Paper Mario Talks — Is Superguard a bad mechanic in TTYD?

A superguard in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (TTYD) is one of two defensive action commands. Instead of pressing A before an enemy hits you, you press B with even tighter timing. Executing a superguarding successfully results in all damage being negated and, sometimes, Mario will deal damage back to the attacker. Is it a good addition to the Paper Mario combat system, or did it make the game too easy and break combat? Let’s find out!

First, we need to dive into some more mechanical aspects of the game. TTYD runs at 60 frames per second (fps). Executing a successful Guard requires you press the A button within 8 frames of an attack dealing damage to you. This will reduce the damage Mario takes by 1. To execute a successful superguard, you must press B within 3 frames of an attack dealing damage to you. This will negate all damage, and when an enemy is directly attacking you (some direct attacks are exempt) Mario deals 1 point of damage to the attacker.

Sounds pretty broken, right? Well, to be blunt, no. I think superguarding is a perfect extra option for players, and not just for challenge running (that’s a topic all on its own)! In fact, it’s pretty easy for Mario to emulate the effects of superguarding with enough defense (DEF) and Zap Tap equipped. Besides moves that require charging and Amayzee Dayzees, the highest attack (ATK) power you’re getting from enemies is 10, and that’s from Gloomtail’s Earthquake attack or Smorg’s Claw attack. But let’s forget bosses, too. The most-damaging normal enemy attack fitting that description is a Piranha Plant, with a whopping 9 ATK power. So, how much can Mario stop from that with all of his resources minus superguarding?

All of it. How? Well, let’s do some math!

Assuming Mario has Defend Plus (+1 DEF) and P-Down, D-Up (+1 DEF) equipped, you need only use 1 Courage Shell or +2ATK+3DEF Power Lift (+3 DEF). From there, Mario is currently sitting at 5 DEF. Add in the Defend command which adds another point of DEF and a Guard Action Command, and Mario will take only 2 damage from a Piranha Plant and deal 1 point back if electrified. With 2 Damage Dodges, that’s 0 damage. With 1 turn, Mario can block up to 9 damage naturally without superguarding, and it’s not very hard to get all the items required for this. Going into Danger and equipping 1 Last Stand makes this more cost-effective in exchange for damage. With Last Stand, a Piranha Plant’s damage is reduced to 4 with a 0 DEF Mario that’s guarding. Let’s start raising our DEF again.

With Defend Plus (+1 DEF), Mario still takes 4 damage with a successful guard. To learn why, check out jdaster64’s blog post on stacking badges. It explains how Last Stand is factored into damage.
With Defend Plus & P-Down, D-Up (+2 DEF), Mario now takes 3 damage with a successful guard.
With both badges equipped & the Defend command (+3 DEF), Mario would still take 3 damage with a successful guard.

So, Mario has now eliminated a Courage Shell or Power Lift. Let’s take this even further and equip 2 Last Stands. With 2 Last Stands equipped and 0 DEF, Mario now takes 3 damage with a successful guard. Back to the math!

With Defend Plus (+1 DEF), Mario still takes 3 damage with a successful guard.
With Defend Plus & P-Down, D-Up (+2 DEF), Mario now takes 2 damage with a successful guard.
With both badges equipped & the Defend command (+3 DEF), Mario still takes 2 damage with a successful guard.

So, with 2 Last Stands and some Defense Badges (or 1 badge and the Defend command), Mario can negate almost all of a Piranha Plant’s attacks while dealing 1 back while being electrified. If you simply equip 2 Damage Dodges alongside all this, here’s the damage you take:

1 Last Stand equipped: 2 damage.
2 Last Stands equipped: 1 damage.

(NOTE: Because of how Last Stand works, you will always take 1 damage unless you weren’t taking damage in the first place.)

This is on Turn 1 of a battle if you started in Danger. Granted, you need to be in Danger, but that’s beside the point. You need to be at or below 15 HP for the damage you’re taking without Last Stand factored in to really feel like you’re in danger of being KO’d.

So, when fully equipped, is 1 damage taken really a big difference from superguard? I don’t think so. There’s so much more reward and so much less risk in guarding that superguarding is pointless at this point. Sure, you can argue you don’t need any of this if you superguard well, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the game gives you the options to completely negate its use in combat.

