Kappy’s Paper Mario Challenge Running Tier List v4.0 (December 2018)

Since the end of December of 2017, I’ve been keeping tabs on the players who challenge run Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. I did this mainly because despite there not being an official list of the best players from the Glitz Pit Discord, there’s still discussion about it. Also, I like tier lists.

No extra fluff like last update. The only thing I’ll mention is I didn’t write a little blurb unless your position changed in some way or something really stood out. So, let’s jump right in.

 

GOD TIER

— The best of the best. The cream of the crop.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Jdaster64
  • Kappy — The + goes away. To be honest, I definitely feel like I’m on a decline, and I’ll bet a lot of people are thinking the same. I’ve been focusing on my personal life (since I got a new puppy) and my other streaming endeavors, putting challenge running on the back burner without finishing everything I wanted to do (particularly in TTYD). In order to 110% cement myself as the Greatest Of All Time in Paper Mario challenge running, I’m going to be kicking myself into high gear next year. I don’t like getting rusty, and I’m feeling more determined than ever.
  • Koop
TTYD
  • ilikepieinmouth — Pie has now completed Impossible Pit and a slew of ultra superguard heavy Pit runs. At this point, I would go as far as to say he is the best superguarder in TTYD. However, I think he’s going too far into these superguard-heavy runs. I’d like to see Pie demonstrate that he can strategize with the best of them and not need to rely on raw superguarding to push through to victory — in fact, I’d like to see some superguardless runs. At this point, just seeing him superguard everything is getting stale, and while his position here is pretty stable, you can always fall from godhood; in my eyes, he will if he doesn’t change up his game…
64
None.

ELITE TIER

— Players in this tier are highly proficient in their game of choice. These are some of the best.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Fatguy
  • GamerFourFun — With a recent Level -1 completion in 64 (including Final Bowser), GamerFourFun has reached Elite level in both games. This guy just keeps completing runs from fun to difficult. I hope he continues to play…he has potential to push through to God tier in either game. I think he goes relatively unnoticed, which is too bad. Go watch this guy!
  • MilesLuigi
  • Olmi
TTYD
  • A. A. Ran
  • amazydayzee
  • Gibstack — With a flurry of Pit challenges and some cool other challenges that aren’t the Extreme Randomizer, I think Gibstack has finally earned his spot as an Elite player in TTYD! His best asset is his strategy, which is something I rarely see in Elite TTYD players — most of them lean on the superguard side.
64
  • DarkMario1000

GREAT TIER

— Players in this tier are proficient in their game of choice. These are what I would consider to be a “general” challenge runner.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • MellowMathTeacher
TTYD
  • DarkMario1000
  • Dyla+
  • Kyle — Another explosive challenge runner. Like Dyla, he completed a bunch of Pit challenges: PHP, PHP NMRP, 10 HP PHP NMRP, Prologue Pit, and then 10 HP Prologue Pit all blazing fast. A couple things are holding him back, but to summarize — not enough strategy-involved challenges, and not enough footage. If he’s trying to be the best superguarder, then I’d say he’s easily the 4th best superguarder…but I’d like to see how his consistency evolves over time before I say he’s better than any of the current top 3.
  • Miccat87+ — Miccat has completed Disabled Pre-Ch2 Pit, and is now working on BP Only and No Damage. This will be a great chance to see how he strategizes, and might be what pushes him over the edge into Elite. We’ll just have to wait and see…
  • StarmanOmega
64
  • Timmy — Now that the 64 community challenges have gone through almost the whole game, I’ve been able to see more of Timmy’s play. The more I see, the more I like, and with Pro Mode Single Partner already on his resume, there’s other place but Great. We’ll see if he can push further than this.
  • TwoPieRadian

