A Paper Mario Challenge Runner’s review of Bug Fables’ combat

SPOILER WARNING: This review contains spoilers! Don’t read further if you haven’t played the game! I just had a great idea: go play it right now, then come back and read this! Seriously, go play it.

As one of the best in the Paper Mario challenge running business, I’d had my eye on Bug Fables for a while. Once people from my community really started getting into it and recommending I stream it, I decided to take the plunge and wound up playing a very impressive spiritual successor to the first two entries in the Paper Mario series. I liked the story and the characters; honestly, I thought they were better then any Paper Mario game. The music is good, the art is fine, the side quests are great — bottom line: If you’re a fan of Paper Mario, you’re doing yourself a disservice NOT playing this game.

But that’s not what this review is about. This is a review of the game’s combat in regards to challenge running potential and high-level game play. I highly suggest you go play the game first before you read this (or at least have some idea of the medals) because some of these strategies will likely spoil you.

As a disclaimer: when I first started the game, my entire chat told me “Hey, equip the Hard Mode medal, it’s the way the developers intended you to play the game”. If that’s how they wanted it to be played, then I had no choice to oblige. This review is about combat with that medal equipped at all times.

Let’s go over the combat basics. Like Paper Mario and TTYD, you’ve got HP, TP for special attacks (FP), and MP for medals (BP). You fight with Kabbu (a beetle), Vi (a bee), and Leif (a moth). Each one has their own unique basic attacks (Kabbu pierces DEF, Vi can hit flying enemies, and Leif can hit underground enemies) and special skills that use TP and you can equip medals that affect either the entire party of just one character. You can swap the positions of characters at any time (even when a character is knocked out!) as long as all active members haven’t used their turn. However, you only have three set formations: [Vi/Leif/Kabbu], [Kabbu/Vi/Leif], and [Leif/Kabbu/Vi]. Why is this important? Because the character in front gets a natural +1 to their attack power and is targeted more often. 

There are lots of cool medals (badges) you can use!

You can also relay your turn so another character can attack twice, but at a cost of -1 attack power per extra attack a character does. This is an amazing new feature. Got 3 flying enemies? Relay with Kabbu and Leif to Vi and take them all down in one turn. Have a character use a skill, then relay to them to use it again…or use a different skill. It’s pretty sweet.

Relaying a turn to another party member is an essential tool in your arsenal of abilities

Okay, that’s it for the basics. In short… the combat is great. I love the turn relay system combined with the already solid Paper Mario foundation; it all gels together really well with how you approach normal fights and bosses. Being able to relay turns when needed to better utilize a character’s strengths and position them accordingly to better use your medals was very satisfying. I loved being able to figure out strategies and bosses completely blind with only my previous experience to guide me. That was very fun, and I think anyone will feel rewarded once they figure out some dope strategies.
 
Balance wasn’t really a problem as far as normal fights are concerned. I always felt like if something wasn’t working, I could find a way to make it better or had other options to choose from. The bosses and superbosses all had cool moves and one or two unique things about them for the most part. But that’s where the cool stuff ends and my issues with boss AI begin. Maybe this is a “Hard Mode” thing, but a lot of bosses had this pattern: Do things -> start buffing/attacking twice forever/summon minions after x HP is lost. Maybe sometimes they’d use a new move in conjunction with the above, but for the most part many bosses just started attacking more and buffing themselves. Now, of course, not all bosses were like this, but I would say it was enough to be over saturated.

What this lends itself to is the same strategies working all of the time. Tank Do Nothing Kabbu combined with Danger/Poison Vi is ridiculously strong and can wipe almost any boss pretty quickly if you’ve got enough TP-restoring items or both TP Cores equipped. Near the end of my playthrough, I found myself using those strategies to basically obliterate bosses. I was in real danger of a game over maybe a couple times near the end, but honestly, it didn’t feel like it. I felt like I had a pretty easy time because nothing could really stop the aforementioned strategy. This is a pretty big contrast to early and mid game, where bosses felt much more dangerous and I definitely felt in danger of a game over most of the time.

