Kappy’s Spotlight — Fire Pop

It’s that time again: #KappySpotlight time, where I talk about badges/items/partners/etc… that are generally seen as “bad” and not used very often by challenge runners. I dive deeper into why they’re perceived the way they are with some cool strategies centered around them mixed in! Today, I’ll be covering a really unique item in 64 that has an effect most items don’t: FIRE POP!

Before we jump in, I want to relay some sad news — this will be the last Kappy Spotlight…for now. I feel I’ve covered many of the lower-tiered things when it comes to Paper Mario combat and I think it’s time to retire the series for now to focus on other things. I’ve also been busier than ever and finding time to write has been increasingly more difficult. If I’m ever inspired to cover something else, I will, and I’ll still be trying to write a few more things for Paper Mario Talks as well, so do look forward to those! Anyway, enough of that — let’s look at Fire Pop!

firepop

Move: Restores 20 FP and reduces HP by 1.

The “reducing HP by 1” part is what’s interesting. 20 FP is a pretty nice FP heal, but what’s more interesting is being able to finely tune Mario’s HP with an item that can also restore a good amount of FP. When you look at the item, it’s really not amazing by any means. It’s cool, and the effect is unique, but more often than not you can just get to Danger or Peril through being attacked and knowing which attacks to guard and not guard, and it doesn’t have the fine-tuning that, say, a Dried Shroom or Mistake might have when it comes to taking damage over a large number of turns. However, this item could lead to some interesting badge setups. Let’s check out a couple strategies involving Fire Pop!

LAVA PIRANHA STRAT

This is a little bit of a special case, but I wanted to include this because it shows off Fire Pop. Over the past couple of years, the Glitz Pit has done Community Challenges. These were challenges hosted by the server that everyone could participate in. The gist was that every month, we’d proceed through a Chapter and set restrictions for the bosses & mini-bosses (including all optional ones) that came from community members. The restrictions for Chapter 5 for Lava Piranha were:

– Only items with “candy” or “pop” in their name could be used (attacking items excluded)
– Sushie cannot be used
– You cannot equip Ice Power or Fire Shield

– You cannot use multi-target attacks/items

NOTE: We did Chapter 5 in October of 2018, hence the “Halloween Candy” restriction.

Okay, so now that you’ve seen the restrictions, you can probably see why Fire Pop is used. Let’s take a look at the strategy!

10 HP, 10 FP
BADGES: Power Bounce, Hammer Throw, Double Dip, Quick Change, Dodge Master, Power Plus x2, Defend Plus, Mega Rush (30 BP)
ITEMS: Fire Pop, Lemon Candy, Thunder Bolt

T1: Turbo Charge, Fire Pop *Guard only Bud attacks
T2: Power Bounce (4 bounces), Fan Smack [Phase 1 Ends]
T3: Fan Smack, Double Dip (Lemon Candy, Thunder Bolt)
T4: Hammer Throw, Outta Sight
T5: Hammer Throw [KO]

Because of the candy restriction, perfect FP use wasn’t too much of a worry because basically, all the items with “pop” and “candy” in their names restore a good portion of FP. I knew I wanted to use Peril, but I needed a way to get into Peril Turn 1 and in the second Phase since Lava Piranha was guaranteed to attack then. Enter Fire Pop. Because of my restriction on items, I was basically chained to 3 or 5 HP heals. Damage Dodge wouldn’t allow me to get back into Peril off of a Phase 2 attack, so I turned to Defend Plus. I had more than a few ways to get into Peril but decided to make use of Fire Pop. I do want to note that while this is a strategy showing off Fire Pop, it didn’t help me in saving turns or BP — it was more for flash here. Anyway, I added Power Bounce for a quick KO Phase 1 and Hammer Throw for Phase 2 and I was set. Let’s begin the battle!

Turn 1 is setup. We Turbo Charge and Fire Pop to restore the FP lost from Turbo Charge, then get into Peril through specific guarding. Then, we Power Bounce for 30 damage and Fan Smack, ending Phase 1 quickly. Now Phase 2 starts. We Fan Smack and Double Dip Turn 3 with a Lemon Candy to restore 5 HP and our FP once more, along with a Thunder Bolt. I want to note that had we note recovered with the Fire Pop Turn 1, we wouldn’t’ve had enough FP for that Double Dip. Turn 4, we Hammer Throw for 13 damage as Turbo Charge goes away. And guess how much HP Lava Piranha has left? That’s right: 12 HP. We Hammer Throw for now 12 damage to end the fight with perfect damage!