GOOD TIER

— Players here have breached past what I would consider “casual” and are officially challenge runners (or have the skills to be one). Most new challenge runners will be put her since usually they’ve only completed one or two challenges or are in the process of completing their first one.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • simodomino
TTYD
  • Gible_V
  • TwoPieRadian
64
  • A. A. Ran+ — Thanks to the Community Challenges, I can see a clear improvement in A. A. Ran’s play in 64. There’s a lot of strategizing coming from him, and while his strategies aren’t the most elegant, they’re definitely getting better. I expect him to be Great tier by the end of them.
  • Jon — A newcomer with the community challenges underway. He’s not bad; I can easily seeing him pushing into Great soon, but we’ll see how he fares from there.
  • Lolyuri — Another newcomer thanks to the community challenges! Lolyuri is good, and I’m seeing some nice play…he could push into Great easily if I see more.
  • Mailguy — Yet another newcomer with the 64 Community Challenges underway. He relies a little too heavily on RNG as his core, but shows promise. He just needs to work more reliability into how he plays.
  • Miccat87

INACTIVE TIER

— Inactive Players. Players have their last tier listed for reference.
(sorted alphabetically)
  • Auron Nomcario — Great Tier (64) | Good Tier (TTYD)
  • avengah — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Blanket P.I. — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • catbooger — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Codebox — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • DiamondCrafterA — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Dount Cooku — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Feposo — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gradis — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jayjar100 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • JakeTheSnake — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Mathcat — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Michael The Fox — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Mr_Some1 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • ngburns — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • OmegaRaptor — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Prentiscool — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Skawo — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • Snowy — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Starlad — Good Tier (64)
  • stebbdogg — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Wayoshi — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
  • ThatOneSpyGuy — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • TRex Quisite — Great Tier (COMBINED)
NOTABLE CHANGES & THOUGHTS
  • Pie, in my opinion, has succeeded me as the current best superguarder in TTYD. Congrats, Pie! Your hard work in that area has paid off!…but seriously, go do some superguardless challenges.
  • Kyle really shook up the game. If he completes Impossible Mode soon I think he’ll be ahead of A. A. Ran and become the third best superguarder.
  • Congrats to GamerFourFun for becoming Elite in both games!
  • It’s been 1 year since I started making these. I hope you all have been enjoying them as much as I have making them!

And that’s it for this version of the tier list! I hope you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on this. If you’re interested in making it on this list, start challenge running (and if I missed you, let me know)! A great resource for challenge runners is the Glitz Pit, a Discord server dedicated to challenge running the Paper Mario series.

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Paper Mario Talks — Kappy’s Partner & Special Move/Star Power Tier Lists (+ comparison to Glitz Pit lists)

As I said in my previous entry, the Glitz Pit Discord Server (link at the bottom of this post) cast judgment on badges in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, bringing to light a tier list for more hardcore players. This time, we’re going to go over something many players also debate on — Partners and Special Moves/Star Powers in both TTYD and Paper Mario. However, we did things a little differently.
Instead of giving a tier, we basically just rated the order of each from best to worst. While there are certainly “breaks” within these lists where partners could be placed in the same tier, we felt that an ordered list would work better for Partners and Special Moves/Star Powers given the small amount of each compared to badges. Of course, like with badges, the overall opinion of the 30+ players who voted and discussed these are a little different from mine. I’ll be showing you each list with my own ranking next to it, and talk about some key differences. Remember, the Glitz Pit list is framed with a challenge runner in mind. Let’s start with TTYD!

PARTNERS

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There’s actually not much to say here — I voted with the majority. There was a lot of debate between Yoshi and Goombella, but in the end, Yoshi’s ability to hit everything for huge amounts of damage barely won out over Goombella’s superior single-target damage and versatility with Rally Wink. To me, Yoshi and Goombella could easily be seen as the best partner — it just depends on how you fight. I fight with partners, so Yoshi is better. Flurrie and Vivian were another hotly contested pair.

