by Luckman, Guest Contributor and Definitely Not Leeya, We Swear
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Heya, my name is Luckman and I’m the author for this Cloud guide! I have trained almost 40 Cloud bins, the most notable of the bunch being Strife, LIMIT-less, FUSION and my most outstanding so far, SEIGENを. My Clouds usually perform dominantly in tournaments with a total of 17 top 3 placements.
SEIGENを, however, outperforms them all, earning 9 out of my 10 ranked Cloud wins I’ve achieved to date (one including a major win!). My Cloud is currently 65th on the Long Term rankings and is currently the highest ranked Cloud. I have one of the highest Amiibots win rates and ratings for Cloud with over 100 games, a 76.47% win rate for 102 games and a 28.27 rating. Cloud is certainly the amiibo I have dedicated the most time to labbing, testing and experimentation throughout the entirety of my Amiibo career. I even hold the second most entered amiibo character title thanks to him. Due to my experience with Cloud and my love for Final Fantasy 7, I meticulously studied Cloud’s AI to train SEIGENを, who has become an example for the Clouds that follow. I hope that by reading this guide, you can unlock the potential of Cloud and train him to be a First Class SOLDIER!
Before delving into the backbone of this guide, we need to understand Cloud’s weaknesses to get a better understanding for what not to do. Patch 9.0 for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was game-changing. It brought Zelda nerfs, new Link combos and also introduced some new Cloud changes. As of 9.0, Cloud can actually use his LIMIT gauge! While at first this may seem great, it’s really more of a double-edged sword. Since Cloud is able to burn LIMIT a lot more consistently, he will sometimes end up using his LIMIT break on a Blade Beam (Neutral B) when returning to stage. This causes him to SD, even in scenarios where he sometimes could have recovered normally or used LIMIT Climhazzard (Up B) to make it back safely. In spite of this issue, it is important to make sure to teach Cloud which moves to prioritize when returning to the stage. Mainly stick to Forward Aerial, but some Down Aerial can be used if the opponent is directly below him (more on this later).
The LIMIT issues don’t stop here, however! Onstage, Cloud will sometimes use a LIMIT break on a Climhazzard. He usually triggers this action when the opponent is in the air above him. This is one of his weaker options but it is still a decent move. The problem occurs when this routine is executed at the ledge of a stage. Sometimes, Cloud will not estimate his distance from the ledge correctly, which causes him to Up B off the stage and into the bottom blast zone, completely missing the ledge. To refrain from encountering this issue, it is recommended to use Up B as a move sparingly, so he isn’t encouraged to use this option as frequently.
The final LIMIT issue (and main issue before the 9.0 patch) all stems from his Down B. Both LIMIT Charge and Finishing Touch (Down B changes to Finishing Touch when the LIMIT gauge is full) have their own separate issues. Starting off with Finishing Touch, no matter how many times you teach him to use this move, Cloud almost never throws it out. The only times he does are by a random accident or during games with more than 2 characters on screen (Ice Climbers count as 2 characters to him, so he may use it against them). LIMIT Charge may seem like a good idea to use, but you want to make sure that you never charge LIMIT and if you see him charging on his own, to stop him immediately. The charging isn’t really the issue, but what he does out of the charge. By pressing a direction on the movement stick, Cloud will either roll or spot dodge, both of which are terrible for amiibo. Considering he likes to charge a ton too, he will start to become very defensive and shy. This is why the best solution is to go whack him out of his charge, so he doesn’t dodge and you teach him to use the move less.
Cloud actually has one final AI flaw that doesn’t deal with LIMIT. If his Jab is taught incorrectly, he will sometimes try to spam Jab 1. From my understanding this happens with a lot of the cast, but for Cloud specifically I have seen him standing from a far and just spamming it if he landed only Jab 1 at some point. Teaching him Jab can have him do Jab 1 > Jab 2 > Down Smash combos, but for the issue it presents and the lack of killpower on the move, it isn’t worth teaching.