(NOTE: This doesn’t apply to piercing damage, which negates Defend Plus, the Defend Command, and Damage Dodges, but you’re still taking less than 5 damage per turn in Danger.)

Besides its obvious usefulness in challenge running where restrictions can mean superguarding gives you precious turns you need and is sometimes required, superguarding presents a nice risk/reward factor in combat for more casual play. Let’s say you’re at 9 HP of 25, and fighting an Elite Wizzerd and a Piranha Plant, both at full health. Your partners are all KO’d. You have 2 Mega Rushes and 1 Power Rush equipped – a whopping +12 ATK if you’re in peril. You have 1 Boo’s Sheet in your inventory, and enough Star Power for Power Lift (with very little audience; not enough to get Art Attack in two turns). You also have Multibounce, Jumpman, Attack Plus, Last Stand, 2 Damage Dodges, Spike Shield, Defend Plus, and P-Up, D-Down equipped. You are at 97 Star Points. Do you Power Lift and go for the risky +17 or +18 ATK by letting the Elite Wizzerd hit you for 8 damage with a guard and superguard the Piranha Plant? That means you automatically win next turn by using Multibounce. Or, do you play it safe, and use your Boo’s Sheet and Sweet Treat to bring yourself back to over 20 HP, where you can more comfortably re-asses your situation and possibly take out the Elite Wizzerd or Piranha Plant 1 at a time? Maybe use Clock Out, Earth Tremor, or you can go for more Sweet Treats to preserve yourself as you do more steady damage with Spin or Spring Jump.

Those kinds of options are always present in Paper Mario. Do I use Sweet Treat or a Super Shroom? Do I take out enemy x first, or get damage on all enemies and take them all out in the next turn or two? Superguarding just adds another layer of depth to the on-the-fly thinking (Reactionary Theory) that players use to emerge victorious in battles. There are plenty of situations where superguarding reigns supreme, and situations where it’s worthless. While mastery of superguarding can very well be seen as broken, mastering the other facets of combat can be just as broken, and both require a lot of playing and a good understanding of how combat in Paper Mario works. To finish, there are many great challenge runners who still struggle with superguarding. If they’re still struggling to master it, I don’t see where it can be broken, as mastery of a game makes you “broken” by default. Truly, the only game-breaking mechanic is Danger Mario…which happens to be next week’s topic.

Just Sayin’

I’m back…?

Hello, everyone! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted something, eh? I’ve been pretty knee-deep in Paper Mario content for my YouTube channel, and just haven’t really given writing much thought since the final post of my Smash Improvement Series.

However, being that I’ve been pretty focused on challenge running Paper Mario…I thought maybe I could start expanding in that area. Paper Mario challenge running is my passion after all, and I have a lot I could say about the subject (and on more casual Paper Mario subjects)…so I think I’m going to! I’ve got some ideas that I already have, but I’ll also be fielding ideas from the Paper Mario challenge run community as well, so I should have quite a bit of content to write about, I hope.

Anyway, I think that’s about all for this post. I’ll be dropping new posts every Sunday starting September 17th, so stay tuned!! While you’re waiting, check out the new Paper Mario page I just added to the website. I’m gonna do a little updating here and there where I can, as well.

Just Sayin’

Improvement in Smash 4 BONUS X – Practice Methods I

**If you’re unfamiliar with Smash, this probably isn’t the post for you unless you’re curious. In order to get a full understanding of this, you should be familiar with Smash’s game mechanics and lingo (EX: Forward Air = Fair), specifically the mechanics for Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Before I begin, I have a quick but very exciting announcement! Sage of Unrivaled Tournaments and I are starting a new video series called “Better Buttons”! It will be a video series aimed at improving in Smash 4. We’ve already got a few episodes recorded and just need to be edited, and will be featured on Unrivaled Tournament’s YouTube Channel. I’m really excited for this because this is a great way to not only help Unrivaled Tournaments grow their content base, but also get this information out there.

I’ll be linking Unrivaled Tournaments stuff at the end, so be sure to check them out 🙂

Okay, onto the post!