Like I said before, Fire Pop wasn’t the crux of my strategy, but I wanted to show this off because it used Fire Pop to eliminate a guard I needed to pull off to get into Peril and is an actual unique strategy that I used during an actual challenge featuring today’s spotlight, which is, well, rare!

Okay, let’s look at another strategy with Fire Pop!

CRYSTAL KING STRAT

10 HP, 5 FP
BADGES: Super Jump Charge, Power Plus x2, All or Nothing, Power Bounce, Flower Saver, Mega Rush, Damage Dodge (30 BP)
ITEMS: Fire Pop

T1: Super Jump Charge, Turbo Charge *Guard two bits
T2: Fire Pop, Electro Dash (65)
T3: Chill Out, Electro Dash (60)
T4: Hammer, Electro Dash (43)
T5: Star Storm, Electro Dash (miss AC) (35)
T6: Power Bounce (3 bounces), Electro Dash [KO]

This strat is a little complicated and requires a little RNG, so let’s dive in! As I’ve mentioned before in my Mega Jump spotlight, Crystal King has 70 HP, 6 ATK, and 2 DEF. The goal of this strat was to get into Peril using a Fire Pop and then KO him with a Power Bounce once he was low enough. Because of the 2 DEF, we equip all ATK-increasing badges and Super Jump Charge and lean on Flower Saver and Damage Dodge for support. With this setup and a Fire Pop’s FP healing, we can get away with 10 HP 5 FP against Crystal King!

So, let’s jump in. We set up Turn 1 with Turbo Charge and Super Jump Charge and guard two of the bits. Each bit does 4 damage, so we take one and guard twice (it’s 2 damage with Damage Dodge) to get to 2 HP. Next turn, we restore our FP with Fire Pop and simultaneously put ourselves in Peril! We Electro Dash because Watt has nothing else to do and we don’t have the luxury of Quick Change with this badge setup. This turn, Crystal King summons more ice bits. Next turn, to prevent ourselves from being KO’d, we Chill Out and guard all of the bits. We once again Electro Dash.

Turn 4, we Hammer to pile on some extra damage and set us up for the Power Bounce finisher. This is also the turn that Turbo Charge will end, so we should attack to make sure it wasn’t wasted. Currently, Mario’s base ATK with the Ultra Hammer is 6. With two Power Plus badges and All or Nothing, that’s 9. With Turbo Charge, that’s 10, and with Mega Rush, that’s 14. Factor in Crystal King’s 2 DEF, and we’re at 12 damage. We Electro Dash as well, leaving Crystal King at 43 HP. At this point, Crystal King will summon ice bits again — he doesn’t change phases until he’s at or below 35 HP.

Next turn, we Star Storm for 7 damage, leaving Crystal King at 36, and then miss Electro Dash’s Action Command to put him at 35, just enough to activate the next trigger. At this point, there is some slight RNG which we will not be accounting for — I call these “RNG Chokepoints” in a strategy. Normally, I try to make these at the beginning of a fight and only have one or two maximum, if possible. Sometimes, a strategy needs a little RNG to work, and it’d be too difficult to work around it or working around it defeats the whole purpose of the strategy. Here, Crystal King has a chance to heal since his HP is under 38. It’s not a strong chance since he’s entering Phase 2 and will likely use bit spit this turn, but it’s something to consider.

Anyway, assuming he uses bit spit Turn 5, Turn 6 we KO him. Currently, Mario’s base ATK with Ultra Boots is 3. With the ATK-increasing badges, it’s 6, and with one Super Jump Charge, it’s at 9. With Mega Rush, it’s 13. Subtract Crystal King’s 2 DEF, and we’re at 11 ATK. Crystal King actually has a chance to cap at 3 for Power Bounce without Dodge Master equipped, so that’s the cap we’re going to use. 11 + 10 + 9 = 30 damage exactly, and leaves him with just enough HP for Watt to finish him off with Electro Dash for perfect damage!

Fire Pop is unique and cool and it is fun to build a strategy around/with, so give it a try if you’re looking to manipulate Mario’s HP in a different way!

And that’s it for my spotlights (for now). I hope you all have enjoyed them and maybe learned something while reading them. If you’re wanting to ask me questions directly, Twitter and Discord are the two best ways to reach me, and I’m always happy to help strategize or just talk about combat in Paper Mario!

Just Sayin’

 

OPINION: Smash – the Items, the Stages, the Random

Recently, thanks to the good graces of Smashboards on Facebook, I came upon a Super Smash Bros. for WiiU stage discussion thread. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, in competitive Smash certain stages are banned from competitive play, making stage lists an element when it comes to tournaments.