With his flaws covered, we can now begin SOLDIER training! In terms of playstyle, the Cloud amiibo works best as a slow, grounded and tanky attacker with a couple burst options thrown in to have him push his advantage state. Think of it like a brick wall that slowly inches toward the opponent until they are at the edge of the stage. Walking makes Cloud more precise in his actions, especially when taking big swings with his sword. Occasionally running to get to make it to the ledge for some ledge trapping isn’t frowned upon however. Cloud will primarily be utilizing one of his smash attacks. There are 3 builds, Forward Smash, Up Smash and Down Smash. The one I have had the most success with has been with the Forward Smash camp, so that is what this guide will mainly be covering. You will want to teach Cloud a ton of parrying as some of his better moves may be a tad slow in comparison to a lot of other characters. The extra frames really add up and pay off in the long run.
How to Train the Cloud amiibo – Short Version
This guide goes into very high detail. For those searching only for what moves to use in training, here is a very basic list.
- Make sure to use Forward Smash a lot, use some Forward Tilt and Cross Slash as well and add some Dash Attack when the opponent is in front of you
- Up Smash only as an anti air
- For aerials, his main 2 should be Cross slash and Forward Air. Back Air is a great one to teach as well and always use dair when landing. When returning to stage, use as much Forward Air as possible to negate the use of Blade Beam. Forward Air when returning is also a strong option that spikes incoming foes
- At the ledge you can teach him Down Tilt and Blade Beam (although these are already built in along with LIMIT charge) when the opponent is offstage
- Use Up Smash to catch when they try to go above you, ftilt as well at the ledge since it can ko at high percents (done when the opponent is at ledge)
- Offstage play is not recommended
- When the opponent is far away from you, you can use a little Blade Beam (neutral b)
- Don’t charge LIMIT, as he’s programmed to do this anyway! Cloud’s grabs do almost nothing for him, so it’s not worth teaching him to grab (however one grab doesn’t hurt). He does have combos out of them but they aren’t true, so it’s best to avoid
- A couple moves you can use situationally include Up Tilt, Down Tilt and Climhazzard. The tilts have hard coded combos, which allow him to wrack up damage. Although I wouldn’t recommend overusing them in the case that he gets hit out of the combo. The combo is as follows:
Uptilt String / Dtilt > aerial / up b / upsmash (depending on what you use most out of it)
The below paragraphs go in depth on how and when the moves should be used. They also explain why moves may or may not be good in specific scenarios, so to get a proper understanding at training Cloud, I suggest reading the entire guide. (Note a couple things may differ from the notes and the in depth guide for simplicity).
How to Train the Cloud amiibo – Long Version
In terms of move usage, here is a breakdown of which moves he should use in each situation.
In neutral, Cloud’s Forward Smash works wonders. It’s a 3-hit attack that sees him swipe his blade really quickly. It’s a little slow to start, but what it lacks in speed it makes up for in damage and killpower. The beauty of the multi hit means that opponents that are parry-heavy will try to parry the first hit of his attack, only to eat the other two hits. Another thing to note about his Forward Smash is the first hit of the attack is actually the weakest, so if the move gets countered or parried, Cloud won’t really be punished too hard for it. The second move you will want to utilize well is Forward Tilt. A solid move, quick with decent range and great damage. It also serves as a KO move at high percentages. Make sure to teach Cloud some of this as it is a great up close or out of dash option that he can follow up with. Make sure to prioritize Forward Smash as much as possible, switch to Forward Tilt only when in range or when following up. Another great move for Cloud is Cross Slash (Side B). This move without his LIMIT has almost no knockback, but it’s one of Cloud’s best moves for building damage. This will also get him to use his LIMIT Cross Slash some more, which is arguably one of his best moves for amiibo. You can also add a little bit of Up Tilt when the opponent is right up next to you, since it is a combo starter. The following combo trees out of Up Tilt are:
Up Tilt String > Aerial (Depending on which one you used the most, usually Neutral, Up or Back Air)
Up Tilt String > Up Smash String (Low percents)
Up Tilt String > Climhazzard
Try refraining from the last string into Climhazzard as his other options will add on more damage and are more consistent at KOing opponents. The final move you will want to use in neutral is Dash Attack. A great burst option, this move keeps Cloud aggressive, applies pressure and can serve as a great KO move at high percentages. Try to use it sparingly however, as Cloud has a habit of spamming Dash Attack.
For anti airing, your only move should be Up Smash. It is lightning fast, can string into itself at low damage and KOs opponents. Up Tilt still works as well, but Up Smash outclasses it as an anti air for amiibo due to its killpower, damage, speed and range.
