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’

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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

 

 

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Improvement in Smash 4 BONUS IX – The Plateau

**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.

If you’ve read my improvement series, then hopefully you’ve been, well, improving! Unfortunately, you might be hitting something that every level of player hits while improving – The Plateau.

The Plateau is a place where you start winning and losing against the same players. You don’t ever feel anything involving your level of play changing, and more often than not others around you can look like they’re leaping forward and suddenly beating a ton of players, including you. You can’t seem to find any answers to getting better, and it can be an incredibly frustrating experience, especially if it drags on for a long period of time.

Now, I’ve been seeing a lot of players talking about this lately in Chicago’s scene, and that’s good. Unfortunately, most of it (to me) looks like some players getting frustrated and not knowing what to do next. They’re sick of playing all the time and not seeing any visible improvement.

So, it’s time to dive deeper into the art of improvement and talk about ways you can plateau, and how to get back on track!

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So, how does one plateau? There are a lot of ways that one can start to slip, and many of these can be combined. In fact, most of them do. Here are the most common I see and how to deal with them:

You’re not practicing every day

Whether you’ve become busier due to outside factors (work, school, kids, significant other, etc…) or playing is starting to feel like a chore, you’re not practicing every day. Someone will tell you that doing something every day will make you better at it, and Smash is no exception. If you start slipping on practice, you’ll be as good as you are right now with no visible room for improvement.

I’m a perfect example of this. When I went to the first Mashfest, I took out a few notable players and my only losses were to top 10 players since I had started playing. Granted, I’ve only been to 4 or 5 tournaments, but the top players have generally remained the same. Fast forward to now, and I recently went to a weekly at Ignite Gaming Lounge, where I lost to two players I had never played before. Many of Chicago’s players that I probably could’ve handle 6 months ago have now accelerated to my level because I haven’t been practicing every day.

Now, practicing doesn’t necessarily mean playing – watching videos and theory-crafting can also be practice, especially if they’re videos of your own play. As a rule of thumb, actively play the game 4 days out of the week.

If you’re practicing for a long period of time and can’t fit that in your schedule anymore, try slimming the time you play down. I think 30 minutes is perfect – it’s enough to get something out of practicing, and it’s more time-efficient. You can squeeze in a quick 30 minutes in the morning before work/school, as a break to doing homework, or right before you go to bed.

You’re autopiloting

Autopiloting is a term that’s used to refer to the state of mind where you’re not cognitively thinking about what you’re doing while playing – you’re just playing. This leads to easily read habits that can be swiftly dealt with, and suddenly you’re down a stock without really knowing what adjustments you need to make mid-match.

There are a million reasons why you could be autopiloting, so there’s no easy fix for this. You need to work on being more cognitive of what you’re doing while playing. If the audience distracts you, try music. If you just suddenly feel drained, see what’s causing that and work to fix it. If you’re getting bored or frustrated, try and reset to neutral or take those whole 4-5 seconds of invincibility after losing a stock to recompose yourself.

You’re comfortable

This is a really big one. You go from top 25 to top 10. You’ve finally broken that barrier, and now you’re happy with how good you’ve gotten. You still want to get to top 5 and eventually be the best, but after all that work you’ve put in, you’re thinking, “I probably don’t need to practice today,” or, “tonight I just want to relax at the weekly. I’m gonna make top 10 anyway.”

These are not good thoughts. Being happy with where you are is great, but don’t let it stop you from improving. If you’re truly happy with top 10 and don’t have a burning desire to go all the way to #1, then great – you’ve accomplished your goal. But if you still want to get better, don’t slack off once you hit major milestones.