Practice makes perfect, right? Not if your practice the wrong way. In this little mini-series, “Practice Methods”, I’ll be going over ways to practice and train. This’ll be about 3-4 entries, so get hype!

In order to improve, you need to do more than just play – you need to be aware of how you’re playing and dedicate time to improving your play and not just playing the game. However, we all can’t just grab a friend at our convenience and play. Sometimes, you have to practice on your own. So let’s learn how to do that!

There are a couple things you can practice – Match-Up knowledge, your technical ability, and your fundamentals. You need to practice all 3 to be a great player. While I went over how to practice them very briefly in my post about creating a Training Regimen, this post will expand on those concepts.

Let’s start with MU knowledge.

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MU’s

Here, you want to practice the more objective aspects of a Match-Up – KO %’s, moves that trade, moves that lose, moves that win, range differences, etc…

You can practice bad DI/no DI KO %’s in Training Mode. You don’t need to play a human to know when Back Throw KOs at center stage or either side of the stage. If you need good DI, either enlist the help of a friend or just grab a second controller and do the DI yourself. Write these %’s down and remember them.

When you’re recording these, I would record with and without rage, and with and without staling. The point here is to create a KO % range that you can then reference as you play. That way you don’t run into situations where your opponent is living insanely long and draining your patience.

For move interactions, this can be accomplished through playing a CPU or a human player. If you’re looking for a very specific move to test against, you’re better off grabbing a friend. Otherwise, just take notes when fighting CPU’s of the results of the move interactions you notice.

For range differences, I suggest you shadow box against a standing opponent or a CPU. Shadow boxing is a style of training where you visualize a standing opponent to be moving. The goal is not to hit your opponent, but rather pretend they’re attacking you and you responding to that. For example, go into training mode and visualize an MK dash attack and try and space around it. What’s a good range to be at to react safely, what’s not? Then go fight a MK CPU and stay at the maximum ‘safe’ range you have for Dash Attack. Is there anything else you’re feeling safe from or threatened by at that range? Do you feel you can punish effectively by always staying at that range?

Technical Ability

This is something I feel you need to practice by yourself before you start practicing with others. Like performing a choreographed dance, when you first start attempting these techniques you’re going to find yourself thinking about the inputs you’re making. If you attempt to use a new technique mid-match, you’ll most likely fail it and you’ll probably stop thinking about what’s currently going on in the match.

You need to commit all movements and inputs to memory, to the point that it feels like second nature and you can perform the technique flawlessly without error under stress.

So, there are three phases to perfecting a technique.

First Phase

Training Mode only. You should spend more time practicing the technique and starting to commit it to muscle memory. Don’t use it in friendlies. Don’t use it in a tournament set.

Once you can perform it near-flawlessly in Training Mode, it’s time to move onto the next phase.

Second Phase

Play against a CPU opponent. CPU opponents allow you to simulate an actual match and practice utilizing the technique as you move around in a relatively stress-free environment. This allows you to use it against moving opponents without feeling the pressure to win/impress/etc… and you can be fully concentrated on finding spots to use it most effectively. Once you can do this almost flawlessly, you move onto the final phase.

Third Phase

Play friendlies. Now that you’ve basically mastered this technique’s execution, it’s time to use it in friendlies. Friendlies incur at least a little bit of stress, which is what you now need to practice executing the technique under. I recommend playing a few higher-stakes money matches to help you even more. Again, the goal is to be able to do this almost flawlessly.

Once you’re feeling comfortable in friendlies and ONLY then should you start using the technique in tournament. You’ll find your use of it to be incredibly consistent utilizing this method, and you’ll be able to summon it in very stressful situations when you need it the most.

Fundamentals

If you need a refresher on what fundamentals are, go check out my very first post on improving in Smash 4.

Fundamentals are tricky by yourself. A lot of it you can’t practice without a human opponent, but before we get to those let’s get to the two facets of fundamentals you can practice by yourself: Reactions and Punishes and Option Coverage.

