Balanced Hackmons 101: Imposters and Imposter Proofing

By HeadsILoseTailsYouWin. Art by FellFromtheSky.
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Balanced Hackmons 101: Imposters and Imposter Proofing


The introduction of the ability Imposter in BW significantly altered Balanced Hackmons. While previously, offensive threats could be added somewhat haphazardly with little regard for defensive synergy, now players have to teambuild carefully for fear of the omnipresent Imposter Chansey turning their threats against themselves and running through their whole teams if not prepared accordingly.

However, to adequately discuss how to beat Imposter, we must first look exactly at what it does. Imposter is an ability that activates only on the switch in and transforms its user into the foe. Anything that would make Transform fail will also make Imposter fail to activate. This includes Illusions, Substitute, already being transformed, and trying to transform into a foe that has already transformed. If it succeeds, Imposter will copy the foe's typing (including any changes to its type, such as through Soak and Trick-or-Treat), their ability, their stats (except HP) and stat modifications, and their moves, albeit with only 5 maximum PP. It will also allow the Imposter user to properly use Hyperspace Fury should it be copying a Hoopa in its Unbound forme.

However, Imposter does not copy everything. It does not copy the foe's item or the effects of that item, any status ailments the target might have (volatile or non-volatile), Focus Energy, Aqua Ring or Ingrain, the foe's Hidden Power type, and the foe's species, allowing species-specific items like Eviolite and Light Ball to be used if the Imposter's base form can use the item.

Eviolite Chansey is the Imposter of choice and the main one you should prepare for. It almost always uses the following set:


The moves are very simple. Fake Out shatters any Illusions that block Imposter, while Whirlwind and Parting Shot can dispose of foes behind a Substitute, regardless of whether they have Magic Bounce or not. Recover lets Chansey heal before phazing out a special attacker or a wall, and King's Shield and Metal Burst help neuter or dispose of physical attackers. As Chansey will very rarely be staying in if it fails to copy something, most of these moves are for specific scenarios.

Imposter Chansey is an extremely useful Pokémon, at S+ viability rank. This is because of its immense utility. Not only can it be used to stop threats like Contrary users and potentially even countersweep, but it also allows the user to see all four of the foe's moves, eliminating almost any potential chance of successfully luring and KOing a would-be check or counter.

As Imposter Chansey has much more HP and 1.5x the defenses of whatever it transforms into, stopping a Chansey countersweep can be daunting. This is why all high-level Balanced Hackmons players have reliable defensive checks to everything on their team (with a few exceptions detailed later), a process called Imposter Proofing. Imposters are only as threatening to you as you let them be.

Here are some simple sets that are Imposter proof.

Poison Heal bulky boosters or walls


This Kyogre set uses Poison Heal to Imposter-proof itself. As Imposters do not copy the poison status from Kyogre, it is free to set up or spread burns without worrying about Imposter. Additionally, Leech Seed will drain much more health from Chansey due to its massive HP stat of 703. Not only will Chansey fail to inflict any lasting harm to Kyogre without a crit due to Quiver Dance's defensive boosts, but it also risks getting burned and crippled for the rest of the match.


Poison Heal Mega Tyranitar is very potent as a bulky setup sweeper, and its extreme resistance to Imposter is a big reason why. Not only does Knock Off threaten to remove Eviolite from Imposters, but it can also burn them with either Will-O-Wisp or Sacred Fire, which also allow it to remove Shedinja. Additionally, Mega Tyranitar resists all of the moves it carries, allowing it to still check Imposter Chansey even if it has boosted to +6.

Judgment Sweepers


This set takes advantage of the fact that Chansey will almost always be holding an Eviolite or Lucky Punch. Judgment means that any Chansey that is not holding a Plate will be unable to harm Mega Gengar. Additionally, this Gengar set OHKOes Eviolite-less Chansey after a Shell Smash, meaning that even Spooky Plate Imposters aren't safe if they lose the Speed tie.

Offensive Steel- or Dragon-types like Dialga can also be seen running Judgment sets to get more powerful coverage, although they are uncommon. Similarly, Aerilate Mega Rayquaza can also use Judgment to obtain Imposter-proof Ground coverage, although this prevents it from using an item to boost its other moves' power.

Trapping Walls


No matter what item Imposters run, there is one limitation they will never be able to bypass: they have only 5 PP on all their moves. This set traps Imposters switching in and slowly makes them run out of all their PP, using Soundproof to prevent Imposters from pivoting out of Groudon using Parting Shot and using its Ground typing to block Volt Switch. Simply by wasting the Imposter's PP for its damaging move and then using the naturally high PP of Volt Switch or Parting Shot to stall the rest, Groudon will eliminate any Imposter.