You’re cocky

Now that you’re a big hotshot player, you walk around like you own the place. You give advice that’s (probably) unwarranted, you talk smack to all the players you used to respect but are now better than, and you get really, really frustrated when people below your rank beat you. You belittle those wins as much as possible, and belittle wins of those that are ranked higher than you. You get angry when a new PR is released and you’re not where you thought you should be – why is Player X above me again? You play off your losses like it couldn’t’ve been your fault you lost. Well, it is – go humble yourself and show some respect. I’m all for a little edge and smack talk, but let’s not think we’re all that, okay? I suffered from this myself back in the Brawl days, when I finally hit the PR for the first time I got pretty angry when I lost, thinking that I should’ve been better and should be winning. I never bothered to reflect on why I was losing, I was just blinded by my own pride.

Clear your head and realize that you’re not some special celebrity. You’re good, sure, but you’ll never be great with that attitude.

You’re losing motivation

You had a reason why you wanted to be the best, but maybe that reason has changed or is invalid now. You don’t really know why you’re putting so much time into this game, so you put in less and less time.

There’s no easy fix for this one, either. This is all on you. Find a reason to reignite that fire, or just accept that this is where you’re going to be until you get that time back.

You’re just playing

Whether you don’t really know where to start or you’re not really focusing when practicing, you can play as much as you want, but at some point you’re going to fall flat when it comes to improvement. Yes, doing something every day will help you be better at it, but consciously thinking about what you’re doing and trying to understand all the finer details will help you even more.

When practicing, take the time to pause and think. Analyze different situations, try and visualize different options, and then execute on them when practicing. Don’t just play.

Also, don’t think you can substitute thoughtful play for playing every day. Do both.

You’re burnt out

A lot of players in Chicago play for many hours a day or binge on Super Smash Bros. a couple times a week. This can cause them to grow tired of the game, especially if they don’t see immediate results after playing for so long. Or, after playing so much they become bored and want to take a break. This can kill all motivation and your training regimen/habits. Don’t let burning out stop you.

If you feel like you’re growing tired of the game but still want to get better, take a small 1-2 week break. No tournaments, no playing (not even casually). All you should do is watch videos and streams to practice every day. If you do go to tournaments, don’t play friendlies – just socialize and watch. Actively play and enter tournaments once your break is over.

Practice can feel like a chore sometimes, and this is just one way to reignite the passion to play every day again. If you don’t want to watch videos or streams too, then so be it. Just. Don’t. Play. Do not touch the game for the time you’ve allotted yourself for a break.

And don’t let it be longer than a month. You want to be relatively fresh when you jump back in, and in my opinion, a month is too long for a break.

Your mentality is holding you back

I’ve written very briefly about some of the aspects of the mental game of Super Smash Bros., but in any competition, having a strong grip on your mental composure is crucial to your improvement and success as a player. I’m not going to get too into it here, but if you’re getting too frustrated from losing, too cocky from winning, or feeling hopeless mid-match after being combo’d, killed, etc… then you’re not going to improve. If you can’t calm your nerves when you need to perform something easy and mess it up, then you’re probably going to lose. If you raise top players onto a pedestal, you’re never going to beat them.

The hardest part for this specific example is that you might be in denial because your attitude is how you think and feel, and that doesn’t change easily. If people are talking about how you act during certain situations, how you complain/rant all the time, or about your negative attitude, it’s time to humble yourself and ask if your mentality is holding you back from being truly great.

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There are many, many more reasons as to why a player plateaus – these are just some common ones. I’ve gone through a couple of these myself, and I guarantee you will too.

Take a breath, work to fix the problem, and get yourself back out there. Just don’t be discouraged if it takes a while. Sometimes, it’s a slow ride back to improving. Other times, you’ll be back on track and improving after one small session.

Just Sayin’

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!

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

 

Choosing a Main in Super Smash Bros.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. That means you’ll be joining together with family and friends, and you know the relatives around your age are gonna want to play some Super Smash Bros.! So get ready to bust out your main and lay down some heat!

A “main” is something that anyone in a competitive fighting game can toss around – it’s the character you use the most; the character that you’re trying to win with; the character you have the most fun with. It doesn’t just encompass competitive play – even casual players have a “main” character that they’ll use amongst friends and challengers.