To practice Reactions and Punishes, fight a CPU and focus on reacting, not preemptively striking, the CPU. No reading, no throwing out moves to cover space. Just try and react to what the CPU does. If they’re in a knockdown, try and react to how they get up. Same as when they air dodge, roll, spot dodge, or do anything from the ledge. CPU’s have been coded to be perfect defense machines (in most close-range combat situations), so take advantage of this.

To practice Option Coverage, play a CPU and try and cover as many getup and ledge options as possible when they arise. Try and frame trap their air dodging. Throw out moves to cover space and see what option the CPU uses successfully and unsuccessfully. What’s nice about these two is you can combine practicing them. I wouldn’t recommend doing this until you’re a little proficient at both, but it’s quite effective.

As for the others, I recommend watching videos with a specific fundamental in mind. Watch, say, ZeRo vs. Dabuz Grand Finals at Genesis 3. First, watch it focusing on how the two space. Then watch it again and focus on how they position themselves. Then watch it again and focus on how they adapt. Watch it one more time and watch how they combine all the components of fundamentals into their neutral game.

Once you’re more proficient, try analyzing every component with just one viewing. If you watch it and found yourself lost while analyzing, watch it again.

This can take some time, but it will not only help you become a better player, this has the added bonus of helping you become a more analytical commentator (which we have very few of in the Chicago Smash 4 scene).

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As you can see, there’s a lot you can do on your own. Next time, I’ll be covering how to practice these methods with a human opponent!

Just Sayin’

Unrivaled Tournaments:
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Check out the rest of the series!

I – Fundamentals
II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups
III – Attitude
IV – Friendlies
V – Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
VII – Training Regimens
VIII – Character Loyalty

Check out the BONUS series!

IX – The Plateau
XI – Practice Methods II
XII – Practice Methods III
XIII – At a Tournament
XIV – Practice Methods BONUS IV
XV – Game Flow

 

 

4 Years and Running!

This totally should’ve been put up on the 2nd, buuuuut I’ve been so caught up in the whirlwind of being recently engaged and AGDQ that I didn’t even get around to writing it.

Anyway, it’s been 4 years since I started this – to be honest, I’m surprised I’m still writing. This year I took a very Super Smash Bros. direction due to my inability to actually participate in tournaments and created a series on this blog for newcomers and players striving to really improve. Hopefully, it’s helped the Chicago Smash 4 Community improve. I had a lot of fun doing those, and while I’ll still be writing about basically whatever, I’ll be injecting a lot more Super Smash Bros. into my blog.

Also, expect some small fan-fiction once I finally get around to writing some. They’ll be short little stories, probably about Pokemon. I love to role-play, and writing small fan-fiction short stories is part of that for me. It’ll be rare when I post one, but I want to post at least one on this blog this year.

With all of that said, Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a good year for everyone 🙂

Just Sayin’

GUEST ARTICLE – 3 Steps to Training an Offensive Amiibo

Wow, what a week last week was! I was so busy I didn’t get to put up anything I wanted to. This week, you’ll get two posts – tonight’s guest article and my review of Steins;Gate tomorrow!

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Amiibos and the concept of “training” them. Hell, I’ve won a few money matches with my Kirby Amiibo, HUPBOYZ. This guy, Glenn Cravens, is a tournament Amiibo trainer, which I think is pretty cool. Unlike my style of keeping an Amiibo itemless, he attends events where utilizing different combinations of items and skills is the way to win. If you’re interested in something like this (I know I’ll definitely be doing it with at least one Amiibo!), you should check out his stuff! There’ll be some links at the end of the article.

This is an article he wrote about training an offensive Amiibo. Enjoy!

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There are so many ways an Amiibo can be built and trained to dominate the competition. Some people like a balanced attack, while others prefer a defensive style or offensive style. I have tried several different Amiibo builds, including ones that are completely focused on offense. I use these Amiibos as sparring partners to get my main Amiibos ready for tournaments.

Recently, I had one of these offensive Amiibos play a few friendlies against other trainers’ Amiibos, and they dominated the competition. Perhaps this offensive Amiibo could be just as good if put in a tournament. Today, I want to share with you the five-step process I used to create one of these offensive juggernauts so you can build a similar Amiibo and take down fellow friends’ Amiibos.