SPECIAL MOVES

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The glaring difference here is my opinion of Power Lift. I think Power Lift is great but unnecessary. A lot of the time, you can get an adequate boost in power with, say, Double Dipped Items or even just a single Power Punch. This is especially true for bosses where you’re planning to take damage to achieve Danger/Peril. The DEF boosts can get in the way, and while you can avoid those, it makes your ATK boosts worse since you’re wasting time waiting for the arrows to appear. It does pair well with P-Up, D-Down (and the partner variant), though. That was really the only difference. Supernova taking last might be a bit of a surprise, but Art Attacks just outperforms it at almost every step.
Alright, those are the rankings for TTYD. Let’s dive into 64!

PARTNERS

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The big difference is the 5-7 spots. To be honest, these were big toss-up votes for a lot of people. While Parakarry is solid damage all-around and useful early-game, I rarely use him because Sushie does basically the same things he does but better. Air Lift is nice, but… Water Block is much better, and Lakilester has an AoE version. Goombario is uncontested in single-target damage, but it’s barely needed and requires Ultra Rank. Lakilester has Cloud Nine, a move that’s better than all 3 Lucky Badges combined in terms of evasiveness and he’s got a full-screen clean-up move in Spiny Surge, but I’ll be honest — I don’t use him often.

STAR POWERS

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The big difference is my Refresh > Star Storm and Time Out > Smooch. I think Star Storm is great, but when it comes to dealing damage Mario usually has it covered. Refresh is useful throughout the game and is a key component in more restrictive runs. As for Time Out > Smooch — while Time Out really isn’t that great to begin with, I think the healing provided by Smooch coupled with its cost just isn’t really worth it. More than Up & Away, but I’d rather inflict status. There was quite the debate over some of the middle locations — partly because, well…you don’t really need any besides the first 3; they just out-class the rest super hard. For me, I’d take status > 20 HP heal, especially when that’s readily available with items. Refresh at least is only 1 SP and can be used multiple times with lower HP amounts (which challenge runners tend to have rather than going for 25+).

And that’s it for TTYD/64 Partners and Special Moves/Star Powers! We’re now on 64 Badges, so expect another post in the future once that’s been completed. Do you agree or disagree with these lists? Let me know in the comments below, on Twitter, or on Facebook! And that post I mentioned in my badge tier list is coming! I swear!

Link to Glitz Pit Server: https://discord.gg/0yohFnSHDvBexU7i

Paper Mario Talks — Why Pre-Hooktail Pit is the Perfect Challenge

There are many, many challenges in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door — Level Zero, No Jump No Hammer, Single Partner, BP Only, Double Damage, etc… but one among them all stands the test of time, for me, as the best TTYD challenge out there. That challenge…is Pre-Hooktail Pit.

A Pre-Hooktail Pit run is a run where the player completes the Pit of 100 Trials before completing Chapter 1, which is done by defeating Hooktail. Back in the old challenge running days, this was considered one of the top challenges. Today, I consider it to be one of the “gatekeeper” challenges, a challenge that breaks you into the higher tier of Paper Mario players. Despite my labeling it as a “gatekeeper” challenge, I think it’s the perfect challenge for upcoming challenge runners and veterans alike. Here’s why:

1) It tests everything

Remember my first blog post for Paper Mario Talks? I talked about the 4 skills of a challenge runner. Well, this challenge tests every single one of them and does so in an amazing way. You need to manage peril’d partners, choose the right badges/items for the job, work with on-the-fly RNG, and figure out strategies for all the various enemy loadouts you’ll encounter. Sometimes, you’ll be put in a tight spot and need to superguard and guard well or execute good Power Bounces, Multibonks, and Sweet Treats. Seriously, no other challenge tests everything at the same time so much.

What separates this from a challenge like Level Zero is it also tests your endurance. In full-game runs, you have the luxury of saving and quitting, only doing bite-sized chunks of the challenge. Pre-Hooktail Pit (and other Pit of 100 Trials challenges in general) provide no such luxury. You have to go through the whole thing, including Bonetail, before it is truly complete. And while I don’t consider endurance a particular skill of a Paper Mario challenge runner, it certainly is a skill that any player can benefit from. If you get too tired, you can start committing silly mistakes that can cost you a run.

