Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Advanced FD Uthrow Combos on Fox and Corrections

By now most of you have seen the "simplified tables" for combos on Fox and Falco in my previous posts, which were meant to make things more memorizable and easy to execute without losing much effectiveness.  Some simplifications, however, hid some important complexity, so now that my readers have a good bird's eye view of how the combos are supposed to go, it's time to delve into some details.

The biggest simplifications were that I treated both toward DI and side DI to be the same and each DI category had the same break points for their followups.  Break points in the percent ranges were hardly even a real thing, given the non-binary nature of the game, only suggestions for ease and simplicity. I felt that this was needed in order for players to be able to handle all the information, but after a lot of practice, I was able to recall more than I thought possible.

When you think about it, it doesn't make too much sense that the percent ranges listed under "no DI" would be the same as those under "side DI" when the followups were often different.  It just happened to fit pretty well together that you could start doing soft uair->regrab on no DI at around the same percent where you should start doing tipper uair->Fsmash on side DIs, for example.  For those starting out with doing percent-based combos, it made it really easy to break the combo into sections.
The same is true for the conflation of toward DI and away DI.  Uthrow does not have a perfectly straight-up trajectory, so the full side DIs will have slightly different trajectories that slightly affect the followups.  For the percent ranges given, everything still works regardless of the inaccuracies resulting from the simplifications, which only leave out things that do work instead of listing anything that doesn't work, but the difficulty of each cell varies, and the goal of ease of execution was sometimes sacrificed for memorizability.

Memorizing can be practiced as well as execution, so what does a truly optimal uthrow combo strategy look like?

Transitioning from the chaingrab into the juggle

The transition from repeated regrabs into doing uairs or utilts is one of the most important parts of the combo and where many make mistakes even if they are chaingrab masters, including top players.  The percent limits of the chaingrabs on Fox and Falco are affected by the differences between the different DIs.  Instead of putting a hard limit on when to stop chaingrabbing for any DI, you should end the chaingrab once they approach the limit for the particular DI they've done.  Against Fox, this means going for uair->regrab on away DI at about 50% but regrabbing if they do toward DI here, waiting until about 55% if they continue doing toward DI.  The higher the percent at which you decide to uair, (up to a much later point, of course), the easier it will be to hit the uair, react to the DI and get your regrab.  The trajectory for toward DI is slightly lower and further away at any given time, so you want to do your uairs at higher percents than you would for away DI.  Again, the old table still works, but this is a slight optimization.  

That's if you still plan on taking a purist no-utilting path that I strongly suggested in the past.  Even if you avoid the difficulty of taking chaingrabs right to their limit, the uair->regrab transition from no-DI or slight toward DI is fairly difficult to pull off, requiring a pivot uair, as a SH back uair is weak to DI away.  This occurs at 47%.  The chaingrab limit on no DI is at 46% (away: 52, toward, 61 (58 is practical)).  Taking this path then requires both a frame-tight regrab or two and a difficult pivot uair if the opponent is doing no DI or slight toward DI.

Here's how I would map out the difficulty of the relevant percent ranges:

21-30: easy
31-43: very easy
44-52: very hard
53-59: hard
60-64: medium
65-75: easy

Utilts at around this percent hit too hard if the opponent DIs in the direction of Marth's back, so the alternative given was a mixup between walk utilt (or middle-hit usmash) and turnaround utilt.  However, this gives your opponent a chance to escape.

But, it's possible to skip this difficult part of the chaingrab if you utilt earlier, where you can still follow up on any DI.  The percents where you can uthrow-(no DI)->utilt-(any DI)->regrab, 29-34, are a bit too low to make it past the hard range.  37-44 seems to be a good range to front-hit tipper utilt easily on side DIs (walk forward for away DI) while having a turnaround back hit utilt for no DI and slight DIs that won't give them a chance to escape.  These utilts also hit hard enough on away DI and no DI that you'll be able to follow with an uair->regrab.  Utilt->uair->regrab will put you right into medium or easy percents.  Less ideal is if they DI toward on the utilt and you're forced to dash regrab, however "hard" or "medium" is better than "very hard."

The only stipulation is that these utilts may be susceptible to SDI.  If you find that they are too far away to regrab, you can still mix up between a dash attack or dash SH tipper fair, both leading to a regrab at those percents.  Dash attack loses to toward DI, while fair beats it.  If you can't even get those, a tech chase should still be possible. You need to be able to react and adapt on the fly to strange DI scenarios, which brings me to the next section.

Note: this strategy doesn't work as well on Falco, since his utilt followup range on side DI is about the same, while his very hard range occurs later (53-59).  This means that unless you can get an utilt->uair->regrab combo instead of just an utilt regrab, you won't skip the very hard range at all.

Uair regrabbing unreliable?

Sometimes they will go too high on your uairs.  Maybe you did them too early, maybe your opponent ASDI'd up.  What I have neglected to mention was that there is a middle height between uair->regrab and uair->tipper-Fsmash.  It is usually possible to avoid this middle height by timing your uairs carefully, but sometimes things don't go as planned.  It's very difficult to get the right timing to get uair->regrab at 60-64 as I suggested in the table, anyway.  The solution of course is to do uair->uair (both tipper).  At low uthrow->uair percents you might even need to do three tipper uairs.

