Ahh Ditto, the lovable blob of goo whose main purpose is to… well, breed with everything in sight. But that’s not all Ditto is good for. In battle, Ditto can be a surprise and a force to be reckoned with. Assuming, of course, your opponent brought a force to be reckoned with.
Ditto’s power is dependent on a few factors beyond your control: the quality of the pokemon your opponent has on their team, the number of would-be surprises your opponent carries, and actions your opponent takes to set up during battle.
How you use Ditto will depend upon your format. Are you playing in a draft league in which the opponents Pokemon are known already? Is the metagame such that you are almost certain to have a suitable powerhouse on the other side to copy? In this article we will explore Ditto as a lead, as a revenge killer, as a sweep-reverser, and how you can plan to use Ditto on your own.
DITTO IN A NUTSHELL
Here’s Ditto in a nutshell: 48’s across the board in base stats and the ability Imposter. (Limber is the other ability we won’t be discussing here.)
Imposter triggers upon entering the battle and causes Ditto to become an EXACT COPY* of the pokemon DIRECTLY ACROSS** from it. It copies stat
boosts and drops, type changes, abilities*, and moves+. All Stats+ are copied save for HP. All moves have only 5 PP and can’t be PP upped. Items are not copied. Status conditions are not copied. Mega Evolutions or Primal Reversions are copied unless they have not already
activated. Ditto is still counted as Ditto.++
*Some abilities, however, cannot be copied, namely Stance Change. If you copy an Aegislash, you will copy Shield Forme and remain that way.
**In doubles, it will only copy the Pokémon directly across. If there is no pokemon in that slot, Ditto remains Ditto. If there is a Substitute in that slot, Ditto remains ditto. If Ditto switches in on an empty slot as with a knockout Volt Switch it will not have a Pokemon to copy. A pokemon that is already a copy of another Pokemon as per Imposter or Transform cannot be copied. Imposter triggers anew each time Ditto enters the fray, therefore you won’t be able to switch out as a Terrakion and expect to switch in as Terrakion vs Talonflame.
+Hidden Power still works off the base IVs of the Ditto. You cannot check Ditto’s hidden power with the in game NPC’s who do that, so you’ll have to test for hidden powers on your own.
++Considering Ditto is still Ditto, it gets no benefit from Eviolite while copying a not fully evolved pokemon. Nor does it get other benefits such as Thick Club while copying Marowak or Light Ball for Pikachu. It only gets the benefit of Quick Powder or Metal Powder prior to transforming, rendering those items useless for an Imposter Ditto.
The 48 base HP is not as low as you may imagine. Considering it’s the only trainable stat that remains after Imposter triggers or Transform is used, you had better max it out. This brings Ditto’s HP to 155 at level 50. That is comparable to a base 80 HP pokemon with zero investment. So if you’re copying your opponent’s Talonflame which has a base 78 HP, your Ditto will actually have 1 HP more with a 252 attack/252 speed/4 HP.
BENEFITS OF USING DITTO
Hitting Power: Ditto’s hitting power is roughly equal to your opponent’s pokemon’s power depending upon item attached. Keep an eye out for opportunities Ditto can score two KO’s.
Scouting: Now that you have your opponent’s move list in front of you, you’ve taken a lot of the guesswork out of the match ahead. You can use this information to determine the item your opponent has on their Pokemon. For example, if you see a list of moves that have no Status moves among them and the Pokemon being copied is fairly slow, it is safe to assume it’s wearing an Assault Vest or using a Choice Band. If the moves are all high damage options with drawbacks, you can probably guess the item is Choice Band. The real benefits occur when you reveal a move that is rare and generally beyond consideration. A move like Snatch, Counter, or Rest and Sleep Talk immediately spoils what your opponent intends to do with that Pokemon or spoils traps you could have otherwise fallen into.
Set-Up Discouragement: If your opponent invests turns in setting up a pokemon, Ditto can come in and take all their hard work. Now, depending upon your item or status conditions, one of the two of you will be ready to sweep. Yes, this can mean the game hinges upon a coin flip in the form of a speed tie, but it is your opponent who handed you the coin so take advantage of it. If this is the only mode you intend to use Ditto for, your item should match this game plan.
Potentially Unlimited PP: Given PP expenditures are refreshed upon switch in and Imposter triggering again, you have could be able to go on against a stalling pokemon without worrying about Struggling assuming
you’re still able to switch. A niche benefit to be certain but one to keep in mind for the rare time the opportunity arises.