The second issue I had with bosses is that their AI is completely random (for the most part). Now, obviously, bosses have some triggers that are static and you know will come. The problem is that everything else is random, so while you can cook up cool strategies, you can’t fine-tune them like you can in Paper Mario and TTYD. This dampened the experience for me because there are only a few ways to get to an optimal state. I’m totally fine with random boss AI in most other games, but in a game where damage can be so finely tuned, I think having truly random boss AI like this actually takes away from it instead.
  
In Bug Fables, getting into Danger or being Poisoned is where it’s at for damage and defense for your primary attacker. There are a few items that will put you down at 1 HP, but other than that and Weak Stomach, you have to basically wait until a boss deals enough damage (and if you aren’t Kabbu using Taunt, you need to be targeted in the first place). This is how late-game boss battles looked like for me:

1) Attack until bosses put Vi into Danger -> Spam Tornado Toss (you could sub another move here — didn’t really matter)
2) If Vi dies, use Pep Up; otherwise, Do Nothing on Kabbu to restore HP/keep DEF up
3) If Leif is alive, buff Vi or rally to Vi always. Rarely, use Cleanse on beefed up boss

Exhibit A of the aforementioned strategy

This cycle basically destroyed every boss in EX Boss Rush mode without me healing between rounds or using items. I put Miracle Matter on Leif just to make bosses go faster by letting Vi attack more. I would always keep Vi in front because I didn’t care if she died. She took 1-3 damage most of the time thanks to Last Stand x2 and I’d deal 30-50 in one turn if I also gave Kabbu’s turn to Vi. You could supplement other things around this, but the core is the same.

There are definitely other cool strategies I haven’t explored that utilize Sleep or something or using Berserk or what-have-you (I used a really dope Taunt Kabbu HP Regen setup on the Mini-Boss Rush and it was pretty effective and fun), but the core of my problem is… there’s not a lot of cool ways to get to the state you want to be at to activate Medals you have. You’re either using Big Mistake/something to active Weak Stomach or the status you want to inflict on yourself, or you’re waiting for bosses to just deal enough damage to put you in that range. If they die, just use Kabbu’s Pep Up which puts them in perfect Danger (and waiting for a character to die just so Kabbu can do that is RNG and…yeah). It’s very samey, and because bosses are basically random you can’t manipulate cool positioning or damage you deal to direct them as the battle goes on and you’re just waiting sometimes for things to start happening while not even feeling threatened. The only way to really do that is through Kabbu’s Taunt, but sometimes they could roll to use AoE moves and ruin that anyway. You could be waiting 2-4 extra turns just to get your strategy rolling unless you use one of the few ways to force it to start.

This is a stark contrast to TTYD, where you can do some pretty wild stuff to get into Danger/Peril while also taking/dealing the exact damage you need to and using the exact amount of FP you have to emerge victorious. Point Swap + Double Dip, using a move + Point Swap, KO’ing a partner with Point Swap to force attacks onto Mario, Trial Stew, Poison Shroom, manipulating specific phases that give you extra turns to setup, taking damage on purpose while Charging, using clever DEF to go from full HP -> Danger -> Peril… there are a LOT of ways to craft a cool or interesting strategy or one that just gets into Peril, and that to me is more interesting than what I did for most of Bug Fables’ end game.

With all of this said, I still found the entire end game experience very fun, but most of the cool stuff that bosses have gets shut down by the same things by then and it’s just a waiting game to get there instead of a cool mapped out strategy you can implement with 100% or near-100% certainty, which was a little disappointing. To add onto this, most of the secret codes to impose extra challenges are only slightly different and probably don’t change this cycle (except maybe for MYSTERY which randomizes all Medals). 

So what does that mean for challenge running this game? In my opinion, I think the game still has a lot of challenge running potential. The secret codes on their own aside as challenges, you can use them to do some other cool things like Level Zero, maybe a “Character Alone” run? You can try and use no Danger/Poison or ban Miracle Matter. You could “lock” your formation and see how to play around that. Some won’t change too much, but the fact I can name all of these right now and feel like I’m only scratching the surface means there’s a lot of potential for this game and that’s really exciting! There are quite a few people in my community and I’m sure the Bug Fables’ community that have been challenge running this game for a while, so there’s definitely interest and the game having built-in modifiers only helps. I’ll definitely be doing quite a bit of challenge running for this game myself because combat is super fun to play despite the few issues I had with it during my first play through. Who knows… maybe my opinion will change once I really sink my teeth into some challenge runs!