You will just have to judge when you need to go for a second uair and when you can regrab in the percent ranges between early uair->regrab range and uair->Fsmash range.  Remembering the percents from the table can give you a good gauge, though. 

Soft Uair unreliable?

While we're talking about uair regrabs, the soft uair regrab loop was a major feature of the flowchart.
There are actually two soft uairs, a middle sword hit and weaker body hit.  The percent range I gave for soft uair->regrab was 65-79, however, you can do it with the middle hit as early as 55.  Body hit only causes Fox to enter tumble at 67.  The thing is, it's really hard to hit the middle hit, and it's hard to tell that you've done it sometimes.  The slight difference in knockback can mess you up at later percents where you have very little time to react to DI and so little time to differentiate between trajectories as well.  So, you should honestly only be going for this past 67, up to about 75, since if you hit the middle hit there, they'll be hit too high.

The other issue with the move is its weakness to toward DI.  The natural trajectory sends Fox slightly behind Marth, so toward DI sends them far away.  The 80-94 range for soft uair->Fsmash is quite unreliable because you can't tell if you need to pivot or not.  SDI makes this even more difficult.  Half the time I settle for the soft Fsmash into an edgeguard, which isn't bad but it isn't ideal.

An alternate up to about 75 is to do a SH back tipper uair->Fsmash, but that has a weakness to DI away.  Pivot uair into pivot Fsmash solves that issue, though it is difficult. 60-88 you can pivot Fsmash to either direction, and beyond that, up-B.

Just taking the Fsmash or up-B is especially advisable when you are not in center stage.  An extra 10-13% damage tacked on before your Fsmash is not an improvement if it forces you to send them in a worse direction.  That segues nicely into a discussion about stage position.

Hold your ground

Using ikneedata, I came to an important conclusion: launch position and direction can be more important than launch percent.  The distance they end up off stage is very dependent on where you hit them from.  I devoted a good portion of the Fox table post to the topic of using fair juggles in cases where you want to hold stage position, but there is more that you should know about how it affects your optimal followups.

If it's a good idea to use fair you have stage position, it's a good idea to use uair when you don't have it, since there's a chance they will DI toward and the position will reverse in your favor.

If you're off to a side of the stage, taking an Fsmash or an up-B is a strong option, especially when you don't have the option to fair, as is often the case when they do no-DI.  I did recently learn that you can pivot fair, which results in a decent mixup with pivot Fsmash, but that will still only work up to 72 or so.

It's not always necessary to go for a mixup with fair.  Instead you can take the edgeguard mixup from a low percentage Fsmash or a high percentage up-B.  However, sometimes it is really obvious when your opponent is DIing toward you, you just have the read.  Many players, even top players, can't resist holding toward, especially because DIing away against soft fair is also dangerous for them by the edge at high percents.  The correct answer would be to do no DI, but players tend not to do that in fear of strong hits.

Fsmash and Up-B

So now you might be wondering when you can land these strong hits, really.  In my table I said up to 95% is when you can dash pivot Fsmash.  However, this is ridiculously difficult on away DI, and still very difficult on toward DI, and in fact you need to do a long dash-wavedash.  Pivots for earlier percents still require practice.  Being realistic, I say you should start trying it at 85% and when you're comfortable with that, up to 90%.  It's also possible to land soft uair on side DIs, with it being more practical on away DI, at around these percents.

Charging Fsmash has a noticeable effect.  For every three frames you charge, you get the equivalent of a 2% higher pre-hit percent Fsmash.  You can pivot charge Fsmash against no DI if you're able, or you can do standing charge Fsmashes on side DIs (up to 69% on away DI, 72% on toward DI).  This tends to make a bigger difference on smaller stages or when you're off to a side of the stage.  On the other hand, charging telegraphs your Fsmash, letting the opponent execute optimal DI and SDI.  If you decide to charge Fsmash, make sure it will kill outright or lead to a guaranteed edgeguard.

Some players say they are able to react to Fsmash no matter what, but that doesn't seem to always be the case.  To exploit this, Fsmash can be used as part of a mixup with fair.  Players tend to have some DI pattern, watch for it.  Even trickier is to mix up what direction you Fsmash them in, with the use of dash dances and pivots when you uthrow them with no DI.  

Up-B percent listings were just incorrect.  I couldn't seem to land reverse up-B past the percents given.  Using non-reverse up-B (yes, with the strong hit), I was able to get the following, including in real matches:

Away: up to 130
Neutral: up to 125
Toward: up to 120

Again, start lower and practice it until you can get these consistently, it's worth it.  You can mostly disregard what other options I had at 95-120.  Up-B is criminally underrated, just don't use it when they won't be sent far away enough off stage for you to fall to the ground and edgeguard.

It's also possible to up-B in either direction on uthrow no DI via pivot jumping in order to face the other direction before double jumping back.  This sacrifices some of the percent range of possibility, depending on how fast you are, but it is very much worth it to be able to reverse positions with a strong hit if you're cornered.