First, I want to present to you my Charizard Amiibo. He is perhaps the most offensive-focused Amiibo I have and the greatest sparring partner for my main tournament Amiibos. Here are his stats:

  • 200 points Attack
  • 120 points Defense
  • -200 points Speed
  • Critical Hit
  • Double Improved Trade-Off Ability (60%)

I’m sharing with you how Charizard is built so you can get a quick idea of how I set him up to be heavily offensive. I’ll reference him a few times in this post. With that, let’s get to building your Amiibo.

It doesn’t matter whether your Amiibo is already at Level 50. Because Amiibos continue to learn even after Level 50, it should be able to take the lessons you are teaching it and apply it to future matches. For this lesson, I’m going to be teaching as if your Amiibo is already at Level 50.

Step 1: Visualization

The first thing I tell every trainer is to envision how their Amiibo will act under the build they are creating. So before we start, envision how your Amiibo will play in games as a heavily offensive character. It is going to do a lot of smash attacks and go for big damage early and often. It’s all about taking its power and using it to destroy everyone in its path. Spend a couple of moments envisioning your Amiibo in action destroying the competition.

Step 2: Creation

Now that you have an idea of how it will play, the next thing is to get to building said Amiibo. You’re going to enter into the Amiibo settings, where you can customize it with equipment upgrades and bonuses.

Since we’re going for power, I’ve saved you some time in trying to figure out what is best. First off, let’s start with the point distribution. You can feed your Amiibo equipment upgrades and bonuses to buff its Attack, Defense and Speed concentrations. For power purposes, there are three combinations you can go with. I’ll explain the reasoning behind all three.

  • 120 Attack, 0 Defense, 0 Speed: This is a typical offensive build. Since you’re allowed a maximum of 120 cumulative points without going into the negative on any concentration, it makes sense to slam it all toward Attack.
  • 200 Attack, 0 Defense, -80 Speed: You can go into the negative on one concentration in order to overload another concentration. That’s what this combination is all about. You’re giving the Attack concentration the most points possible to make its moves as strong as it can be. However, we’re taking away from the Speed concentration, which is OK because your Amiibo will still have some mobility. It should be able to recover if knocked off of the stage.
  • 200 Attack, 120 Defense, -200 Speed: With this combination, we’re maxing out the stats. Your Amiibo will be all power and will have a chance to withstand some attacks, but it will have no mobility, and if it is knocked off of the stage, there’s little chance it returns.

If your Amiibo has multiple jumps, I recommend 200/120/-200 because of the built-in advantage of returning to the stage should it get knocked off from there. That’s why I went with that combination for Charizard, given he has multiple recovery options in addition to his jumps.

Next, let’s focus on the bonuses we want to give our Amiibo. There are plenty that are geared toward offense, some better than others. I’ve come up with three specific combinations you should give your Amiibo if you’re focused on offense.

  • Critical Hit, Double Improved Trade-Off Attack (30%): Since Critical Hit is going to be in every combination I mention, let me break it down for a moment. With Critical Hit, any attack your Amiibo does has a 1-in-5 chance of doing extra damage. A single-digit percentage hit suddenly becomes 35 to 40 percent. A regular smash attack can turn into a one-hit KO. That’s how lethal Critical Hit can be. If you’re thinking offense, this is why you must have Critical Hit equipped as one of the three bonuses. With Improved Trade-Off Attack, your Amiibo starts off at 30 percent damage, but every hit does 1.15 times the damage. You can stack this bonus, which means starting off at a higher percentage but doing more damage. With this combination, your Amiibo is doing stronger attacks than normal, and there’s a chance it will get an additional attack boost.
  • Critical Hit, Double Improved Trade-Off Ability (60%): With Improved Trade-Off Ability, your Amiibo starts at 60 percent damage. However, the Amiibo slowly gains strength, defense and speed the longer it stays alive in the current stock. With two of these added, the Amiibo starts at 90 percent damage, but it gains twice as much strength, defense and speed. That’s why I have this equipped on my Charizard. Although Charizard is at minus-200 speed, it is regaining his mobility, and if he stays alive for a long time, the negative effect is gone. Oh, by the way, it’s also gaining attack power as well to go along with his already boosted attack.
  • Critical Hit, Double Improved Attack/Speed at 0 Percent: With the 0 percent bonus, an Amiibo gains a boost as long as it stays at 0 percent. Equipping two of these bonuses is huge, because one or two hits can result in a KO. However, the downside of the bonus is that even being at 1 percent means the bonus is gone. You can swap out one of the Improved Attack/Speed at 0 Percent bonuses for Auto-Heal, but you’re better off taking the risk of going for the early KO. If you can’t go with one of the previous two bonus combinations because you don’t have the bonuses available, consider this one.