Just Sayin’

Kappy’s Paper Mario Challenge Running Tier List v7.0 (October 2019)

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. LOL.

Let’s jump in!

  • + symbol means edge case for next tier up
  • This is my personal opinion; I repeat: this list is NOT objective.

GOD TIER

— The best of the best. The cream of the crop.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
  • Kappy
  • Koop

TTYD

None.

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
  • Fatguy703+ – Fatguy has almost completed his run of Master Quest. So far, he’s been doing well and has a few creative strategies. There’s not enough for me to put him in God Tier, but we’ll see how the rest of his run plays out.
  • GamerFourFun — Gamer has done a slew of things in Master Quest, a super-tough mod for Paper Mario 64. I was thinking of giving him a + because what he’s done is quite impressive, but I don’t think challenges completed in the mod are enough weight compared to vanilla challenges. He’s easily cemented his spot here with those completions, but the mods tailor a certain play style over others and are not always indicative of player skill over figuring out the designer’s intended puzzle. He also has a “battle first, strategize later” still, which just doesn’t cut it for even an edge-case for God tier in my eyes.

TTYD
  • Dyla — Dyla is back with a nice 10 HP Prologue Pit completion (without Super Jump) not too long ago moving him up to Elite. He’s now doing Impossible Mode and (I hope) more challenges after that. Now, he could very quickly fall back to Great+; we’ll see how he performs in the future.
  • Miccat87 — Miccat recently completed 10 HP Prologue Pit, which is awesome. Only a small portion has been uploaded, so I can’t hand him a definite + just yet, but I do think he could be another contender for God-level in TTYD. Time will tell.

64
None.

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

None.

TTYD

None.

64
  • Auron Nomcario — Auron recently completed a 10 HP Mario Alone run, officially putting him back into being active for Paper Mario 64! I hope he plays a little more. I could see him going above Elite if he stays active.
  • Miccat87
  • TwoPieRadian — TwoPieRadian is back into challenge running! He recently completed a cool “crit” mod of 64 where enemies could randomly critical and deal more damage. Not enough to jump him anywhere, but I’m glad he’s back! Hopefully, we’ll see more of him.

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

None.

TTYD
  • Auron Nomcario+
  • DiamondCrafterA — DiamondCrafter is back to try and finish his Impossible Mode run! I think if he finishes it soon I can easily put a + next to his name.
  • Mr_Some1 — Mr_Some1 has come back into the realm of activity with a FP Only run. I hope that he finishes this and continues to do a couple more runs.
  • TwoPieRadian — Pie is also back with TTYD! He’s been doing BP Only right now, which is a pretty standard run for someone at this level. We’ll see how it goes from there.

64
  • Mailguy — Mailguy has come back to activity with a Hammerman run! We’ll see where he stands once the run is finished and if he decides to do more.

INACTIVE TIER

— Inactive Players. Players have their last tier listed for reference.
(sorted alphabetically)
  • A. A. Ran — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Good Tier+ (64)
  • amazydayzee — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • avengah — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Blanket P.I. — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • catbooger — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Codebox — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • DarkMario1000 — Great Tier+ (TTYD) | Elite Tier (64)
  • Dount Cooku — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Feposo — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gibstack — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Gradis — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Grassdigger — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • ilikepieinmouth — Elite Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Jayjar100 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • JakeTheSnake — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jdaster64 — God Tier (COMBINED)
  • Jon — Great Tier (64)
  • Lolyuri — Good Tier (64)
  • Mathcat — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Michael The Fox — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • MilesLuigi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • MellowMathTeacher — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • MorningStar — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • ngburns — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Olmi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • OmegaRaptor — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Prentiscool — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • simodomino — Good Tier (COMBINED)
  • Skawo — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • Slime — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Starlad — Good Tier (64)
  • StarmanOmega — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • stebbdogg — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Stylish — Good Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Wayoshi — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
  • ThatOneSpyGuy — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Timmy — Great Tier (64)
  • TRex Quisite — Great Tier (COMBINED)
NOTABLE CHANGES & THOUGHTS
  • We’ve seen a slight surge in returning players, which is awesome 🙂 I hope this trend continues.
  • Paper Mario Master Quest dropped, which is an ultra-hard mod of Paper Mario 64 that is designed to challenge God/Elite Tier level players. Honestly, it’s difficult, but due to how most of it is designed, I will not be adding any new players who have completed this mod. If they’re good enough and want to be on this list, they can prove themselves through challenge runs in vanilla.