Generally, legal stages are “flat/plat” (flat or flat with platforms only) stages, such as Battlefield or Final Destination, and this causes a rift between more liberal and conservative (in terms of stages and even items) competitive players. The thread I was reading was basically an amalgamation of these two kinds of players arguing with each other about what stages should be legal (and some even saying items should be included).

I thought I’d chime in with my own opinion.

I don’t like stages with hazards (and when I mean hazards, I mean the F-Zero racers in Mute City/Port Town Aero Dive, the lava on Brinstar, the cannon and bombs on Halberd, the bullet bill on Peach’s Castle (in Super Smash Bros. Melee) and random stage changes (Pictochat, Brinstar Depths, WarioWare, to name a few). To me, I think these introduce a certain amount of randomness that not even the best players can avoid at times, and it leads to unfair advantages at no cost to the player given the advantage.

Some people will argue that these new elements introduce a new layer of depth to the competitive game. A player should not only know his character and match-ups, but also the hazards and timers for each stage (while random, many stages have a “timer” that tells the stage when to spawn a hazard or change the stage). The same case can be made for items.

The other argument for a more liberal stage list and items are that “there’s an equal chance that it will happen to everybody”.

I could have agreed with these two statements…but I also play Pokemon competitively.

Pokemon is a game that, no matter what, randomness is an inherent part of the game. In Smash, you have the option of turning off items and stages. You do not have that option in Pokemon. In Pokemon, there is no choice to learn risk management and randomizer mitigation – you have to to be a successful player. The best players in Pokemon are consistent because of this. Yet, yet, there is always that time that something goes horribly wrong. “Hax” is a term thrown around in Pokemon, namely because of the randomness in the game. While consistent, some of the best players will lose games because of an unlucky critical hit, freeze, extra turn of sleep, full paralysis, miss, flinch, or confusion hit. All of these (except for critical hit) result in a wasted turn.

Despite all the training one can do, when it comes down to it that one critical hit or full paralysis can be completely game-changing, yet it stays at 25% chance for paralysis no matter what. There’s always a 10% chance Ice Beam will freeze, but sometimes it freezes two turns in a row, sometimes it never freezes. Sometimes a pokemon will hit itself 4 times in a row in confusion. It’s an equal 50% chance for every pokemon that is confused, but it’s still random. Sometimes, despite all efforts to mitigate risk and “hax”, it still happens, and you end up losing because of it, despite being the better player.

This is something that competitive Pokemon players have come to terms with, but in a game where you have the ability to test who is better with raw skill only by turning off random elements, I don’t see why you wouldn’t. Pokemon, while popular, can be scoffed at because of its inherent randomness. No one wants to lose a game they should have won because their opponent got the critical hit they needed to win the game (in fact, I lost a game of Pokemon I played this morning because of a critical hit). You’re playing the odds sometimes, and that takes no thought – all you’re thinking at that point is, “If I get a critical hit this turn, I’ll win.” Notice the ‘if’, there. You have no control over whether or not you get a critical hit the next turn. There’s no depth there. There’s a ton of depth in trying to mitigate odds and maximizing your risk/reward safely (which Pokemon has and is what makes it satisfying to play for me), but you can’t ‘mitigate’ odds in Smash. There’s no move that prevents the lava from rising or to make Pictochat have the spikes come and not the trampolines. All you can do is hope that that capsule you just grabbed is an explosive. Hopefully that Pokeball you just got isn’t Goldeen.

There’s something to be said about how Pokemon can deal with risk, despite the inherent randomness involved in playing it competitively. You can make plays to protect yourself from “hax”. There are moves in the game that stop status effects (Safeguard and Taunt, namely). You can’t do that in Smash, but what you can do in Smash is turn off items and stages that have random effects. Turning off items and hazardous stages is the Safegaurd in competitive Smash. It doesn’t matter that there’s an equal chance you’ll both get an item or hit by the stage hazards. There’s a 20% chance for every pokemon that’s frozen to thaw out but some thaw out the next turn, some never thaw out the rest of the match, and some thaw out the turn they’re frozen.

There’s clearly no skill involved in a pokemon being frozen. There’s no depth there. So, I ask you, where’s the depth in that % chance that your capsule’s an explosive one or that once the timer activates, Pictochat spawns the man’s head that blows wind instead of the piranha plant?

I love items in Smash. I love crazy stages that screw people over. I enjoy playing on them them. I do NOT enjoy playing on them when I want to prove that I’m better than someone else. I want to know that I won because I made the better plays; not because a bomb dropped on you while attacking my shield, and not because the Pictochat spikes appeared right as you were jumping to avoid an attack I made.

Just Sayin’.