Amiibo Training Mechanics & Metagame Guide (SSB4)

No matter how you look at it, amiibo training is a complicated venture. Raising your own personalized AI and preparing it for high-stake tournament competition might be an alien concept to new players – but worry not – this introduction guide is designed to make the adjustment easier.

Introduction to Amiibo Training

Now then, depending on how much you already know about amiibo training, you may have the misconception that you play as your amiibo in Super Smash Bros. This is not the case. Instead, amiibo are beefed-up CPU characters that you can train as rivals. When you play against them, they pick up on your tactics and strategies and adopt them as their own.

When scanned into Super Smash Bros. for the very first time, your amiibo will start at Level 1. In this state, it acts more like a punching bag than an actual opponent. As it levels up, it will become more active and use your own strategies against you. It will eventually reach Level 50, its most powerful form. In this state, its Attack and Defense far surpass that of a normal CPU fighter. Amiibo can also be fed equipment to further boost their Attack, Defense, and Speed stats.

So, then, how exactly does an amiibo learn? Think of it as a data table of different attacks. Each time you use a move against your amiibo, it adds one point to the move’s entry in its database. Attacks with more points are given higher priority, and thus are more likely to be used. Now, there are some exceptions: for example, Fox amiibo are hard-coded to use their down smash, and Sonic amiibo are hard-coded to use their forward aerials.

Once your amiibo reaches Level 50, its algorithm will change. The data table is now influenced by both the success rate of the amiibo’s attacks and its opponent’s. This means that if a Level 50 amiibo is KOed by a new attack, or if one of its most successful moves fails, its behavior will update to reflect the change in its database.

With this system in mind, it’s important to determine which attacks work best for each character in a tournament setting. Luckily, Cloud Nine’s amiibo training guides have it all figured out for you.

Adjusting to the Amiibo Metagame

The amiibo metagame is very different from others – the main difference being that human players do not compete. Instead, they send their amiibo – a representation of their training efforts – to tournament operators. Using an Amiibo Powersaves or NFC-compatible Android device, an amiibo’s files can be accessed and uploaded to the internet to use in private competitions. If you’d like more information on how this works, please read the online tournaments page.

Now, as far as what to expect from the metagame itself… to seasoned Super Smash Bros. players, it’s going to look ridiculous. Spamming jab is a viable damage-racking “strategy”, Counter moves reign supreme, combos are nearly nonexistent… it’s most certainly an adjustment from traditional competitive Smash. Keep in mind that most tournaments allow and encourage equipment.

You might be familiar with the notion that aerials are bad for amiibo: and this is entirely true. To those of you who have watched an amiibo match before, you might notice that both fighters stand in front of each other and wait to make a move. This is what we refer to as a “neutral situation”. From this position, an aerial-trained amiibo would short hop and attack with a forward aerial. Its opponent would block or dodge, and then respond with an up smash, only for the situation to repeat ad nauseum. As a result, tournament-ready amiibo are trained with a grounded playstyle.

In general, as you submit amiibo to tournaments and watch their performances, you’ll get a feel for what to expect and how to better prepare for the future. To help become better acquainted with the amiibo metagame, here are some training philosophies and opponent archetypes you may encounter:

Three Main Playstyles

Aggressive amiibo aren’t too common, because under normal circumstances, an aggressive playstyle is ineffective. That being said, a select few characters can make it work. “Jab pressure” is a very real concept in the metagame, and Luigi, Cloud, Charizard, Link, and Kirby are among its best users. Their jabs strike several times, and opposing amiibo often perfect shield the first hit, only to drop their guard and get hit by the rest of the move. On an unrelated note, fighters such as Fox, Bayonetta, and Sheik can use the Crash run bonus effect to set up for rare aerial combos.

Defensive amiibo are trained to rely on their shield. This playstyle isn’t quite as common as it used to be, but is still a very real presence in today’s metagame. Any amiibo can be trained defensively, but low-tier contenders Mega Man and Palutena are almost exclusively trained to play defense due to their lack of offensive options. Projectile-based fighters such as Mii Gunner and Olimar can be trained passively to sit back and chip away at foes from afar. A tournament-ready amiibo must know how to deal with both variations of the defensive playstyle.

Corruptive amiibo are interesting, to say the least. This playstyle is exclusive to Mario amiibo, and revolves around training it as poorly as possible. That’s right – purposefully making your amiibo bad is actually a viable training strategy. Corruptive trainers teach their Mario amiibo to overuse its side special, grabs, and aerial attacks. Now, in a tournament setting, each set consists of three games. In the first game, this Mario will get completely annihilated by its enemy. But then, in the second match, things change: the Mario amiibo essentially “transfers” its bad training to its opponent so that it can get the upper hand. Much to the dismay of dedicated trainers, corruptive Mario amiibo have earned several cheap wins.