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 or you think someone else should be added, please let me know via Twitter or Discord DM so I can update this and future tier lists)! A great resource for challenge runners is the Glitz Pit, a Discord server dedicated to challenge running the Paper Mario series. You can also check out my Discord server.

Just Sayin’

September 2018
December 2018
March 2019
July 2019

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’

 

Kappy’s Paper Mario Challenge Running Tier List v6.0 (July 2019)

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. LOL. This should’ve come out in June, but I was quite busy that month so it was pushed back to July.

Let’s jump in!

  • + symbol means edge case for next tier up
  • This is my personal opinion; I repeat: this list is NOT objective.

GOD TIER

— The best of the best. The cream of the crop.
(sorted alphabetically)
COMBINED
TTYD
None.
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
  • Fatguy703+ — Listen here, all ye. Fatguy has beaten my nearly 2-year-long record of reset count in Impossible Mode. While his consistency when it comes to the Pit isn’t the best, it’s good, and his superguarding and strategy are great when he’s focused. He’s actually always been great despite all the memes and I think with this he is on the cusp of being a God. How he does in Master Quest, I think, will determine if his foot’s in the door or to the exit; I’ll be watching closely.
  • GamerFourFun
TTYD
  • Gibstack
  • ilikepieinmouth+ — While Pie is still undoubtedly the best superguarder, I just can’t keep him up as a God on superguarding alone. The superguard-heavy challenges he’s completed are nothing short of impressive, but I look for more than just superguarding in amazing players. He’ll likely stay here for eternity until I see more strategy that’s not about reducing superguards.
  • Miccat87
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
None.
TTYD
  • DarkMario1000+ — DarkMario, at this point, is on the level of Elite+ when it comes to strategy. There’s really no way around it — the guy knows his stuff. Still, I’d like to see more footage. Seeing him do a run would really help cement him in Elite. As it stands, I just can’t bring myself to move him up without more concrete gameplay.
  • Gible_V — Coming back from inactivity, Gible has finally completed Impossible Mode. Along with the other Pit challenges she’s completed, I think she’s earned her spot here. We’ll see if she goes any further.
  • Grassdigger+ — Grassdigger’s in the same boat as DarkMario — his breakout performance during the puzzle challenges was quite impressive, despite him taking a small back seat later on. I think he might’ve won otherwise. If he ever decides to start posting more videos, I’m sure he’ll be Elite.
  • Kyle
  • MorningStar+ — Just saw this guy recently, and I like what I see. He recently finished Level Zero Double Damage (including a perfect Gloomtail fight!) and literally finished the Pit with no Strange Sack as I’m posting this to my blog. If he continues, he can only go up.
64
  • Jon
  • Miccat87

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
  • Auron Nomcario+ —  I’d say that Auron’s done enough with puzzles alone to earn him a +. Not enough to jump to Great tier, but he’s really close!
  • Slime
  • Stylish+
64
None.