Step 3: Training

Now that you’ve equipped your Amiibo, it’s time to train it to be the offensive juggernaut it should be. The training comes down to two lessons – grabbing and smash attacks.

If you went with one of the first two bonus combinations, your Amiibo will be at a percentage disadvantage as mentioned. Its mentality, even before you train it, will be to catch up in percentage to its opponent, which is probably starting off at 0 percent. The quickest way for your Amiibo to get there is by performing smash attacks, which your Amiibo will do constantly because it will feel it needs to pull even as soon as it can.

With this first game, we’re going to teach it to harness the power of its smash attack instead of just going for it randomly. Enter into a game against your Amiibo and play in a timed match, preferably five minutes. You can choose any character, although I prefer to use the Amiibo’s character. You’re going to play on an Omega-style stage or Final Destination.

When the game begins, walk up to your Amiibo and try to forward smash it. Even if you miss in this one attempt, make sure you do it. If you hit it, follow up with another forward smash. At some point, your Amiibo will predict it and attack you in some form.

When your Amiibo gets you, that’s when it’s time to change up. After recovering from whatever hit your Amiibo did, you’re going to wait for the Amiibo to attack again. When it does, roll dodge or spot dodge to get out of the way. If you get the dodge, then follow up with a smash attack. If your Amiibo dodges, then it will likely follow up with an attack of its own, which you’ll try to dodge, etc. This is the process you’re going to do for the full five minutes.

If you’re wondering about the outcome of the game, don’t. Winning and losing should not matter when you’re training your Amiibo. The ultimate goal is to teach it what you want it to learn, and in this game, we’re teaching it to rely on its forward smash.

After you’re done with the five-minute game, you’re going to play another five-minute game. In this game, our goal is to grab and throw the Amiibo. This is a tougher task because your Amiibo will attack you with the smash attacks you tried to teach it in the previous game. Like you did in the previous game, you can wait until the Amiibo attacks, spot dodge or roll dodge out of the way and then get the grab. You can also stand several body lengths away from the Amiibo and then do a dash grab.

Again, you’re not going to worry about the outcome of the game. Your goal in the second game should be to grab and throw the Amiibo as much as you can.

When you’re done with the two games, you have the option of going through the two games again or moving to the next step. It doesn’t hurt to give your Amiibos as much practice as you can, so feel free to go back and do the lessons a couple more times.

In the final step, we’re going to have our Amiibo go up against another opponent. It is preferred that the other opponent is an Amiibo. If you use a CPU character, be aware that it will take some of the lessons learned from what the CPU does. You can also have a friend or family member go up against it.

You’re going to have your Amiibo play under tournament settings: 2 out of 3 games, 2 stock, 6 minutes, Omega-style stage or Final Destination. You’re going to watch to see how your Amiibo does in action against its opponent. It should be going for power in some situations and grabs in other situations.

When the match is done, you’ve completed the guide! However, Amiibo training is nonstop, and to keep your Amiibo in top shape, you need to train it consistently. I suggest going back into training against your Amiibo and then putting it in more matches against other Amiibos. The more your Amiibo plays, the more experience it will have, which will make it stronger.

Happy training, and I hope to see your heavy hitter at a future tournament!

Glenn Cravens is the host of the Amiibo Trainer Podcast, which runs Monday through Friday on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud. For a free training guide, head to amiibotrainer.com/amiibo15.