In the air, Cloud can utilize a variety of his attacks. He has really good aerial options all around. The main ones you will want to focus on are in the following prioritized order: Cross Slash, Forward Air, Neutral / Back Air. Strikingly, Cloud utilizes aerial Cross Slash really well. Since it is a multi hit, he’s able to connect it really well to opponents that are standing on platforms above him. He is also able to lock opponents in the air for a brief moment while they are helplessly being attacked. Despite doing less damage and knockback while in the air, it is still one of his best damage-dealing attacks while aerial. Aerial Cross Slash also encourages Cloud to use aerial LIMIT Cross Slash, which allows him to seal aerial KOs. This can be game-changing, make sure to do this. Forward Aerial is a great move. It is a little slow to start, but it’s got great horizontal range in front of Cloud that can help him ward off opponents approaching him with ease. It even has a large spike hitbox, so it will spike foes from time to time. Neutral Air and Back Air can be used once in a blue moon. Both are quick aerial moves, with Neutral Aerial serving as more of a “get off me” move and Back Air functioning as another great Aerial KO option and spacing tool. One thing to note, try to make sure to rarely use aerials when training, as Cloud will become very jumpy. We want him to stay grounded as much as possible.
When landing, your 3 options will be Down Air, Cross Slash and Forward Air (in that order). Down Air is a quick move with a huge spike hitbox below it. This helps prevent Cloud from getting juggled a lot. Make sure to prioritize it when landing directly above your opponent. Aerial Cross Slash once again makes an appearance. It is surprisingly very versatile for landing as well. The first hit of the move stalls him in the air for a brief moment, which actually throws off some amiibo, who will try to anti air him. They will usually throw out the move right before he lands because they don’t notice he actually halts in the air for a small period of time. This makes Cloud’s landing a lot safer. It can really turn the tide of the game and help Cloud avoid some brutal moments. If the move connects on the opponent when landing, the opponent may try to shield the first hit. Even so, this move is a multi hit, meaning a lot of the times the opponent will actually drop shield after the first or second hit and take some damage. Make sure to use it when landing onstage with your opponent in front of you. The final move to use will be Forward Aerial. Again this move has great horizontal range and spikes opponents. It is a safe way to push the attacker away and get Cloud to land safely. Neutral and Back Air again can be used for landing, but try to prioritize the other 3.
At the ledge, Cloud has a few options you will want to teach him. The first will be Forward Tilt. This move comes out really quick and is great for ledge trapping. It can KO at high percentages, so when used at ledge it can allow Cloud to force some early KOs. Again, use Up Smash every time as an anti air, in this case when the opponent tries to land on stage or hops in the air off the ledge. You can use Cross Slash and Forward Smash a bit here too for some more damage and KO power. Teaching him Blade Beam at ledge doesn’t do too much for him as it doesn’t travel below or above the stage. The horizontal projection of the move means he rarely gets gimps with it, let alone connects it. Down Tilt on the other hand can pop the opponent up for an Up Smash and two frame recoveries, so try to use it a bit more.
When offstage, you will want to prioritize Forward Aerial and Down Aerial. These will be used when returning to the stage, as they both fend off opponents who chase him offstage. They can both spike the opponent as well, which can be a huge bonus for him. When the Cloud AI recovers, he may try to hit you with his Neutral B. Be on your guard and do not get hit by this move! Avoid it at all costs by jumping over it. You can actually use Neutral or Back Air if you can every now and then for quicker attacks and giving Cloud some breathing room when trying to make it back to stage, but make sure to stick to Forward and Down Aerial mainly. Cloud is limited by his recovery, so offstage play is not recommended. He is easily gimped and against characters with good recoveries like Zelda and will almost always lose the offstage interaction to them, so it’s not worth the gamble to throw him offstage. A lot of the time, he will go offstage to try edgeguarding, overestimates his recovery and SDs. With the addition of the 9.0 LIMIT SDs as well, it causes Cloud to lose many more stocks than he will earn from throwing himself offstage. By making use of his aerials and prioritizing it over Neutral B, you can essentially cause Cloud to SD less!