INACTIVE TIER

— Inactive Players. Players have their last tier listed for reference.
(sorted alphabetically)
  • A. A. Ran — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Good Tier+ (64)
  • amazydayzee — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Auron Nomcario — Great Tier (64)
  • 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)
  • Dyla — Great Tier+ (TTYD)
  • Feposo — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Gradis — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jayjar100 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • JakeTheSnake — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Jdaster64 — God Tier (COMBINED)
  • Lolyuri — Good Tier (64)
  • Mailguy — Good Tier (64)
  • Mathcat — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Michael The Fox — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • MilesLuigi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • MellowMathTeacher — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • Mr_Some1 — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • ngburns — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Olmi — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • OmegaRaptor — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Prentiscool — Good Tier (TTYD)
  • Skawo — Elite Tier (COMBINED)
  • Starlad — Good Tier (64)
  • StarmanOmega — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • stebbdogg — Great Tier (TTYD)
  • Wayoshi — Elite Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
  • ThatOneSpyGuy — Elite Tier (TTYD)
  • Timmy — Great Tier (64)
  • TRex Quisite — Great Tier (COMBINED)
  • TwoPieRadian — Good Tier (TTYD) | Great Tier (64)
NOTABLE CHANGES & THOUGHTS
  • ilikepieinmouth has moved down from God Tier to Elite Tier because he continues to only do superguard-heavy runs when he does play. There’s no question of his superguarding superiority, but…there’s more to playing this game than superguarding. Good strategy cannot be overlooked.
  • Jdaster64, despite participation in the most recent puzzle challenges, has moved to Inactive. I thought about keeping him up because of the puzzle challenges, but he stopped pretty early in the game and he hasn’t done anything with Paper Mario in 3+ months, so Inactive seemed to be the best fit for now.
  • As I predicted, there are a lot of inactive players. C’mon, guys, let’s do some runs! I want to see more new faces!

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 or you think someone else should be added, please let me know so I can update this and future tier lists)! A great resource for challenge runners is the Glitz Pit, a Discord server dedicated to challenge running the Paper Mario series. You can also check out my Discord server.

Just Sayin’

September 2018
December 2018
March 2019
October 2019

Kappy’s Spotlight — Return Postage

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 another badge in TTYD that is a pitiful return on BP investment — RETURN POSTAGE!
 
Returnpostage
BP Cost: 7
Move: Returns half the damage Mario receives back to direct attackers.
Glitz Pit Rank: FF
 
OOF! FF tier, the lowest you can get for the Glitz Pit. But really, it’s not hard to see why. For 7 BP, Mario gets a permanent Spite status (basically, attackers take half damage dealt to Mario on direct attacks). Notice how I said “direct attacks”. This status, honestly, is bad, and that makes Return Postage even worse. It can be used against normal enemies to some effect since most have direct attacks, but since Return Postage is the reward you get for completing the Pit of 100 Trials, the only true way to utilize it very effectively is to complete it pre-Chapter 3 and try and utilize it as you go through the game. Now, for challenge runners completing the Pit pre-Chapter 3 is pretty easy, but it’s still not worth it as the reward for completing the Pit when enemies deal pretty mediocre damage until Chapter 6, so you’re at best dealing 2-4 damage back to enemies and bosses…if it even activates. I said that Spite is bad, and that’s because it only affects direct attacks. Any projectile or magic attack is automatically unaffected, but check out what else isn’t affected:
 
  • Cortez’s Bite
  • Smorg’s Miasmas (tentacle and claw)
  • Dragon (Hooktail/Gloomtail) Stomp and Bite
  • Magnus Von Grapple 2.0 Drill
  • Doopliss’ Mario Hammer attack
…and more! As you can see, most late-game bosses just don’t care about the Spite Status, even if their moves technically make contact. Still, this badge can be put to use against bosses that do inflict direct damage; let’s get to the strat!
 
BOWSER & KAMMY STRAT
 
15 HP, 5 FP
BADGES: P-Up D-Down, Mega Rush, Power Rush, Mega Rush P, Power Rush P x2, P-Up D-Down P, Double Dip, Flower Saver P x2, Power Bounce, Jumpman, Return Postage, Double Pain, Quick Change (39 BP, 42 w/HP Plus) **If using 2 Power Plus P instead of a 2nd Power Rush P, it’s 50 BP, 53 w/HP Plus
ITEMS: Point Swap, Power Punch
 

Click here to see the strategy in action!