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Just Sayin’

Improvement in Smash 4 VII – Training Regimens

**If you’re unfamiliar with Smash, this probably isn’t the post for you unless you’re curious. In order to get a full understanding of this, you should be familiar with Smash’s game mechanics and lingo (EX: Forward Air = Fair), specifically the mechanics for Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Let’s talk about how you train. Back in my post about fundamentals, I said that you had to play for at least 30 minutes every day if you wanted to improve. However, just playing for 30 minutes isn’t going to help you. You want to narrow down what you’re practicing on any given day, much like how an athlete trains different skills and works out different parts of their body on different days. You need a Training Regimen.

Now, what your regimen should be is a fairly loose subject. It can range from practicing a certain technique with a character to match up knowledge. Whatever you choose, there’s a certain way to practice those techniques. Now, I’m not going to say that the way I practice is superior; everyone learns differently. You need to find what works best for you when it comes to training. If you’re lost, follow my guidelines to at least set up a base. These are if you’re practicing alone against CPU’s. Obviously, you can practice with other players, but make sure that when practicing a MU you play someone who uses the character you want to practice against in tournament.

Match-Ups

Play the MU you want to practice 10 times in a row. Pick the stages you want to practice on (if you don’t care, choose the stages you know you’ll be playing the MU on and pick randomly).

Fundamentals

Play against any character, any (legal) stage, and practice only a couple fundamental skills at a time. Don’t just beat up on the CPU – really think as you try to apply those fundamental concepts. This includes pausing to

Techniques

Techniques are tricky. A lot of players will practice a technique and then go into a match and try to use it and fail horribly. Why? Because they’ve only been practicing in training mode. They haven’t applied the technique to an actual match where they’re not in complete control of the situation. The way I practice a technique is to practice execution, and then try and use it while fighting CPU’s in the same training session. I keep doing this and reserve using it in friendlies until I’m comfortable using it against CPU’s, and then I’ll start using it in friendlies. Once I become comfortable in friendlies, I’ll use it in tournament.

The key here is to practice execution, then application. Rinse and repeat that for techniques.

Creating Your Training Regimen

Okay, let’s get down to creating your training regimen. The one guideline you should follow is at least half your time should be dedicated to fundamentals. You should plan out your regimen each week based on the previous week and try and improve on what you think you need to improve on. For example, recently I went to Mashfest, and I lost very decisively to Luigi twice, and struggled to win against another. I would definitely include MU practice against Luigi in the next couple of weeks to try and see what I can do to improve my knowledge of the match up. If new tech has been discovered, start dedicating some time the following week to implement it.

Here’s a sample from when I was playing Project M heavily. I only played for 30 minutes every day I trained, 5 days a week.

THURSDAY
30 mins Fundamentals

FRIDAY
15 mins Fundamentals
15 mins IDC stuff

SATURDAY
15 mins Fundamentals
15 mins Fox MU Practice

SUNDAY
15 mins Fundamentals
15 mins Wolf MU Practice

MONDAY
30 mins Fundamentals

TUESDAY
15 mins IDC stuff
15 mins Falco MU Practice

WENESDAY
Wave Dash Wednesday – no training

You can probably tell which MU’s I struggled with since I was practicing them. If you notice, my week starts with Thursday and ends with Wednesday. That’s because the local tournament, Wave Dash Wednesday (WDW), was on Wednesdays, so there was no need to practice on that day. It’s also the day that I would re-evaluate what MU’s or other techniques I wanted to work on and update my regimen. Again, this is just a base to help you get started. The most important thing to do is stick to it and keep updating it as you improve.

If you’ve got locals you go to, make sure you factor those in. There’s absolutely no need to practice on the day of a local. You don’t want to burn yourself out by training too much. Also, if you’re serious about doubles, make sure to try and include that in your regimen as well. As you can see, doubles wasn’t a big priority for me back then.

With a training regimen, you can start taking charge of how you’ll be improving instead of just playing and not having any focus. If you’re serious about winning, I highly suggest you implement one.

Just Sayin’

I – Fundamentals
II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups
III – Attitude
IV – Friendlies
V – Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
VIII – Character Loyalty

Check out the BONUS series!

IX – The Plateau
X – Practice Methods I
XI – Practice Methods II
XII – Practice Methods III
XIII – At a Tournament
XIV – Practice Methods BONUS IV
XV – Game Flow