2) It’s modular

Pre-Hooktail Pit is only the base form of its type of challenge. One can also choose to up the difficulty by including extra restrictions such as 10 HP (Mario cannot increase his HP above 10 in any way) or No Mega Rush P (cannot equip the badge Mega Rush P). You can also combine the two to create a devilishly difficult 10 HP No Mega Rush P restriction. All three of these add to the difficulty, but don’t take away too much from what it’s testing of the player. They all require a little more superguarding, but other than that they function mostly the same, and so provide a good stepping stone of challenges to attempt as you improve as a player. This is what allows newer challenge runners and veterans to continue performing this challenge.

What’s more, speedrunning the base form of the challenge is somewhat popular, and tests the player in a completely different way since you don’t have time to loaf around and prepare – you need to think on your metaphorical feet much faster than someone going through a normal Pre-Hooktail Pit run, who has all the time in the world to figure out a solution. While it’s a little too RNG-heavy to be a completely legitimate speedrun, it is a cool and interesting take on the challenge.

Now, other full-game challenges are also modular (it’s a nice thing about TTYD’s challenges – many are modular), but I particularly like the increase in difficulty the different restrictions of Pre-Hooktail Pit provide without sacrificing something. Many of the “step ups”, so to speak, of full game challenges omit or heavily downplay something crucial in terms of skills being used.

3) There are multiple ways to complete it

While most players follow a general rough guideline on stats, badges, and items to bring, the challenge itself can be completed in a myriad of ways. Some players will choose Heart Finder or Item Hog, Quick Change or Power Plus, Pretty Lucky or Close Call, etc… some decide to upgrade Goombella, others decide to upgrade Koops (or both!). Some will bring Life Shrooms, others will bring Courage Shells, Fire Flowers, POW Blocks, Mushrooms… in short, there’s a lot of variety depending on the player’s preference, and it changes how the run is tackled. While some strategies are definitely better than others, there are enough viable strategies to keep the run fresh and exciting for new players looking to enter challenge running and for veterans to try new things when doing the run.

Again, lots of full game runs offer this same level of variety, but I think an important distinction to make here is that many strategies will be developed on-the-fly that will vary. While you have time to prepare in a Pre-Hooktail Pit run, you have to work around your preparations in case something goes wrong. When you’re really only fighting bosses, you can prepare very well and not have to worry about something going wrong impacting your strategy too much.

And, well…that’s really all I have to say on the subject. I do want to say that most challenges, full game and Pre-Hooktail Pit, are very good, barring a select few I don’t think test all the skills I’d want it to. but if you ever want to get into the next tier of Paper Mario players, Pre-Hooktail Pit is a perfect place to start. There is no better challenge run. Give it a try!

Just Sayin’

Paper Mario Talks — How To Break Combat (64): Status

In Paper Mario, there are six kinds of status that the player can inflict on an enemy (Dizzy, Stop, Paralyze, Sleep, Shrink, Attack Down). Let’s take a look at them and how to inflict them!

Attack Down – Reduces an enemy’s attack by 3 for 4 turns. [Chill Out]
Dizzy – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Dizzy Dial, Dizzy Shell, Dizzy Stomp]
Paralyze – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Power Shock, Mega Shock]
Shrink – Opponent’s damage is halved for x turns. [Shrink Stomp]
Sleep – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Sleepy Sheep, Sleep Stomp, Lullaby]
Stop – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Stop Watch, Time Out]

For your information, the range of status where it lasts for x turns can vary from 1 – 4 turns.

Of these six, four of them do the exact same thing – hinder an enemy from moving. Without any differences (attacking a sleeping opponent does not wake them up, for instance), these statuses all cripple opponents in the same way, making combat in 64 very simple – find an enemy’s weakness to an immobilizing status and exploit it.