T1: Double Dip (Point Swap Goombella, Power Punch), Veil
T2: Can’t move due to Veil *Guard Bite, Superguard Kammy attack if it targets Mario
T3: Power Bounce Kammy (5 bounces) [KO], Multibonk Bowser (6 bonks)[KO]
 
This strategy is pretty wild, so let’s dive in. First off, check out all that BP. We could get away with less BP if we had more Mario HP, but the big problem there is that the more turns we let the fight go on, the more chances Kammy has to ruin our strategy with her magic. So, we need to finish this by Turn 2 or 3. I wanted to really make use of Return Postage, so I decided on a Turn 3 finish because of Bowser’s AI. More on that later. Bowser has 70 HP, 7 ATK, and 2 DEF. He’s a tough one. Kammy’s got 50 HP, 5 ATK, and 0 DEF, so basically, a souped-up Magikoopa that has access to basically all of their magic at the same time. Yeah, she’s a real pain.
 
Okay, so the big problem to solve here is dealing significant damage to Bowser because 2 DEF goes a long way in reducing damage. To take out both on Turn 3, we’re gonna need some damage. The classic Double Dipping Point Swap will work well, and let’s abuse Return Postage and Double Pain to get Mario into Peril, so we’ll Point Swap our partner. We could use Yoshi, but he needs more ATK to achieve the same damage Goombella can and there’s no way Stampede is taking out both of them unless we invest into way more BP, so let’s use Goombella. Because we’re Point Swapping Goombella, let’s have her take on Bowser since we can include a Power Punch in that Double Dip for a free +2 to ATK. With the above badges, Goombella’s base is 3 – the 2 DEF = 1 + 9 from Mega Rush & two Power Rushes, 1 from P-Up D-Down P, and the +2 from Power Punch gives a whopping 13 ATK. Nice. Mario’s got it a little easier since he’s dealing with Kammy. He’s at 3 + 2 from Jumpman and P-Up D-Down, and 7 from Mega Rush + Power Rush. That gives him 12 ATK total. Alright, we’ve got the damage we need to take on both. let’s get into the fight!
 
NOTE: We’re assuming you’ve just leveled up off of Grodus, which is why we’re starting with max HP & FP.
 
Turn 1 is setup. To understand why I’m using Veil, let’s look at Bowser’s AI. Bowser has 3 attacks: Fire Breath, Bite, and Stomp. He will use those three attacks in order as long as he suffers no recoil damage. Fire Breath is a ranged move, making it impossible for him to take recoil, and he always uses it Turn 1. Turn 2 he’ll be using Bite, which is a move that, luckily, is affected by Return Postage! So, Turn 1 we prep Goombella with Double Dip, and swap her out for Vivian and use Veil. We’re now at 4 FP because Veil is 1 FP.

Turn 2, we come out of Veil. The way Veil works is that Mario loses his next turn. So, if you use Veil Turn 1 without moving Mario, Mario can move Turn 2, but Vivian cannot. If Mario moves Turn 1 and then Vivian uses Veil, Mario & Vivian can’t move Turn 2. Because of this, there’s literally nothing we can do Turn 2 except take Bowser & Kammy’s attacks. Now, I want to be clear on something — this strategy can be foiled if Kammy…

  • Makes herself or Bowser invisible
  • Electrifies Bowser or herself
  • Buffs her or Bowser’s DEF
She does have a chance of using any of those things on Turn 2. She can also buff her or Bowser’s ATK, but because Bowser goes first, this is of no concern to us. If she does use any of what is listed above, you’ll simply need to reset. Given how many strategies I’ve created thus far that crush Grodus into the ground, it shouldn’t be hard getting back to this point. In fact, this badge setup deals with Grodus quite well — it’d be an easy 1-2 Turn fight as long as you bring an extra Point Swap and a Fire Flower to that fight. Anyway, enough about Grodus, let’s get back to this fight; Bowser will always Bite Turn 2 due to how his AI works. So, he’ll Bite Mario and we guard it since we’re taking 8 damage right now with P-Up D-Down equipped. Guarding brings it down to 7, which is doubled to 14, bringing Mario down to Peril. Bowser takes 7 damage from Return Postage because Return Postage comes after Double Pain is applied to the damage. It’s a nice perk of the badge. Now, Kammy either buffs ATK or attacks. If she attacks Vivian, it’s whatever, but if she attacks Mario, we need to superguard. I always love having some superguarding in strategies, so this is welcome.
 