Juggling out of uthrow (side DI)

So, later in the Fox table post I got into juggle options, but they were mostly not accurate, talking only about tipper fair, and the ranges tested were for no-DI, assuming that everything would still work the same way for toward DI and survival DI.  In fact, these numbers still assume toward DI. Survival DI, the DI that's meant to survive Fsmash, will affect the numbers and followups a bit.  Up-B is a good fallback when things go wrong, or you can use numbers further in these listings to continue with long juggles.  You want to keep your juggles short, this is not a stylistic choice.  The less mixups you have to do, the better.  And if dair is possible and will kill, just do it, I won't always list it.

Here's how I now think the juggles should be done (t means tipper, s means soft):

57-76 SHtFair->Fsmash
A quick fair and a tight FF is required on the low end of this range, and a big delay on the fair is required on the later end.  Alternatively, you can do a SHsFair or SH Uair to continue the juggle.

75-95 SHsFair->Fsmash
Like in soft uair combos, you don't have much time to react to properly align a tipper Fsmash.  Soft Fsmash is still pretty good at this percent.  I've found that charging Fsmash after landing and then releasing when it's time helps with reacting for the tipper.  Alternatively, you can do a SHtFair or SH Uair to continue the juggle.

96-105 SHsFair->dair/fair only
You can dair most of the time in the other ranges, but that's all you can do at this point.  If dair won't kill, use a fair to end it.

106-120 just Up-B

up to 100 or so
FH tipper fairs are okay, but SH fairs tend to give you more options.  They do have the advantage over soft fairs for giving you more time to react, but soft fairs carry further.  The way you hit the tipper fair on the way up can be varied greatly, being possible to hit with the bottom part of the fair.

As I later discovered, on uthrow side DI you can do soft uairs, which can be done at about 90-105 for away DI and 85-95 for toward DI.  Reacting to DI a little bit easier at this high percent, and you can follow with a tipper Fsmash at 90-100 if they don't do toward DI.

SH tipper uairs in high percentage juggles (up to 105) are aiming for away DI into a dair.  It's usually a dair because away-DI'd uairs will carry them across the stage.  This makes SH tipper uair as good an option to beat away DI than up-B when you're off to one side of stage.  They're equally effective at beating away DI, but toward DIs will reverse position in your favor if you uair, and up-B is slightly better against no DI here.  Fairs have slightly less DI coverage in these situations.

Choose your aerials depending on how much room you have on stage left.  Tipper uairs and soft fairs carry further, but you'll some room on stage to dash in order to follow up on them.  Tipper fairs and soft uairs can be used when you're lacking room, or you can end it there with a strong hit or a dair that would only work if it isn't DI'd in as your option coverage for away DI.

At many points in the juggle, you can end it with up-B.  This can come into play especially when they do no DI on your SHtUair at a fairly high percent, above uair-(no DI)>Fsmash range (80+) or fair-(no DI)->Fsmash range (75+).  Or, when they just happen to go too high for Fsmash due to the opponent's DI or your mistake in timing the aerial and you need a strong hit or don't have a good juggle followup.

There are several other ways to continue juggles, such as with side-Bs or reverse fairs and bairs, but they rarely find usage right out of uthrow and are often not necessary or worth the risk.  However, there are some situations at high percent, as part of extended juggles, where these options are viable, along with neutral B, generally when they are just out of reach above you or above their effective percent range for the usual options.

Further research needs to be done on juggles from uthrow no-DI.  The juggles that I listed for 95-110 no DI are not that great, often if you're close enough to the edge where reverse aerial juggles are useful, you're also close enough for up-B into edgeguard to be a more consistent option.  The side-B->uair->up-B combo is useful in theory at center stage, but I have yet to land it in a match.

That's enough for now

I probably could have broken this up into multiple posts, but the sections flowed so well together! Next time I'll go over any loose ends regarding uthrow combos on Falco on FD.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

About Me and This Blog

Let me tell you a little about myself.  I started playing Melee late 2009, a couple months after I started playing Soul Calibur 4 competitively.  I focused much more on SC4 and SC5, and achieved some pretty good tournament results.

However, I remained bad at Melee, finally seeing steady improvement after I quit Soul Calibur (dead game, waiting for SC6) and started focusing entirely on Melee.  

Melee is quite different from Soul Calibur, being much faster, more chaotic, and more mechanically complex which greatly affects the mindset of the players.  In Soul Calibur and many other traditional fighters, learning and practicing your combos is one of the early steps you take before being a serious competitor, and the necessary information is readily available on their community sites.  However, it's difficult to find any good information on combos (or really anything else) in Melee.  Especially when I started playing, there were absolute seas of misinformation that endlessly frustrated me in their incompleteness or inaccuracy.  Combo videos were not demonstrations of basic combos, but montages of rarely applicable combos.  The differences in player mindsets certainly don't end there, but this is a problem that I feel capable of solving as a currently unranked (barely) San Diego player.