Picking your main is an important part of Super Smash Bros. This is the character you’ll be putting in most of your time practicing and playing with. It’s the character you’ll do research on, learn match-ups for, and try to win with.

So, how do you pick one? There are a lot of characters and a lot of different styles of play. I’m going to break this down, because finding a main happens even in casual play, and I’d like to address those players in this post as well.

The first thing I want to cover applies to every level, but especially competitive players, and that’s style.

I won’t go over this in too much detail (but I highly recommend you go look some of this stuff up or ask me personally to break it down further), but when I say “style” I’m referring to the style the character brings out. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms, “Aggressive Falco”, or “Defensive Mario”. Aggressive and Defensive are both styles of play. Let me give you a list of the common ones and a small definition of them:

Aggressive/Offensive: Focuses on applying pressure to win. Often will throw out many attacks.

Defensive/Campy: Focuses on defense and punishing. Tends to attack much less and throws out projectiles if able instead of running at the opponent.

Bait and Punish: Utilizes pressure and defense to fool opponent and punish them hard. Also likes to use frame traps to force 50/50 situations (you guess wrong you get punished, you guess right you’re safe).

Now, a player is not strictly one of these styles. I would say a player combines a blend of these styles but leans towards one more than the others.

So what does this have to do with picking a character?

Well, characters have certain styles that fit them better. Take the character I use: Kirby. Kirby doesn’t excel very well in the offensive department – he has slow ground and air speed and so doesn’t have the luxury of moving in and out quickly and just throwing out attacks. Kirby’s best played with a Bait and Punish style. He lures characters in and then punishes hard. If you lean more towards an Offensive style, Kirby might not feel right for you.

When you’re picking a character, you want to find one that fits ‘you’, the player. If you don’t feel comfortable playing a certain way, but that character begs to be played that way, I suggest you look for another character, or learn to play that style better. I actually lean heavily towards Offensive, but due to my experience I’m able to turn Kirby into a character that can be played my way. That takes a very long time – long after you’ve improved.

Okay, let’s dive a little deeper into the levels of play and how they should think about main selection.

Casual

If you’re playing at a more casual level, I highly recommend that your main be who you have the most fun with. Or, if you’ve got character loyalty, go ahead and continue being loyal. At this level of play, characters are pretty balanced. No one really understands the ways to abuse a character’s strong points and exploit their weak points.

Why would someone casual have a main? C’mon, Smash is still a competition, and people like to win. Even if you’re casual, there’s gonna be kids who want to challenge you. You gotta have a character to lay the smack down with. It’s definitely not as important, but identifying yourself with a character definitely helps you bond with other players (“Oh, you play Fox? Cool! I play Ike.”). That conversation happens a lot in any level of play.

Style is important, but really, your style isn’t as refined here, so you can get away with playing basically everyone.

Casual-Competitive

This is for the players who are casual but might be interested in joining the competitive scene or are just naturally competitive and play much more than their casual counterpart, or are players who are part of the competitive scene but don’t have a burning desire to improve (AKA ME).

At this point your style has been refined. You probably can recognize how you play and are able to pinpoint which characters suit your style. If you’re not worried about how you place or if you want to develop a character that’s not top tier, go ahead. If they suit your style, go for it!

The bottom line for this level and the other level is that you shouldn’t sweat who your main is. Pick who you like and who you have fun with! Try and further a character’s meta along. Who knows? That character might become the next top tier fad.

If you want to win and really improve results-wise, however…

Competitive

Pick a current high – top tier character. You want to win and to improve. You want results. If you don’t, you’re Casual-Competitive, and that’s okay. But for those that want glory, pick a character that’s high on the tier list and that fits your style. Don’t try to mold a character – pick one that flows with the style you lean towards naturally – you’ll improve much faster when you’re not battling your main’s preferred style. And don’t try to change your own style yet – wait until you’ve got some experience. You want a character that lets you lean towards your own style, which means you can utilize their tools effectively.

Characters like Mario and Sheik are all great characters to pick because they mesh well with basically all three styles of play and allow you to lean towards any style and not feel like you’re battling the character.