Turn 3, we go in for the kill. Mario Power Bounces Kammy for an exact 50 damage with 5 bounces (12 + 11 + 10 + 9 + 8). We’re now at 1 FP because Power Bounce is 3 FP and we’ve had 4 since Turn 1’s Veil. We swap to Goombella, and Multibonk 6 times. Bowser has 70 HP, but after Return Postage he’s at 63, and Multibonk right now does a perfect 63 damage (13 + 12 + 11 + 10 + 9 + 8). With two Flower Saver P badges, Multibonk is 1 FP. Both are KO’d Turn 3. Perfect damage, perfect FP use, and with Return Postage! Does it get any better than this? Yes, but is it flashier? Absolutely not!
 
I want to point out that a different strategy with Mario locking Bowser into Bite with Return Postage (because he’ll always take recoil, and thus never move onto Stomp) is also a really cool way to utilize Return Postage, but you could also just use Zap Tap. At the end of the day, Return Postage is just a terrible badge when it comes to normal combat, but it’s really, really fun to use, and that’s something I actually really appreciate about the badge. If you’d like to see more Return Postage use, check out my Return to Sender run on YouTube, where I played through the game casually with Return Postage after beating 10 HP No Mega Rush P Pre-Hooktail Pit. It’s a good time.
 
I’ll be taking suggestions again for the next one, so be on the lookout for that Tweet/Post!
 
Just Sayin’

Kappy’s Spotlight — HP Drain

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 another badge in TTYD that definitely drains you just for thinking of using it — HP DRAIN!

 

HP_Drain_TTYD
BP Cost: 1
Move: Decreases Mario’s ATK by 1 in exchange for recovering 1 HP after attacking.

Glitz Pit Rank: E-

Yikes, E-. But, after viewing the comparatively broken HP Drain in 64 (where you restore HP for every attack up to 5 max) and coupled with Last Stand being slightly worse than its 64 counterpart, it’s easy to see why HP Drain is ranked so low. It’s really hard to fit onto a strategy. Most of the time, you could just recover more HP, or use a Dried Shroom/Mistake with Double/Triple Dip for more versatility. And when it comes to looping through Peril/Danger with HP, it’s hard to justify it when you can KO most bosses in 2-3 turns anyway, and those 1 or 2 turns are generally spent setting up and not in Peril. The dip in ATK is also really hard to deal with for such a small reward. Once you get to larger HP values, it becomes even worse since you have larger healing in the form of Sweet Treat/Feast & items. Really, this badge doesn’t do a whole lot for Mario. With that said, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and we can definitely still implement a cool Peril loop with the right support. Let’s see what we can do against one of the toughest bosses in the game!

BONETAIL STRAT

10 HP, 5 FP
BADGES: Last Stand x2, Mega Rush, Power Rush, HP Drain, P-Down D-Up, Defend Plus, All or Nothing, Power Plus x3, Flower Saver, Power Bounce, Quick Change (47 BP)
ITEMS: Horsetail, Dried Shroom, Mistake x5, Courage Meal

*Only Guard Breath

Click here to see the strategy in action!

T1: Hammer, Bomb (190)
T2: Horsetail Mario, Courage Meal (186)
T3: Spin Jump, Mistake Mario (163)
T4: Spin Jump, Mistake Mario (140)
T5: Power Bounce, Mistake Mario (100/120)
T6: Power Bounce, Mistake Mario (60/80/100)
T7: Power Bounce, Mistake Mario (20/40/60)

IF 20 HP 

T8: Jump [KO] 

IF 40 HP 

T8: Power Bounce [KO] 

IF 60 HP 

T8: Power Bounce, Dried Shroom Mario (20)
T9: Jump [KO]And here we are, a nice Peril loop with a ton of support. Check out the crazy item spread that’s being used. Here’s the breakdown: Bonetail has a massive 200 HP, 8 ATK, and 2 DEF. Ouch. We need a lot of ATK to deal good damage, so we get back up to 3 with a Jump and equip an All or Nothing and Power Plus. Now, we’re Peril looping with HP Drain, so let’s see what we can do to achieve that. With two Last Stands, damage is divided by 3 in Danger and it rounds up, not down.