Take this old chaingrab guide for example:

  1. 1. 0 - 16%: Regular regrabs
  2. 2. 17 - 32%:
  3. 2a. No DI or slight behind DI: Pivot regrabs.
  4. 2b. Any other DI: Regular regrabs.
  5. 3.0. 33%:
  6. 3.0a. No DI: Turnaround uptilt -> regrab
  7. 3.0b. Slight behind DI: Uptilt -> regrab
  8. 3.0c. Any other DI: Regular regrab -> pummel
  9. 3.1. 34% (the reason it's different from 33% is that uptilt starts becoming unreliable against no DI because of its weird "not-upwards" hitboxes. If you actually get the correct hitbox, it'll still connect into a regrab, so if you feel confident that you can get it every time then just follow the chart for 33%):
  10. 3.1a. No DI: Rising SHFFL uair --> regrab
  11. 3.1b. Slight behind DI: Uptilt --> regrab
  12. 3.1c. Any other DI: Regular regrab
  13. 3.2. 35 - ~59%:
  14. 4a. No DI or slight behind DI: SHFFL uair -> regrab
  15. 4b. Any other DI: Regular regrab
  16. 5.0. ~60 - ~65%: Pummel at least once before throwing -> delayed SHFFL uair -> regrab (they should now have at least 80%, but less than 90%)
  17. 5.1. ~69 - ~75%: Pummel at least once before throwing -> delayed SHFFL uair -> tipper (post-tipper damage should be around 105%)
  18. 6.0. ~80 - ~84%: Pummel once or twice before throwing -> delayed SHFFL uair -> tipper (post-tipper damage should be around 110%)
  19. 6.1. ~85 - ~87%: Delayed SHFFL uair -> tipper (post-tipper damage should be around 115%)
  20. 7. 90+%: Either upthrow -> tipper or upthrow -> weak uair -> tipper

The problems with this guide are endless.  There's directions for 33% only, in a game where staling is going to affect slight differences? It isn't even true that utilt becomes unreliable due to hitboxes, it only arguably becomes unreliable due to higher knockback at later percents.  If you want the right hitbox, you want to do turnaround utilt.  30-33% is a fine place to do utilts that aren't too susceptible to escapes by SDI.  35-59 chaingrab on all DIs? That ain't Falco, and even the chaingrab on him ends at 52 on no DI.  No direction on how to uair against slight DI toward in that range.  66-68 and 76-79 are just skipped.  90+% you can't "uthrow -> tipper" and there's no details as to what do against side DIs.  No mention of uthrow->up-B?

This and guides like it are all people had to work with for years.  SSBM tutorials put out a chaingrab guide in 2016, but its directions for transitioning out of chaingrabbing into the juggle or finishers are vague, suboptimal and misleading.  And nobody gives any special attention to comboing Falco.  Kadano has put out great combo tables, but his Sheik data seems to contain mistakes.  His Falcon table was excellent, but overly detailed and lacking any guidance as to what followup one should choose.  What I mean by that is, nobody should be interested in learning every possible followup in every situation.  What's important is knowing the best followups for the situation -- not just what can be done, but what you should do.

Even my own guides on this blog have had their problems that have either fixed or saved for a later "advanced guide" to deal with advanced anti-combo techniques, which I have neglected to mention because I don't want non-Marth players to know about them until I've developed a good way of beating it.  

Just play by feel, they said...

Most of the time when I ask players about combo options, they reply "I just do it by feel."  This makes a lot of sense.  Most characters don't need to memorize combo percents, and can just look at the situation and see what they can continue the combo with.  The problem is, this doesn't work.  Players are not nearly maximizing their punishes unless they have done some kind of labbing.  Falcon players and Sheik players have quietly done their own homework on comboing Marth and other characters to their fullest, and Marth players need to do the same to catch up in the meta.

And it just isn't enough that Marth players know their stuff when it comes to combos on FD.  The only combo guide that takes into account platforms at all has been Kadano's uair platform tech chase guide, which, as it turns out, doesn't have as much applicability as many players seem to think.  Doing the setup right out of uthrow, which is to drift or FF uair on reaction to tech options, only covers tech in place with a tipper uair past 43% or so, and 50% for Falco, and something really high for Falcon.  It also won't cover all options if you're to the side of the platform and side DI'd to the platform.  And people have no idea what do out of those uairs, should they hit, they just go for more uairs, racking damage until they escape, with no good plan for a strong combo finisher.

Every other character often seems to have a well-developed metagame for their punishes, which are often much simpler than Marth's.  They often can get away by feel because they don't benefit much by thinking past the next hit.  Marth can actually be punished if he messes up some of his combos or if attempts to continue a combo when he should instead apply pressure or a tech chase mixup.  Marth seems to be the only character whose top players often seem to be flailing around in their combos without a plan.  You need a plan with Marth or else you won't finish your combo well.  I'm not as good as the top Marths, but knowing what I know now, they very often make obvious mistakes.

Playing by feel to some extent is unavoidable, given the amount of possibilities, but the more you know, the better at playing by feel you will seem to be.  If you know what you're doing, the gaps in knowledge that you encounter and need to close with intuition will be much smaller.

This blog is meant to give you the knowledge necessary to comfortably navigate the complex punish game of Marth.

What's to come

After months of labbing and testing in real matches I have a large portion of the uthrow combo game on platform stages mapped out, so hit that follow button.  I'll also tie up any loose ends in the FD combo guides.  My level of play isn't sufficient to take my suggestions only by my word, but I will be backing everything up with hard data and game theory.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Art of Juggling

The Falling Juggle

In the *video game* Super Smash Bros. Melee, in *Esports* competitive play (Adsense's crawler has no idea what this blog is about, just making it clear)...

