Balanced Hackmons 101: Priority and -ates

By HeadsILoseTailsYouWin and morogrim. Art by FellFromtheSky.
« Previous Article Home Next Article »
Diancie by FellFromtheSky


With XY shifting the OU metagame's focus from endless weather to extremely common priority, it stood to reason that Balanced Hackmons would behave similarly, and indeed it did. The new abilities Gale Wings and Refrigerate/Aerilate/Pixilate enabled very powerful STAB Extreme Speeds and priority Oblivion Wings, while the new moves Parting Shot and Topsy-Turvy greatly increased the utility of Pranksters. Bulky Steel-type pivots like Registeel and Aegislash became near mandatory on offense for their ability to switch into priority moves and force their users out.

-ate FakeSpeed

The most common priority, -ate FakeSpeed (Fake Out + Extreme Speed), is seen on most offensive teams. A powered-up Fake Out and Extreme Speed in conjunction will KO a lot of offensive Pokémon, which contributes to the immense popularity of -ate Pokémon on both offense and balance. Being weak to Fairy-, Flying-, or Ice-type attacks is an extreme liability on setup sweepers, and it is why Gale Wings Mega Rayquaza has such a difficult time finding setup opportunities versus teams that have -ate FakeSpeed. Aerilate, Pixilate, or Refrigerate sets that have Extreme Speed will almost always have Fake Out or Boomburst, often both. A trapping move like Magma Storm may be run to lure in and dispose of Shedinja, while King's Shield can make it harder for other -ate users to revenge kill the Pokémon. Mega Diancie, the most common Pixilate user, runs an EV spread with maximum Speed and usually maximum Attack, and specially oriented EV spreads are uncommon. Aerilate Mega Rayquaza can run a variety of EV spreads, ranging from maximum Speed with a Naive nature to a slow spread that invests heavily in both Attack and Special Attack better suited for wallbreaking. Refrigerate has three common users. Mega Mewtwo X has the best mixed attacking capability them, running Extreme Speed, Boomburst, and Close Combat. Kyurem, on the other hand, trades versatility for specialization, having either an extremely powerful Boomburst or the strongest Ice-type Extreme Speed. Kyurem-W will usually be seen running a Choice Scarf set with Extreme Speed, Boomburst, Trick, and either a coverage move or Volt Switch, while Kyurem-B has much more move options, being able to choose from Swords Dance, a coverage move, Infestation, King's Shield, and Boomburst. Kyurem likes to invest in Speed and usually runs a nature that boosts its offensive stats, like Naughty or Mild.


Prankster is perhaps the most unique form of priority, as it allows defensive Pokémon to have almost complete control over turn order. Prankster pairs well with moves that see usage almost exclusively in BH due to their unfortunate distribution. When OU or UU players hear the term "pivot utility move that has horrendous distribution", Parting Shot usually comes to mind. Parting Shot is a very common move on Pranksters due to its increased priority and its ability to decrease the power of the foe's attacks, allowing Pranksters to either scare a foe away or pivot out of a super effective coverage move before it hits them, all while offering some protection for the switch-in. Topsy-Turvy can act as a cold stop to almost all setup while making it very difficult for the foe to simply keep boosting in the face of the move. Destiny Bond can surprise an out-of-control sweeper, while the threat of the move forces careful play even if it isn't present. Priority recovery makes it much easier for a Prankster wall to come back from the brink of fainting, and priority hazard removal is always a nice luxury to have. Prankster has an extreme variety of users, as nearly anything with decent defensive stats can run it successfully. Pranksters will usually run either U-turn or Parting Shot and will nearly always run a recovery move. The only guaranteed way to determine a Prankster's moveset is to scout it with an Imposter, which is usually safe, but may occasionally result in the Imposter being put to sleep.