8 divided by 3 rounds up to 3 damage.
7 divided by 3 rounds up to 3 damage.
6 divided by 3 is a flat 2 damage.
5 divided by 3 rounds up to 2 damage.
4 divided by 3 rounds up to 2 damage.
3 divided by 3 is a flat 1 damage.

Looking at those numbers combined with Bonetail being able to use breath, we set a baseline for 6 damage. Unfortunately, without farming P-Down D-Up badges, we can’t reliably get Breath to 1 damage in Danger, so we’ll have to think of something else. So, let’s get to 6 damage. Bonetail has 3 attacks: a Stomp and Bite that don’t pierce and his Breath that pierces. All attacks deal 8, so let’s equip P-Down D-Up to reduce the Breath’s damage to 7. With a Guard, that’s 6, allowing us to take 2 in Danger. Now, the Bite is unguardable, so we equip an extra Defend Plus to make that 6. As shown above, Guarding the Stomp doesn’t matter since it’ll be 2 anyway, but we won’t Guard anything but the Breath since Stomp inflicts no status effects.

Okay, with that out of the way, we need to bring our damage back up to 3. With HP Drain and P-Down D-Up, we’re back at 1 ATK, so we equip two more Power Plus badges. Lots of BP, but it’s necessary to not have this drag on for 10+ turns, although it’s totally possible with 20 items. Okay, we’re at 3 with a Jump, and with a Mega Rush and Power Rush, we’ll be at 10 with a Jump in Peril. That’s 20 damage with a Jump and 40 with a Power Bounce. To loop Peril, we need to get to 3 HP every turn, so our partner will be healing Mario with Mistakes and Dried Shrooms. Nice, love using these items. Okay, we’re set. Let’s get into the fight!

We need to get Mario into Peril first. Right now, Bonetail will deal 6 no matter what, so we Hammer and Bomb for 6 + 4 for 10 damage. Mario’s now at 4 HP. Next turn, we use a Horsetail to heal 3 damage and put Mario at 7, allowing us to get to Peril after Bonetail attacks. We also use a Courage Meal with our partner to deal 4 damage. Turn 3, we Spin Jump to deal 10 + 13 damage. With Flower Saver, Spin Jump is 1 FP, and we’re at 2 HP thanks to HP Drain. We use a Mistake to heal 1 HP and 1 FP, putting Mario at 3 HP and back at 5 FP. We Spin Jump again to deal 23 more damage, which coincidentally is 46 with the previous turns damage, giving us a nice clean 50 damage in 3 turns, and we heal with another Mistake. Bonetail’s now at 140, so we Power Bounce for 2 FP for 40 damage and heal with a Mistake, putting Mario at 4 FP. At 100 HP or less, Bonetail has a chance to heal 20 HP, and he can heal twice for a total of 40 HP healed. This doesn’t really matter besides the very end. We do this two more times, putting Mario at 2 FP. At this point, Bonetail has either not healed, healed once, or healed twice, leaving him with 20 HP, 40 HP, or 60 HP. At 20, we just Jump to end with perfect damage. With 40, we Power Bounce and end the battle with perfect damage and perfect FP use. At 60, we Power Bounce, heal with a Dried Shroom, and Jump for perfect damage and perfect FP use. Not bad, not bad at all! By the way, Quick Change is there for if you need to swap a partner out to take more Breath attacks. Due to RNG, you may not even need it, but it’s there just in case.

I also need to add that this strategy will not just be straight attacks if Bonetail heals. You will need to spend a turn Appealing with Mario & Partner to ensure that you only are attacking when in Peril.

I also need to add that this strategy will not just be straight attacks if Bonetail heals. You will need to spend a turn Appealing with Mario & Partner to ensure that you only are attacking when in Peril.

I won’t show the strategy, but I also highly advise you check out Koop’s Even Turn No Superguards fight against Magnus Von Grapple 2.0 where he utilizes HP Drain. It’s awesome.

HP Drain isn’t great. As you can see, it requires a lot of support to really make it effective. However, I do think this badge is awesome to strategize with and definitely challenges you to get creative. Give it a try if you’re looking for something interesting to use!

 

Just Sayin’