Marth wrecks a lot of characters just by being below them, but somehow, they still make it down. Why? What's the best way making sure you never lose the exchange? What are they doing correctly when they manage to get down? I'm going to try and answer these questions. Marth's Uair beats everything head to head, so it seems like it should always win, but there are a few cases where it doesn't:

1. They hit you before it comes out
2. They trade favorably
3. You do it too early
4. They move too far to the side 

Sound familiar? The juggle situation is it's own kind of vertical footsies or "neutral game," except it's in your favor: they don't have the option to retreat or stay still except with an expendable double jump, and your hitboxes are more disjointed than theirs. So if you let them down, depending on the character, it's because you timed and positioned the uair wrong.

Here's how I suggest you make it easier:  Time and position the jump so that you encounter them with as little upward momentum as possible. This slows it down just in case they try and surprise you by closing the distance when you jump. If both players move toward each other, they close the distance twice as fast as normal, making it difficult to react and time the attack properly.

You also want to be as close to right below them as possible. If they are already drifting to the side, you should dash just past their current position. Their drift is aiming to avoid directly challenging Marth's uair from above, getting a better angle where they can pit their fair or bair against the side hit of your uair or your fair instead of trying to beat your uair with their dair.  Or they are trying to avoid challenging your aerial at all, by getting out of range, or enticing you toward them and suddenly changing their horizontal direction with a double jump or air dodge.  By the time you react to their change in direction, they may be too low to the ground and far away and you won't be able to continue your juggle.  This is especially the case if you jump toward them with momentum.  

In order to account for both possibilities, them drifting away and them changing momentum, I recommend shield stopping before jumping to stop horizontal momentum and staying close to the ground. To stay close to the ground, you either want to short hop or full hop to a platform. Instant double jump for that middle height jump might be useful too. If you jump too early, they have time to wait out your jump or move to the side. If you jump too late, you'll be rising right into them and your timing will have to be stricter and you're in worse position if you miss. The key is to get a sense of the right height the enemy character needs to be before you choose to jump, based on how fast they fall. Other than their double jump, they only have their fast fall timing, their aerial drift, or some character specific ability to vary where they will be in the near future behind the veil of reaction time.

Purple Rectangle has little choice but to fall into Blue Rectangle's attack.

Staying under them without too much horizontal momentum allows you to follow their drift with your own drift, and staying close to the ground allows you to land and disengage or throw out another attack, if need be.  You don't always have to time to attain this perfect positioning, especially after disengaging, but you want to get closest to this ideal as possible.  And as long as you're not completely overextending with high vertical or horizontal momentum, you can punish any air dodge attempts, as well.

You do want to kill them eventually, though.  Endless uairs doesn't do you much good. You want to lead them toward the edge of the stage, eventually offstage, without a double jump at high percent if possible, to secure an easy edgeguard. This can be done by staying slightly toward the side of center stage instead of right under them. Mixing in fairs and bairs will get the job done at high percent.  There are also mid percent ranges for each character where soft fair Ken combos become worth going for.  Look forward to a post about that in future.

Character specific stipulations

If you choose your jumping position, height and fastfall timing properly, there's little that many characters can do, but some have ways of handling it. Double jumps, fast fall speed, good downward hitboxes, and horizontal momentum can make it nearly impossible to consistently juggle a character. Against the fast fallers, they fall too fast so they have to be extremely high up for you to have time to get below them and jump early enough to not be on the way up by the time they get to you. Their FF is too fast to react to, so you have to guess their timing. If they double jump at the right timing, you can't continue the juggle easily. If you stay close to the ground, as with this strategy, you won't be flat out punished, though.  But you should mix in standard dash dancing more often than not.

On the other side of the extreme, Puff has enough horizontal momentum to sort aerial dash dance to throw off your below positioning, and can simply move to the side and beat you with a bair. You can still limit options if you execute this strategy well and mix it up, but you have to take great pains to maintain an offensive stance against so many double jumps.  The same is true against Kirby, except he has a more threatening dair and the down-B that punishes any over-extended aerial chase.

Middle weights are where you'll see the most difference using this strategy. Even if they double jump, you can simply fast fall to the ground and follow them with another dash shieldstop SH. Floaties will want to LRA+START and switch characters. 

Sheik and Pikachu (and Pichu) have very little to help them come down, though Sheik benefits greatly from getting to the side of you, and Pikachu's double jump is quick and low enough that any imperfection at executing this strategy can leave you with not enough time to consistently stop Pikachu's FF aerial after he does it.

In the Marth ditto (and against Roy), side-B and sideways aerial drift is used, but proper execution of this method makes it matter very little.  Only a very precise, non-boosted side-B which alters Marth's fall speed just enough and not too much can save him, and if you simply wait it out, it is punishable on reaction.  Mixing up the heights and timings of your aerials makes it pretty much impossible for side-B to ever work, nor will a falling aerial save him.