While I enjoy using status, and I consider knowing when and where to utilize status as a key element in strategy in Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the monotony of what status do in 64 makes combat really easy. Furthermore, because so many status do the same thing, you can effectively lock an enemy into status and prevent them from ever attacking if they’re weak to two different kinds or very weak to one. Compare this to TTYD, where Dizzy no longer immobilizes enemies, Paralyze doesn’t exist, and enemies can wake from Sleep after being attacked; there’s much more variety, and you can’t really prevent enemies from attacking.

Now, while status is pretty broken in 64, the ability to inflict the same condition with so many different status does have its few benefits, but that mostly applies to challenge running. If you’re trying to inflict status to start setting up with, say, Super Jump Charge, you can cycle between an item/badge and Dizzy Shell or Power Shock to try and get a status inflicted sooner. It’s a cool concept, but that’s really all I find cool about the monotony of status in 64. This specific brand of status monotony is also why really hardcore challenges can be beaten in 64.

Let’s take a small turn and focus on the other two status, Shrink and Attack Down, which both reduce damage Mario takes. As you saw in my previous post, Chill Out’s Attack Down status is ridiculous. For 4 turns, an enemy has -3 ATK. That’s a big deal for the Tank Mario build and for just longevity in general. It cripples enemies in a different way. Sure, they can attack, but doing no damage is the same as not attacking at all (except for the ones that inflict status on Mario, but let’s not talk about those…). To supplement Tank Mario even more is Shrink, which halves an enemy’s damage. Halves. That’s Last Stand without having Last Stand active! With Last Stand and Shrink active, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that can damage Mario besides Final Bowser.

Speaking of… I find Bowser really interesting. Up until Bowser, every enemy in the game is stuck with their fate when inflicted with status. Bowser can remove status from himself (including Attack Down!!) with the Star Rod buff, and is the only enemy capable of removing status on Mario and his Partners. The entire game, you’re used to being able to do pretty much whatever you want, and then Bowser turns that on its head. It’s probably why I find him such a fun and interesting boss, and also why he really ramps up the difficulty curve when it comes to challenge running. But, we can talk about Bowser another time.

Anyway, the bottom line is…status is broken in 64. Even superbosses in Paper Mario: Pro Mode can’t prevent you from status-locking them. And while it’s cool to do that and be rewarded for using different status, I wish there had been more variety because just selecting a different item to do the same thing to an enemy can get a little stale.

Just Sayin’

Paper Mario Talks — Skills of a Paper Mario Challenge Runner

Coffee…Check.
Fingers and hand stretched…Check.
Paper Mario information…Check.

I think I’m ready.

Welcome to Paper Mario Talks! In this new series, I’ll be exploring various areas of the Paper Mario series as it relates to gameplay, game design, and challenge running! I have a lot of opinions on this series that I haven’t really expressed to, well…anyone! So, what better way to talk about the series I love the most than through blog posts and videos!

Oh, yeah, there’ll be videos, too! They’ll be available on my YouTube channel. Here’s how it’s going to break down: these posts will be more in-depth into various topics of the series that I want to write about, and the videos will be more focused on my favorite/least favorite badges/partners/etc…

Paper Mario Talks will be more focused on Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door; the reason will be a topic all of its own!

To begin this series, I want to bring to light what challenge running is so that you know what angles I’m coming from. Unlike speedrunning, where the goal is to beat the game as fast as possible, challenge running aims to beat the game under certain conditions or with restrictions. This is to force a new style of gameplay or make the game harder. RPG’s are usually pretty great for these, as you can easily restrict certain items/attacks/level ups and change the way the game is played.

There’s a wiki detailing a lot of different challenges in the Paper Mario series to get you more familiarized with what I’m talking about. Check it out if you’re interested!

Anyway, today’s topic is about the core skills of a challenge runner in the Paper Mario series. There are four distinct skills I believe most great Paper Mario players are proficient in – execution, planning, game knowledge, and reactionary theory. Let’s define those:

Game Knowledge: How well you know enemies, their health, their stats, Mario’s abilities, partners’ abilities, boss AI, etc… This is an ever-growing skill until you’ve memorized everything. If you don’t know enough about the game, you can’t really improve the rest of your skills. However, it’s easy to improve this one – ask someone or look it up online. Besides Color Splash, the series is pretty old and has a lot of FAQs/guides dedicated to the other games in the series.