Ideally, you’re going to want your amiibo’s playstyle to fall somewhere between aggressive and defensive. It has to know when to move out and strike, and when to fall back and defend. You might be wondering how you properly prepare for each of these playstyles: all you have to do is have your amiibo fight an opponent that fits one of these categories. If you have a Power Tag (which comes included with Amiibo Powersaves), feel free to join Cloud Nine’s Discord server to ask around for practice fighters.

Characters to Prepare For

In every metagame, specific characters or elements will rise to the top: it’s inevitable. The amiibo metagame is no exception. Some characters are better than others – check the amiibo tier list for more on that – and unfortunately, the gap between the best and the worst is quite large. Here are a few characters you can expect to see in tournaments:

  • Marth & Lucina: Collectively referred to as “Marcina”, these two are essentially the heart and soul of the metagame. They can use their side specials, which strike multiple times, to catch their enemies off-guard and hit through their shields. This is an incredibly efficient method of racking up damage: in just a few seconds’ time, it can bring a foe within KO range. Marth and Lucina’s Counter moves can turn the tide of battle in an instant, and this proves especially effective against heavyweight fighters. As the strongest amiibo available, Marth and Lucina have advantageous matchups against most of the cast. However, they do have a bit of trouble against Bowser and Ganondorf, and go even with Luigi and Charizard.
  • Bowser: For many years, Bowser has been the most common tournament contender. He’s strong and easy to train, making him a popular choice. His claim to fame is his side special, Flying Slam. It comes out fast and can grab an opponent before they even have time to react. Between this tactic and a generally powerful moveset, Bowser absolutely decimates a good portion of the cast. However, Bowser amiibo have a particularly nasty matchup against Link. In fact, it is nearly unwinnable for Bowser.
  • Link: A recently-discovered top-tier fighter who can really contend with the best. His powerful smash attacks strike multiple times and can catch opponents off-guard, while his jab and Boomerang can both be spammed to great effect. Unfortunately, Link does have a few iffy matchups – Marth, Lucina, and Ness in particular.
  • Cloud: Cloud is one of the newest additions to the amiibo metagame, and his presence quickly became an integral one. His forward smash hits several times, making it tough to block, and can break a full shield with proper timing. The rest of Cloud’s moveset is packed with incredible strength, and his Limit Break pushes this power even further.
  • Little Mac: A bit of a special case here – Little Mac was originally banned from the metagame, but the community insisted on allowing him with the caveat of no Attack investment. Little Mac’s unboosted forward smash can still break a full shield in just a few hits, and his Slip Counter move can turn things around in the blink of an eye.
  • Ganondorf: In the same vein as Bowser, Ganondorf possesses a powerful moveset and an excellent side special that functions as a command grab. Flame Choke combos into down tilt, which in and of itself is a strong tactic that can set up a guaranteed KO at early percentages. In terms of matchups, Ganondorf performs well against Marth and Lucina, and can give fellow top-tiers Cloud, Lucario, and Little Mac a hard time as well.
  • Luigi: The very essence of the ridiculousness present in the metagame, Luigi amiibo find success just by jabbing. By following the opponent and spamming jab, he can rack up lots of damage before sealing the deal with a well-timed forward smash. As a result, Luigi has an advantageous matchup against Bowser, Ganondorf, Ness, and fighters who struggle with jab pressure. In fact, Luigi’s matchups across the board are overall quite solid.
  • Lucario: To be honest, Lucario is a hit-or-miss character. In certain matchups, it performs amazingly well, but in others, its AI makes horrible decisions. Lucario’s aura ability and extraordinarily strong attacks are the only reasons to keep an eye on it.
  • Charizard: Sure, Charizard’s got a powerful moveset, but it’s also got an excellent jab. By rotating jab, forward smash, and up smash, Charizard can turn up the heat on its opponent by applying constant and dangerous pressure.

As you can see, there are a lot of characters to watch for. And just because a character isn’t on this list doesn’t mean they aren’t a threat: these are just a few types of fighters you might expect to see in a tournament setting. To help your amiibo gear up for battle, all you have to do is toss it into a match against one of these characters. For best effect, your amiibo should practice against human opponents and amiibo opponents.

Get Out There!

The amiibo metagame is wide and expansive – and it’s certainly a lot to stomach at first glance. If you have any additional questions regarding amiibo training, you can read the FAQ, pop into Cloud Nine’s Discord server, or fill out the contact form. Otherwise, kickstart your training with one of our nifty character guides.


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