Peach will try to float just outside of your SH uair range, but you don't use rising aerials like it recommend, it won't matter if you whiff, you can just land and utilt or jump again before Peach can get to you.  You can just follow her drift and wait out her float, mixing between dash shield stop SHing and delaying the aerial and doing one right away.  The Peach player needs to hard read your aerial timing and drift within a limited period of time in order to get down.

Samus can bomb to avoid an attack, but if you are executing the falling juggle, this gains Samus nothing but a brief period of sideways drift which can throw you off.  You can repeatedly dash shield stop SH aerial against a bombing Samus until platforms force you to do something else.  Her only hope is use the bomb drift (she briefly gains the ability to nearly instantly change directions in the air) in those situations.  Just stay safe, you don't want to risk taking any damage against this character, as you need to hit her a lot more than she hits you, with the exception being when you can go for mid-percentage Ken combos.

The Marios tend to use their dairs or air dodges to get down, but this loses to the falling juggle.  Capes are about as ineffective as Marth's side-B.

Luigi and ICs can use their down-B and side-B respectively and mash just enough to get over your aerial and then fall into you.  In this case, the falling juggle still works, but you need to mix it up a bit.  Completely disengage, baiting it out, and you get a free punish.  Mix up your aerial timing and they'll be hard-pressed to get their hard read.

Falling uairs can still work against Ganon, DK and the Links, but the timing is not easy.  You definitely want to mix in baiting them out with dash dance and punishing their end lag to skew the risk/reward further in your favor.

Not sure what to do against Yoshi.  He can easily time his double jump armor on reaction to a falling aerial, and a rising aerial is really dangerous to do.  Maybe SH, fall, and shield or dash away? He must DJ and do an aerial if he wants to come down and be safe against an aerial.  There's also side-B to worry about as well, that pops him up a bit.  That's if you're going to jump at him at all, it might be better to just stay grounded, dash dancing and shield grabbing his aerials when he reaches that predictable spacing.

Let's see, who's left? Zelda's never getting down.  Mewtwo is almost always getting down with up-B, you have to hard read where he will go.  Ness is not getting down except if he gets to the side of you and tricks you with a DJ aerial that can suddenly come at you diagonally (just bait it out).  Bowser will be trying to up-B away, I think, just follow him.

Stage specific stipulations

Three-platform stages complicate things. You have to see what platform they are trying to land on and aim to land there with the double jump. If they make it ambiguous by being positioned between the platforms, wavelanding off or platform dropping off the top platform to a low platform can work well. 

Watch for air dodges into high platforms, this will beat this strategy.  The counter-play is to save your DJ, bait it out, and DJ with an aerial or a NIL grab, or to do an aerial that barely lands on the platform.

It can be quite easy to juggle opponents on FD and PS because they have no top platform for refuge, with the exception of PS transformations where they have very safe places to escape to.


So that's about it.  The TLDR is that you should shield stop under them, jump earlier than you might think and hit them with falling uairs as they fall toward you. Stay close to the ground or platforms when you're in the air to stay safe. Lead them off stage.  You can't always do this if they're not high enough above you.  Recognize when you can and can't do it, and acknowledge the weaknesses and understand the mixup when you can't do a falling juggle.  This really important part of Marth's game, as it replaces a combo-based punish game against characters that don't have elaborate tables and flowcharts of true combos to work with.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Marth Uthrow Combo Table for Falcon

Toward DI
Away DI
(your choice of throw)
(your choice of throw)
(your choice of throw)
(Fthrow tech chase)
(Fthrow tech chase)
(Fthrow tech chase)
Turn Utilt
Side-B string (toward DI escapes)
Fair or Regrab
Turn utilt (away DI escapes)
Fair or Regrab
Mixup between:
Turn utilt and
Fsmash to your back side
Fair or Regrab
Mixup between:
Turn utilt and
Fsmash to your back side
Mixup between:
Fair and Fsmash
Mixup between:
Fair and Fsmash
Mixup between:
Fsmash to your back side and
walk back, Fsmash to the other side


Uair->Fsmash/Fair mixup
Mixup between:
Fair and Fsmash
Mixup between:
Fair and
(Pivot) Fsmash


Mixup between:
FH reverse (tipper) Fair
or soft Bair and
(Pivot) Fsmash to back side
Mixup between:
Fair and
(Pivot) Fsmash
Mixup between:
Fair and Uair


Mixup between:
FH reverse Fair or FH soft Bair and
Pivot Fsmash to back side
Mixup between:
Fair and Uair
Mixup between:
Fair and Uair
FH Uair->Uair OR Nair OR soft Bair
Mixup between:
Fair and Uair
FH Uair OR tipper Bair or soft Bair
FH DJ Uair or tipper Bair

This chart is largely a reduction of Kadano's table to a workable strategy.  Now I know many Marth players like to ban FD, so this combo table sometimes won't be useful when platforms get in the way.  However, like Fox/Falco table, it's a solid base that you can build off of with further research or intuition.  The more of the combo tree that you know, the less you have to deviate from the path you know to venture into the unknown.

The last tables I made had nice, easy-to-remember percent ranges that were chosen for ease of execution without losing much of any effectiveness, avoiding mixups and favoring guaranteed followups.  Against Falcon, we don't have that luxury.  Options are limited and have tight timings, try to get the higher port for that extra frame of leniency (this was tested with P1).