If your character falls out of favor and is deemed less than high tier? Stick with it for at least a year (as I mentioned in my improvement post about character loyalty) and then consider changing. At that point you’ve got enough experience to make a solid decision yourself, provided you’ve been improving often and not hitting a plateau.

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Your main is a part of you. Don’t take picking one lightly, but also don’t put too much thought into it. It is just a character in a game after all. I suggest, for every skill level, you play around with the characters available to you and feel each one out. Then you can make an informed decision about which one you want to pick.

And if you’re competitive: stick to the main you’ve chosen. That means put in the appropriate time to pick one and not regret it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone – have fun Smashing with family and friends! 🙂

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 VIII – Character Loyalty

**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.

This will be my last official post on improving in Smash 4. It’s been quite the journey, but I’ve had fun writing these for you guys, and I hope you’ve taken something from them and improved because of it. While this will be my last official post, fret not! I still have plenty of content aimed at improving in Super Smash Bros.: there are a few collaborative posts in the works, I’ve got some topics I received from the Chicago Smash 4 community after asking about topics they’d like me to cover that aren’t necessarily improvement-focused, and I’ll be starting a video series aimed at improvement to supplement this series. This will all be coming in the following months, so stay tuned for that!

And now, without further adieu, let’s talk about character loyalty!

Character Loyalty is a term generally used for a player that will stick with their character, no matter what. Maybe they love the character’s franchise, the character themselves, or the style of play the character provides. Either way, the player has their reasons for sticking with them. I’m going to go over another kind of character loyalty: the kind that will improve your play.

Your Main

The character that you eventually choose as your main is the character you’ll be spending the most time playing, watching, studying, and experimenting with. After all, you’re trying to win tournaments with this character. Now, while Smash 4 is a game that benefits from playing at least one other character (having a secondary), it’s a good idea to master your main before you even think about picking up a secondary. While a veteran can adapt to new character MU’s and player MU’s on the fly, it’s hard to stay consistent if you keep switching characters. Even veterans can become inconsistent if they keep switching for months because they’re struggling.

Let me lay this out for you plainly: you have not mastered your character until you’ve been playing for at least a year.

If you’re playing as many different people as possible, traveling out of state, and attending whenever out of state competition comes, it takes about a year to accumulate all the knowledge you’ve gained as a player to master your main, and that’s assuming you’ve only been using your main in tournament.

All the research, techniques, and intricacies of your character that you need to learn for every single character MU and to adapt well to players takes a long time. Add onto that the general techniques you need to learn to execute if they help your character, and you’ve got quite a lot on your plate to practice. And then, you need to be able to utilize all of those techniques and information in a tournament settings. Being able to do it in Training Mode alone isn’t enough. And that’s why it can take so long to master your character.

If you switch your characters, you’ve effectively barred your progress. And no, playing another character isn’t going to transfer over to your main. Smash 4 is in a stage where learning new things is still very possible and currently happening. When you return, you’re not suddenly going to be performing better because you don’t know every nook and cranny of the character to begin with: how can you possibly transfer skills from another character over when it might not even be effective?

You could transfer over play style knowledge, but be wary that you might start playing the character in a way that’s really not efficient. For all the efficient ways to play character X, there’s also very inefficient ways.

Now, most of these rules apply to new players who have picked up Super Smash Bros. when Smash 4 came out. Veterans, generally, have the fundamental know-how to switch a character and still perform decently, although they, too, will have to put some practice in before they achieve mastery, although it will take them a significantly less time to do so.

My bottom line is this: if you’re new to the scene, stick to character loyalty before making the switch. At least master your character. You’ll gain valuable knowledge that will help you when you finally decide it’s time to pick up a secondary or change your main entirely. If you really can’t stand using your main now and want to switch, then you switch and you don’t look back. Do NOT use your old main in tournament. You’ll run into the same problems.

Be loyal to your character, and you’ll succeed far more than juggling characters.

Just Sayin’

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

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

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