YOUR OPPONENT’S TEAM IS YOURS: PLANNING USING TEAM PREVIEW
On team preview, note the Pokemon your opponent is bringing that you want to copy. Here are some ideas as to what to look for…
Self-Walling: A pokemon is self-walling if its attributes make the mirror match a stalemate. For example, Pokemon like Ferrothorn generally have no way to stop other Ferrothorns. This can force a switch, especially if you already have an advantage such as a status condition on the copied Pokemon. Physical Intimidators are great to come in on if it’s a safe or free switch.
Self-Destructive: Dragons and Ghosts especially carry moves that would hit their mirror for super effective damage. Other common threats like Mega Lopunny or just plain fragile pokemon like Mega Beedrill can easily one-shot themselves and therefore Ditto. These are dangerous switch ins and it is not recommended you bring Ditto in unless you have the upper hand with a Choice Scarf or the pokemon in question is favourably statused.
Utility: Hazards, hazard removers, Taunt and other useful moves like Wide Guard or Trick Room for doubles sets can put a monkey wrench in your competitor’s game plan. Additionally, you will have the information that your opponent is carrying those moves. Recovery moves and abilities like Regenerator similarly help by giving Ditto more longevity that you came into the battle expecting.
Why not bring the Pokemon that does the thing that you want? Ditto allows you to have any of these, potentially within the same battle. It could be Baton Passing one round and Fire Blasting a few rounds later. What Ditto offers here is the flexibility to do any of these, depending upon how you equipped your Ditto and how the flow of the battle goes.
Here’s where things get tricky. You don’t KNOW how your opponent has EV’d their pokemon, but they do. If they have surprises up their sleeve you can’t see them and won’t know until it’s tested. The same is true for abilities that aren’t immediately obvious, such as Thick Fat or Immunity. How do you know if you’ll live a hit or not?
If you’re using a damage calculator program such as the one provided by
Nuggetbridge or Pokemon Showdown, set a pair of pokemon against ach other and change one’s HP stat to 155.
If you don’t or can’t calculate with an app, you should at least know the opposing pokemon’s HP number. Base 80 and lower HP numbers without investment mean you’ll have the upper hand. Pokemon whose main advantage is their HP number like Blissey are disadvantageous to copy. A pokemon like Weavile rarely carries HP investment, so you’re actually bulkier than they are with the same speed and attack, so you’ll hit them harder than they expect and for less investment.
Choice Scarf is the best item for Ditto if you want to assure you’re going first or at least speed tying against other choice scarfers. It is rightly so the most common item for single battles. The disadvantages are those of any Choice item, namely that the opponent knows you’re locked into a move. NOT carrying a choice scarf means you’ll need to beat a speed tie or have an uncopyable hinderance on the opponent, such as a Quash from a partner in doubles, an active tailwind, or the Paralysis condition. Speed drops from Rock Tomb and the like won’t help unless they occur after the transformation. However, since Choice Scarf is the most common go-to item, not using it can give you some degree of surprise factor at the cost of greater likelihood of speed-ties.
Here’s a few other handy items to choose from. Generally you will want to have some method of paralysis or other speed control if you are using
these. (Unless you’re feeling lucky.)
Leftovers/Sitrus Berry: Generally speaking, HP recovery would not be your best use of an item on Ditto. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that other options are better.
Life Orb: Boost your damage output by 30%. This is
especially handy when copying opposing Mega Pokémon. Much less useful at copying walls. However, given that Ditto is potentially frailer than the Pokemon you’re copying (above Base 80 HP or a pokemon above 55 likely running investment), it will erode your Ditto. It could be enough to get an extra KO where you wouldn’t otherwise.
Choice Band or Choice Specs: If you know in advance what your opponent will bring this can give you a TREMENDOUS advantage in damage output against hindered self-super effective threats and seal the game. Choice Band is generally preferable if you’re going into the battle blind. It would be a hard metagame call to use one of these items, but it can pay off in spades.
Weakness Policy: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Ditto will not generally survive a super effective hit from harder hitting meta games. I advise against this item. If you know what your opponent is likely to bring or if you explicitly bring Ditto to counter a threat, you can maybe get away with this. Same goes for Enigma Berry.
Assault Vest: Pro, You are now a bulkier version of your opponent. Con, you cannot copy a status user and be nearly as effective as you would be otherwise. This item on Ditto thwarts Calm Mind users handily if you’ve let them set up any boosts. After two boosts they shouldn’t be able to catch up with you.