Here's Kadano's table from Smashboards: <-key and more info

Unlike Kadano's table, I identify the best two-choice mixup if there is one, and align and combine rows when possible.  Combos on Falcon are all about DI mixups.  Fsmash won't do much if it is survival DI'd, and Fair will rarely continue the combo if Falcon DIs away, but if he guesses wrong, he will just die to Fsmash at hilariously low percents or get Ken combo'd.  Utilts, as usual, are parts of a mixup at mid percents, as there is always a direction that will cause them to escape.  Utilts and fairs at lower percents may lead to a tech chase instead of another guaranteed followup, but I favor listing followups that lead another followup, which is usually another mixup or an edgeguard.


Let's get into the reasoning behind each set of choices in my table rows:


Here, no throw leads to a great followup.  Fthrow will not knockdown, though it might if it is fresh at 7% (if three of your last 10 moves were Fthrows, then it is too stale).  It leaves him standing and he can always jab you out of any followup or roll away. Pummeling once may help them get to a high enough percent for the knockdown, but they may mash out if your timing isn't perfect and they react quickly and mash well.  Dthrow always knocks down, but tech away is unreachable, and Bthrow is even worse, with even tech in place unpunishable.  Uthrowing and catching their double jump seems like the best option, but even that is liability.  If Falcon wiggles out of tumble, he lands in front of you at frame advantage.  Even if the Falcon player doesn't know this, catching Falcon's jump here doesn't lead to much, even with the lowest-to-ground uair or strongest utilt, since he's so heavy and low % that it grants too little hitstun, though it is damage and it should be possible to dash dance against any retaliation.  You can also bait the response after Fthrow, so the choice is yours.  If their tech away is cut short by the edge of the stage, then Dthrow is the best choice here.


Kadano lists followups for Uthrow at 22-26, but every option has an escape DI, so it's better to do a guaranteed Fthrow tech chase unless you think the gimmick option will be more successful. The Utilt and Side-Bs at 22-26 have very tight timings.  Utilt will itself only lead to a tech chase if DI'd toward.  Side-B on away DI can be escaped by DIing away, so you have a mixup there, but you have no such mixup for no-DI or toward DI on the Uthrow.  It's better to master the tech chase, there you will at least have a mixup.  The reaction tech chase is done by walking or WDing toward where you Fthrow them and grabbing them if they tech in place, jabbing them or waiting and reacting if they don't tech, and dash JC grabbing them if they side tech.


I was surprised to see that Falcon can be chaingrabbed at certain percents.  This segment is simple but the utilts and grabs have tight timings.  Turn utilt can be done without waiting to turn around first by putting the stick between the diagonal and up and pressing A.  The utilts may grant you another utilt, and even if they DI the utilts well, you will still be able to tech chase them.  If the utilt puts them right on top of you, you should grab them.  Body-hit uptilts always end the combo.


Here is a potential point of escape for you dirty Falcon player readers.  Doing no-DI on the Uthrow and then DIing toward is safe against every followup.  I list "Side-B string" because if Falcon doesn't DI toward, the string connects pretty well, with potential for a 4th hit, though you likely will only net a tech chase.  For the 3rd and 4th hits, up hits are best, as the other hits don't lead to anything.  Instead of Side-B, you may be able to regrab them if you have the higher port, due to the extra frame that they are in stun.  Utilt does not work because there's way to get anything but a body hit.  The regrab on toward DI is very difficult, requiring you to backdash and JC grab after you've finished turning around at a very tight timing.


No-DI is also problematic here.  Turn utilt, which nets a good utilt, is possible, but they are too low for a tipper Fsmash to complete the DI mixup that's possible in the next segment.  If Falcon DIs away from Marth after doing no-DI on the Uthrow, Falcon escapes.  By "away DI escapes" I mean DIing away from Marth's original facing direction, ending up behind Marth after the turn utilt. You can continue to regrab toward DI, but I prefer to Fair them.  Fair won't necessarily lead to anything but a tech chase, but even if they DI away you can WL to where they land and reaction tech chase from there.


This is where you start getting great options on any Uthrow DI again.  On no DI, Fsmashing in the opposite direction that you're facing will result in a "reverse Fsmash," sending them in the opposite direction you'd expect, so they'll be sent in the direction that you were originally facing.  If they DI away, Falcon has a weak enough recovery that an edgeguard will end the stock.  To beat survival DI, you turn utilt.  You can also do a normal utilt at later percents, but turn utilt is better because it saves you from having to turn around for the followup.  Either way, utilt sends Falcon in a similar direction as the appropriate survival DI for Fsmash, so if he somehow expects the Fsmash, that DI won't affect the utilt base trajectory.  This builds a solid 50/50 on whether or not Falcon will survival DI the tricky Fsmash or not, though full toward will allow an escape on the utilt and possibly make the Fsmash a bit more survivable.