Other common forms of priority

Gale Wings users commonly run a special sweeper set with Oblivion Wing and Tail Glow, which makes them extremely durable and powerful at the same time. An example user of this set is the common Mega Rayquaza with Tail Glow, Oblivion Wing, Substitute, and a filler move, which is usually either a coverage move like Earth Power or Magma Storm or a utility move such as Spore. The item used is usually Sharp Beak or Life Orb if Spore is not being used and Safety Goggles otherwise. Usually the EV spread for this set is 252 Special Attack EVs with a Modest nature and then either 252 Speed EVs or bulk investment not in HP so that the HP gained from Oblivion Wing is maximized. Physical sets with Dragon Ascent are much less common but can be used to serve as wallbreakers and revenge killers. Once again, the best user of this set would be Mega Rayquaza, which runs a set comprising of Dragon Ascent and Precipice Blades, along with two other moves that depend on the item being run. A Swords Dance set typically has Swords Dance and Substitute, while the wallbreaker set has Choice Band along with Trick and U-turn. Similarly, the EV spread for this set is focused on maximizing damage output, since Gale Wings gives the user a very strong priority move, so 252 EVs are spent in Attack with an Adamant nature along with the rest being invested in either Speed, HP, or some sort of optimized bulk depending on the team's needs.

Other aspects of -ate

While most -ate users are commonly used as revenge killers, there are other viable methods to use them. Users such as Pixilate Mega Latios and Choice Specs Mega Rayquaza can fill the role of wallbreakers and usually run Boomburst, Techno Blast, and two filler moves. The filler moves are usually a setup move such as Quiver Dance along with a coverage move such as Earth Power or Magma Storm for Mega Latios, while Mega Rayquaza can afford to run a special coverage move such as Secret Sword or Earth Power or even opt to become a mixed wallbreaker by running Precipice Blades, followed by either a pivoting move such as Volt Switch or a utility move such as Trick. Extreme Speed may also be used in case the need for revenge killing a threat arises, as Mega Rayquaza can still do high damage with Extreme Speed even without Attack investment thanks to its amazing mixed offensive stats. Mega Latios usually runs an EV spread of 252 SpA / 252 Spe with a Timid nature, while Mega Rayquaza runs 200 Atk / 252 SpA / 56 Spe along with a Rash nature. The 56 Speed EVs allow Mega Rayquaza to outspeed 148+ Speed invested base 90s, which is an important benchmark, since it allows them to be able to outspeed Mega Mewtwo Y after a single boost in Speed.

Even though the common -ate users are so common for a good reason, there are still other options to consider when trying to pick an -ate user for a team. Some players like to use unconventional -ateSpeed users to surprise the opponent such as Pixilate Xerneas, Aerilate Mega Aerodactyl, and even Aerilate Landorus-T. While these Pokémon are obviously outclassed by the common users (Mega Rayquaza and Mega Diancie), they still have niches in the meta while also having the element of surprise, which could lead to scoring some KOs that wouldn't have otherwise happened. Some attackers can run -ate Boomburst to lure in and destroy their usual counters, such as the aforementioned Pixilate Mega Latios.

Dealing with priority and -ate

Every BH team must have a way to deal with the common priority and -ate users in the metagame. The simplest and easiest way to do this is by adding a bulky Steel-type like Aegislash with some teammates that can handle certain coverage moves. Another way for attackers to deal with -ate users is by using King's Shield, which not only removes the free damage provided by Fake Out but also harshly drops the foe's Attack should it try using a contact move, often forcing them out. Having a typing that resists Flying or Fairy is another way to improve an attacker's matchup versus -ateSpeed users. For instance, Poison Heal Mega Tyranitar can switch in on Mega Rayquaza and set up a free Shift Gear unless the Mega Rayquaza has a Fighting-type attack.

Prankster is a bit more tricky to deal with directly. While obviously Magic Bounce is a near-full stop to Pranksters, turning their Parting Shots into free switches for you, other answers to them exist. Safety Goggles is a common sight to prevent Prankster Spore from stopping an entire team, but since Pranksters can viably do almost anything, the best way to develop a counterplay to a Prankster is to scout its moveset with Imposter.

It is very difficult to wall -ate wallbreakers due to their immense power, and as such, playing aggressively is the best way to deal with them. If nothing on your team can comfortably tank Life Orb Mega Rayquaza's Boomburst or Close Combat, you should prioritize preventing it from getting in safely, using offensive pressure to prevent slow pivots from freely U-turning into it.


While priority played its part in the Gen 5 BH metagame, from Prankster Nature Power Earthquakes to the occasional Extreme Speed, its use in Gen 6 is even greater. Almost every team features a priority move of some sort. Will priority be this prevalent in Gen 7 even with the new ability Dazzle, which is said to block priority moves? It definitely seems so, but only time will tell for sure.

« Previous Article Home Next Article »