Salac Berry: This speed boosting item won’t help you until after you’ve taken your first hit, but every hit thereafter is rewarded. Watch out for priority.
Red Card: This item is best against bulky pokemon that set up and can live their own hits. For example, a full health Ditto can switch in on a Mega Scizor with Swords Dance up, take just about any hit, and then send the other Pokemon packing while keeping the stat boosts for Ditto. If speed ties are a concern, when selecting your move, choose the move that works best regardless of the speed tie. That is, choose the move you want to use across your opponent’s remaining team as any of them could come in. A red card Ditto best comes in the middle of the match when there are only a few pokemon to force out, but not the last one or not if there are too many possibilities.
Focus Sash: This is the pessimist’s Choice Scarf. It guarantees you a shot at a fully swords-danced Diggersby without worrying about the speed ties and should you win the tie you’ll have the Sash intact. Trouble here is it assumes your side is free of hazards. In the occasions where it is most useful, you cannot guarantee a hazard-free entrance as any Rapid Spin user would almost certainly perish to the fully charged threat. If you reliably clean up hazards before any threats attempt set-up, you can use this item for Ditto.
Quick Claw: Are you feeling lucky? Do you enjoy the blip of quick claw activating and setting fear into your opponent? Do you enjoy winning speed ties an extra 20ish percent of the time? Do you like striking first even while paralyzed? Then this is your item. Do you prefer consistency? Then stay away from this item.
DITTO AS A LEAD
In singles, if you think you know who your opponent will lead with and you are carrying an item that allows for flexibility and the suspected lead can’t straight knock itself out, you may want to lead with Ditto. It’s a risk and if you guess wrong you could start the whole game off on the wrong foot. However it’s common to find a Hazard Setter at the start of the match, so you can match them or just start hitting.
In doubles, leading Ditto is another thing entirely. Especially in a best of three environment, you get a huge load of information right away, and will likely have a handy helper for your threat or fake out Pokemon you flank with. However, which SIDE of the board would you lead on? Do you lead with Ditto in the first position, across from their second pick? Or do you go for the second position and sneak a peek at the moveset of the first Pokemon your opponent selected to face you? Keep in mind, that opponents wise to the ways of Ditto may flip-flop the order they would normally send out their Pokemon. How can you be sure? You can’t. That’s part of the risk of leading Ditto in doubles.
In triples, you can lead with Ditto in the centre position. This gives you information as to what your opponent wants to do to your entire team and gives access to the same trick.
DITTO OUT FOR BLOOD: REVENGE KILLING
If you have a Scarf on your Ditto, you want to copy the thing that just dropped your last pokemon and then come in and give it a taste of its own medicine. No real mind-games here, just the same things you’d expect on any choice scarf avenger.
If you carry a Thunder-Waver on your team (and if you’re using Ditto I suggest you do) you don’t need the Scarf, you can copy the threat, and then go to town with all the variety your opponent gave you. Considering that Status Conditions are not copyable, you will always win speed ties. Spread paralysis liberally across the opponent’s team and reap the rewards with Ditto!
REVERSE THE SWEEP: COUNTERING SETUP
If you are using Ditto and you’re a little bit crazy, you can leave a Pokemon in on a set-upper a little longer than you should, let them get greedy, and then steal their boosts. Remember, it’s their fault for setting up and handing you the coin to flip. If you have a Scarf, it’s just their fault.
If your opponent has a Ditto on their team and you set up, you are handing them a coin to flip to win the game. If they have a Scarf Ditto and it’s later in the game when your own pokemon that resist your currently set up pokemon are in no position to survive, you’re done for. DON’T set up if your opponent has a Ditto.
DITTO’S BEST FRIENDS: TEAM OPTIONS
Some moves and abilities play better with Ditto than others, for example…
Paralyze Status: This condition is Ditto’s best friend. Grab your Stun Spore-ers and T-Wavers and introduce them to the friendly blob.
Burn Condition: A neutralized physical threat that has already started setting up can make a great switch in. Even without setting up, some self-super effective pokemon won’t be able to knock a lesser HP version of themselves out.
Confusion: Confusion, thankfully, isn’t copied. It’s another coin to flip but it can allow for Ditto to aid in a come back.
Trace Users: Ditto and Porygon2 can swap between threats with self-neutralizing abilities such as Flash Fire and take no damage. Against a Regenerator you can recuperate HP between them.
IF DITTO HAD A MOUSTACHE, HE’D BE TWIRLING IT RIGHT NOW
Take 252 EV’s and plop them straight into HP. Your Ditto is ready. Enjoy!