These sets are all Self-Imposter Proof, meaning that they typically wall themselves. Sets do not have to be self-Imposter proof to be successful, though. Sometimes a Pokémon is so offensive that it cannot hope to check itself defensively. In these scenarios, Imposter-Proof Cores are needed.

Attacker + Wall

diancie mega

This is a simple example of an "Attacker + Wall" Imposter-proof core. Here, Mega Diancie's moves are deliberately chosen as to allow Aegislash to counter it. Running Precipice Blades as Mega Diancie's fourth move would allow an Imposter to break through Aegislash, ruining the core's effectiveness. Aegislash not only walls a Mega Diancie Imposter but also grabs momentum should Chansey switch into it. Cores like these are why defensive Pokémon are commonly found even on offensive teams.

groudon primal

Primal Groudon is an extremely powerful attacker that necessitates specialized checks to beat specific sets. However, as checks to its most potent sets are otherwise bad, its most-used set is fairly straightforward, and can be easily walled by Fur Coat Giratina. V-create utterly destroys everything that doesn't resist it. Even less bulky Pokémon that do such as Rayquaza still cannot survive a +1 V-create. If a Groudon Imposter decides to boost, Giratina can force it out with Dragon Tail. Giratina can also bring Groudon in safely with U-turn.

Wall + Self-Imposter-Proof Wall


Very bulky walls like Mega Audino and Registeel will often form Imposter-proof cores without any special modifications. Here, Lugia acts as a check to setup and weaker Contrary sweepers, while Yveltal checks status spreaders and Ghost-types like Mega Gengar. Yveltal is immune to Lugia's Stored Power, letting it directly switch into Lugia's Imposters and force them out with a Will-O-Wisp. Even if they Baton Pass the boosts, Lugia can come in again and repeat the cycle. Yveltal is also self-Imposter proof even when boosted, preventing Imposters from switching into that instead.

Most walls will be Imposter proof without being specially constructed to be. It is even possible to construct a stallbreaker like Mold Breaker Taunt Arceus and then run a Regenerator wall like Registeel to safely check it. For this reason, stall can teambuild relatively flexibly in Balanced Hackmons, although there are offensive threats it must prepare for and walls that it should have anyway.

Doom Desire Dialga + Magnet Pull Xerneas


This core is unique, as it uses two offensive Pokémon with little defensive ability. Cores that work like these are hard to design without relying on immunities. Whenever Dialga switches in, it fires off a powerful Draco Meteor or Doom Desire and then switches out. If an Imposter comes in and copies Dialga, players immediately switch to Xerneas, which walls Dialga thanks to Substitute blocking Doom Desire. Xerneas can then take advantage of the trapped Imposter by setting up to +6 and proceeding to do heavy damage to the opposing team. However, if the Imposter predicts the initial switch to Xerneas, the loss in momentum can be devastating for the Xerneas user.

Imposter-proof cores consisting of two offensive Pokémon are quite rare, as Pokémon that check each other offensively will be worn down by repeated switching. Imposter is the reason that almost all good Balanced Hackmons teams contain at least one defensive pivot.

This article has only covered the main Imposter, Eviolite Chansey. Eviolite Chansey is usually seen due to its extremely low risk. Pikachu can also run an effective Imposter set with Light Ball. While Pikachu carries significantly more risk than Chansey due to its reliance on winning Speed ties and its drastically lower bulk, it makes up for it with its ability to invalidate almost all Imposter proofing that doesn't rely on immunities. For example, a Pikachu that has copied Aerilate Mega Rayquaza can 2HKO defensive Aegislash with Boomburst. Lucky Punch Chansey is a compromise between the bulk of Eviolite Chansey and the power of Pikachu. It can easily get critical hits to break through bulky boosters like Poison Heal Kyogre and aid in damaging switch-ins to Pokémon it has copied. However, it has significantly lower bulk than its Eviolite-equipped counterpart, reducing its opportunities to switch in. Also, while a 50% chance to score a critical hit seems humongous, it makes Lucky Punch Chansey somewhat unreliable. Chansey can run other items, such as a Plate, to bypass the lack of coverage that Judgment sweepers have to control Imposter. Additionally, Deoxys-A is an oddity in Balanced Hackmons due to requiring little Imposter-proofing support. It has such low defensive stats that it is often able to OHKO Imposters with strong neutral moves. For this reason, it is the only Pokémon able to check Imposters through sheer offensive pressure (while Shedinja can theoretically do this, it would rather rely on teammates with Pursuit to dispose of Chansey), and it can run a Contrary set effectively if given a Focus Sash, while most other Pokémon struggle to do so due to the ability being massive Imposter bait.

Get out there!

If you're new to Balanced Hackmons, take this advice seriously when building your teams. If you're already experienced with the metagame, try experimenting with some creative methods of Imposter proofing! The next big set could be right around the corner.

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