groudon, who can take advantage of a priority STAB Nature Power.
Giratina's main Prankster set revolves around Spore, enabling him to put dangerous Pokémon out of commission. From there he has a wide variety of options, the two main ones being setting up hazards and starting a chain with Whirlwind and priority Copycat to shuffle the opponent to death. Taunt, Magic Coat, and Substitute in combination with Baton Pass are also usable.
Groudon's niche is significantly smaller than Giratina's, but it is enough to allow him to make an impact. The standard Groudon set utilizes Prankster Heart Swap as an emergency fail-safe against boosters and Nature Power to sweep with the stolen boosts. The remainder of Groudon's moves are a toss-up. Substitute passing, recovery, Spore, and hazards are all viable options.
Fortunately for those who have to face it, Prankster's tremendous utility is offset by crippling weaknesses. Magic Coat, Taunt, and Magic Bounce will render most Prankster users harmless. In addition, the most common Prankster move, Spore, has become a victim of its own popularity. With the perpetual fear of being priority slept lurking around every corner, Lum Berry is the item of choice for the majority of the Balanced Hackmons metagame.
Mold Breaker is a curiosity to those new to the Hackmons metagame, and for good reason. What can Mold Breaker possibly bring to the table when everyone can have Prankster, Magic Bounce, Contrary, or Magic Guard? The answer lies within the lead metagame of Balanced Hackmons, ancient history rediscovered in a land without Wi-Fi Clause. Like the lead metagame of Generation Four, the opening of a Balanced Hackmons match usually revolves around getting up one's own hazards while denying their opponent theirs. Mold Breaker enables its user to set up hazards against Magic Bounce users, something that is otherwise unachievable. Mold Breaker and Magic Bounce are members of a vicious rock-paper-scissors game present in Balanced Hackmons' lead metagame, the third being Prankster. Mold Breaker is usually ran on the definitive lead of Balanced Hackmons, Deoxys-S.
In addition to defeating Magic Coat users, Mold Breaker possesses a good number of fringe benefits. When attacking with Mold Breaker, many abilities are ignored, including weather evasion abilities, Unaware, and Multiscale. In addition, Mold Breaker ignores Sturdy, enabling sweepers to cleave right through Sturdy Shedinja and continue onwards to victory.
Luckily for those who have to deal with it, Mold Breaker announces its presence the instant it takes the field, granting the player time to react accordingly. In the lead metagame Mold Breaker is the most common of the lead metagame trifecta, meaning that being able to deal with it will put you in great stead. While Mold Breaker will break right through Magic Bounce, it can be stopped with Magic Coat.
Like other tiers, Balanced Hackmons received a few new toys to play with with the advent of BW2, specifically:
Kyurem-Black is a powerhouse in the hackmons metagame. Between his acceptable bulk, middle-of-the-road speed, and legendary Attack stat, Kyurem is built to tear holes in teams. Much like the many new Pokémon running around in OU, Kyurem-B's niche hasn't been fully discovered yet.
Unfortunately, BW2 didn't contribute much else to Balanced Hackmons. Kyurem-White faces stiff competition with its predecessor Reshiram for a spot on Contrary teams. His higher Speed and Special Attack are nice, but Reshiram's STAB on V-create and Overheat and superior defensive typing are overall more helpful. Thundurus-Therian holds potential as a Hurricane abuser on a rain team, but sadly its brethren have been completely left behind. Groudon can do just about anything either Landorus can do better, new tutor moves don't mean anything, and Tornadus-Therian isn't worth considering in a tier where Giratina roams.
Magic Bounce is an incredibly useful ability as it bounces back Spore, hazards, and Whirlwind. Many Pokémon that use Magic Bounce forgo Lum Berry for a different item, such as Leftovers, as they no longer fear Spore from anything that doesn't have Mold Breaker. Magic Guard is useful for any Pokémon that are very weak to hazards, such as Ho-Oh. Life Orb and recoil moves are also pretty common on any Pokémon with Magic Guard because it cancels out the recoil. Adaptability is the most common ability for the occasional Choice Pokémon and is the best offensive ability out there besides Guts. Regenerator is not as great as it is in the standard metagames, but it's still a great ability choice for any Pokémon that acts as a pivot. Now that Pure Power and Huge Power are banned, Slaking commonly uses Guts as an ability and Toxic Orb or Flame Orb as an item to give its attacks an extra punch. Note that Slaking will die quickly because of it, but at least it's immune to Spore and has a Facade that is stronger than even Pure Power or Huge Power ExtremeSpeed. Illusion is always a fun ability for anything that has a set-up move. Speaking of set-up moves, Simple gives them an extra buff, which makes Tail Glow increase Special Attack by a nightmarish 6 stages in one turn. Sap Sipper gives Pokémon an Attack boost if they switch into the ever-so-common Spore while also giving them an immunity to the occasional Grass-type attack. The infamous Speed Boost that made Blaziken an Uber is also a pretty good ability in Balanced Hackmons, although other abilities tend to be better choices for an ability. Serene Grace is nice for the 95% (it could miss!) chance of burning with Sacred Fire and abusing flinching moves such as Air Slash and Iron Head.
Weather, while not as good as in standard, is still a fantastic team choice. Sand and hail are notable for killing Shedinja and getting extra residual damage on certain Pokémon. Sand also increases the Special Defense of Rock-types by 50% and doubles the Speed of Sand Rush Pokémon. Rain is nice for the boost to Water-type attacks as well as for making various abilities come into effect. Sun is basically the same except for Fire-type attacks and there are fewer abilities to abuse it with. Weather is definitely viable, but there are a limited number of viable Pokémon that can abuse each weather well. Rain and sand are the most common, but weather in general is fairly rare in Balanced Hackmons for some reason.
Now that you know the basics of Balanced Hackmons and some of the top threats and abilities, go out and try it. It's a very fun tier with many interesting strategies. See you guys on the ladder on Pokémon Showdown!
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