If the utilt lands, this is a great place to follow with an Uair.  Since this Uair can be done lower to the ground than normal, and it puts Falcon at threat of a tipper Fsmash.  If that Uair isn't DI'd away, a second Uair that puts Falcon at threat of a tipper Fsmash can be added.  This situation is very similar to the utilt on no-DI against Fox/Falco at the 50-55%/56-59% ranges.  Fsmashes are still weak to survival DI, especially due to Falcon's weight, so always think about replacing that Fsmash with a Fair if it looks predictable.

You continue to get Fair -> tech chase on side-DI, with regrab as an option on toward DI.


This segment is the same as the previous except that this is where you can start tipper Fsmashing away-DI, but not toward DI.  The Utilt combo followup changes a bit as well.  On the later half of this range, you stop being able to connect Fsmash out of Uairs, but you may be able to get them off of Fairs that are not DI'd away.  To beat DI away without Fsmash, Uairs are your best option, as they will carry them across the stage while keeping them in reach for another Fair/Uair mixup or a Dair ender (I should mention here that you cannot do Dairs right out of grabs against Falcon unlike against Fox and Falco, except maybe at small range of % and slight away DI).


At this range you get access to some of your strongest mixups.  Utilts require you guess one more time in the combo to get the kill than other options, at least.  On no-DI, you may choose to only guess once by ambiguously mixing up what side you are going to Fsmash Falcon.  If you Fsmash to your back, they'll get sent in that direction (usually). To send them in front of you, you must walk a tiny distance backward.  This is the only place where you can Uthrow->Uair->Fsmash in the style of Fox/Falco combos, due to Falcon's weight, so alternatively you can choose to do that.

DIing away is also very dangerous for Falcon, as you have access to tipper Fsmash that Falcon must survival DI or die.  Fair begins to juggle a bit better here, too, to beat survival DI, though it won't hit hard enough yet to put them at threat of an Fsmash as a followup.


This is where you get your strongest mixup on side-DI, while your mixup on no-DI gets... creative. The side DI mixup involves your max % Fsmashes (requiring pivots at the high end) for this DI as well as your most threatening SH Fair.  

Against no-DI, you may choose start a string of Fair/Uair mixups starting with an Uair or you may try for an Fsmash, whose survival DI seems to be best covered by a FH soft aerial mixup, similar to what have against Fox at certain ranges.  It's difficult to describe how this aerial should be landed.  You may choose to do a tightly timed dash forward FH back, or you can also SH forward and quickly DJ back up, as you won't need the DJ.  A third option I found recently is to FH in place and hit a reverse tipper Fair which will send them up and behind you, which I think is the ideal choice.  After one of these aerials hits, you may choose to hit with any aerial in an attempt to continue.  The situation will be quite inconsistent and depending on DI, but it is a good option to force Falcon behind your original grab position.

In Fsmash/FH aerial mixup, you send them behind you either way, so if you want to have a chance send them in the other direction for stage position reasons, then go with the Uair, fading to follow DI in such a way that you get access to a Fair/Uair mixup.


This range is similar to the previous one except you lose access to Fsmash on side DI but get your max % Pivot Fsmashes on no-DI.  It also becomes harder to land the reverse tipper fair but easier to land reverse FH aerials with momentum.  If you choose Uair here, the resulting juggle will be shorter due to the higher percent.  Side DI forces a Fair/Uair juggle.


Marks the end of the line for followups for Side-DI, which aren't very good.  No threatening mixup for no-DI, either.  Just pick an aerial.  You can hope they DI in with a soft one, but they're pretty safe to just DI away.  The rest of the segments don't need any explanation.

Slight DI

Here was my table that tried to reconcile slight DI followup breakpoints with the rows of the other chart.  It breaks things in a few more columns.  The slight DI used was the DI that the CPU does in Training mode when you set it to attack, but there are many different possible slight DIs.  Slight DI makes things easier for you at low percents, but messes up your Fsmashes big time at mid percents, though good mixups remain.  You may be forced to do more soft fairs into tech chases.  Resist the temptation to do low percentage uairs when you don't have to, as they don't continue combos well.  A key option that slight DI adds is a mixup on whether you will turn around when you utilt; this occurs at 50-56 with this particular slight DI as a replacement your reverse Fsmash/utilt mixup for no-DI.

To Conclude

Combos on Falcon require a good amount of mixups if Fsmash isn't available, but you don't always need to combo to dair against him.  Even "failed" juggles may be converted to edgeguards.  Finishing with a soft fair is fine in lot of cases.  

The complexity that Slight DI adds and the complexity of the table even without it is a good argument for just doing the throw combos by feel, but there's still plenty of important breakpoints in followups that are good to have memorized.  Getting a feel for how to react to the situation while having two great mixup options at your disposal is required to maximize your punishes consistently, either way, as the table only goes as far as one or two followups after the throw.  At least having read this post, you don't have to "feel" your way too far in the dark.

I don't think any flowchart is necessary, as it'd be too complicated and nothing flows together as much as it branches out, having fewer regrab situations than against Fox or Falco.

A lot of this won't be useful because Marth players don't think FD is a good stage to play on against Falcon, but I find Dreamland more frustrating due to the high platforms that don't offer the advantage of Fsmash tipper opportunites, and Falcons often take me to Stadium, while we usually strike to BF if I don't strike toward FD or counterpick it myself.  Seems like mastery of these combos would make FD quite viable.