Planning: How well you can plan out a strategy for a given fight. If you know enough about a certain boss, you can plan turn-by-turn strategies around them. You can account for RNG and have a plan of attack no matter what the boss does. You can be adequately prepared for any kind of encounter. Theoretically, you can win fights before you even get to them! Everyone can plan to an extent, but truly remarkable players can optimize their strategies further.

Execution: This is Planning’s cousin. You can win fights before you even play them, but can you execute on your strategies and actually win the fight? Can you guard or superguard every attack you’re planning to? Can you hit all the necessary Action Commands? Planning & Execution go hand-in-hand with each other.

Reactionary Theory: Probably the trickiest of the skills challenge runners need. If your plan goes awry, how can you get back on track? Can you save the fight? If you encounter a certain enemy loadout that you weren’t expecting, can you formulate a plan for success? This kind of on-the-fly thinking is crucial to certain challenges and is great for when you messed up an Action Command or RNG truly shot down your strategy. This is the hardest skill to become proficient in.

These four together form the core of a great Paper Mario challenge runner. How I define these skills helps shape how I view challenge running – and by extension certain facets of the series – so I hope this helps shed some light on how I’ll be approaching the rest of the topics in Paper Mario Talks.

Just Sayin’

Salt (and why it can be good for you)

Salty (Adjective) – To be (usually to a somewhat high degree) angry when losing. Generally used in competitive gaming.

I get angry when I lose in competitions.

Like, really angry.

I just want to punch whomever beat me in the face for outplaying me and taking advantage of things I did wrong. Why couldn’t I have done that instead? I should be the one advancing to the next round, I know I’m better than this. I want to rematch them right then and there to prove it. I want to beat whomever just beat me so badly.

And yet, here I am, writing about how it feels like my opponent chained me to a 300lb weight when I lose, and I’m unable to lift it. It’s incredibly frustrating.

How do people take losses so cleanly? I really don’t understand it. I can’t smile after I lose.

I’ve literally spent hours of my time looking up how to take losses better. I thought it was a problem that I couldn’t take my losses cleanly – that I wasn’t learning from them like the best players do.

Then it hit me earlier today while thinking of something to write about for today’s blog post; being angry about a loss is fine. I can be angry that I lost a match, as long as that anger can force me to look at the match and learn from it in a healthy way. Basically, channeling your anger into something useful so you don’t just sit there yelling at yourself on the inside.

Being angry can actually be an incredible motivator for improvement, but there’s a lot of stigma to being angry which prevents it from being used. “Going on Tilt” is to get angry and start playing at a sub par level, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re just getting angry and that’s it, of course you’re going to start playing worse. I think the problem is that people have a really negative impression about anger in competition, when I think it might be a great way to psyche yourself up and continue to play at your best. When I lose a stock in Super Smash Bros., I get angry. Did I really just let myself lose a stock? It’s not happening again. I’ll nod that my opponent made a good play, even tell him it was a good play, but I’m still angry that I’m one step closer to losing. That doesn’t make me play worse – I play better, harder. I don’t want to lose, because I loathe losing.

I think the reason people go “on Tilt” when they’re angry is because they realize they’re angry and don’t want to be, which affects them more than they may realize. I say be furious, but be in control of what you’re doing and feeling (mainly because if I were actually furious all the time I’d probably have a heart attack or something). Don’t just be angry – channel that emotion to have a purpose. You don’t want to just sit there and be angry and then play your next match. While it seems weird, it’s entirely possible to feel angry and motivated at the same time, and that’s the good kind of anger.

You can say good games at the end, admit your opponent played better than you, and be a good sport. But that doesn’t mean you’re not seething inside and are itching to beat them next time so you can pop off and say you’ve gotten better.

Just Sayin’