When the opponent is at a distance onstage, make sure Cloud never charges LIMIT! As stated before this can cause him to spam dodge and roll. Teaching him to charge LIMIT also causes him to sometimes charge right next to an opponent, which isn’t the smartest idea. When Cloud gets hit out of LIMIT charge, he actually loses a chunk of his gauge, so this is something you will not want to teach. Cloud can build LIMIT from taking 100% of damage or doing 200% of damage as well. All 3 of these factors are combined into the LIMIT gauge calculation, so he will have other options to fill his meter more effectively. Make sure when you see him charging LIMIT from a distance, walk up to him and hit him out of it. You can actually utilize a small bit of Blade Beam and LIMIT Blade Beam as they are great onstage projectiles. Don’t overuse it however as opponents will get smart and avoid them, but using it once in a while can help throw them off and get in some chip damage. LIMIT Blade Beam can actually KO opponents at a safe distance and is arguably one of Cloud’s best moves as an amiibo (along with LIMIT Cross Slash and Forward Smash).
An extra section here is dedicated specifically for appropriate LIMIT usage. As mentioned before, never charge LIMIT. If you see your amiibo doing it, hit them out of it to prevent them from learning bad rolling habits. Finishing Touch will not work either, so never use Down B at all. You will mainly want to burn LIMIT on Cross Slash, whether it is aerial or grounded. It is arguably his best LIMIT break option, a multi hit move with good knockback. Think of it like his Forward Smash but with almost no start and endlag. If you find yourself at a distance, you can also use his second best LIMIT option, LIMIT Blade Beam. Also a multi hit with good knockback. It is a projectile so it travels much further and can cover a good distance. Cloud sometimes finishes combos with it after pushing the opponent away from him. Try to refrain from using or getting hit with LIMIT Climhazzard as the amiibo will SD with it when done at the ledge. It is also one of his weaker LIMIT breaks and KOs at only very high percentages. He will tend to use it when the opponent lands anyway, so don’t bother teaching it to him.
By now, your Cloud should meet the criteria of a Second Class SOLDIER! However, there are a couple of Materia you can give Cloud to enhance his abilities even further. Cloud’s grab is not very great for amiibo. Already as a character his grab is one of the slowest in game and has virtually almost no range. It doesn’t really combo into anything after low to mid percentages either. However, Cloud’s hidden weakness (in amiibo and competitive Smash Bros.) is actually shields. A lot of Cloud’s moves are unsafe against shield. Despite his insane damage output, he doesn’t really apply much shield pressure either because his moves output low shield damage. This is where grabs come in. Make sure to never use dash grab, but feel free to use grab once or twice ever during training, when directly beside your amiibo in-game. This will help Cloud grab the opponent out of their shield instead of landing unsafe attacks on them every so often.
The second move you can incorporate will be Down Tilt. Down Tilt is able to combo into some of his moves. The following combo trees are:
Down Tilt > Aerial (Mainly Neutral Air or Up Air Juggles)
Down Tilt > Up Smash (Low percents)
Down Tilt > Climhazzard
Similar to Up Tilt, you will want to refrain from teaching Climhazzard out of Down Tilt as his other options are more reliable. It also discourages Cloud from using LIMIT Climhazzard, especially at ledge since he already tries to use Down Tilt at ledge.
Down Smash is another move you can choose to use once as a ledgetrap, since it can send the opponent back offstage. When used at ledge it also has the potential to land a kill, so it’s not a bad move to use once or twice for this specific build.
The final move you can sprinkle in will be Climhazzard. It may sound strange since I’ve noted not to use it everywhere else in the guide, but the move itself isn’t bad on its own. It’s a really quick option up close and has good vertical range, so it can catch opponents through platforms and ones that try to jump over him. Make sure to use both hits of the move when you use it, otherwise he will sometimes use the first part of the attack only, which puts him into freefall and makes him vulnerable.
With all that said, your Cloud should now be a First Class SOLDIER! This concludes the guide! I hope this guide was able to help give you a detailed look at the intricacies of the Cloud AI as well as mentor you on how to train him optimally. Cloud Strife is one of my favourite characters of all time. He’s tons of fun to train and can put up a good fight against high tiers (when he doesn’t SD or get gimped). As much as people may assume Cloud is just Forward Smash spam, he actually needs to be able to properly utilize a lot of his kit (especially Cross Slash) to awaken his full potential. If you have a Cloud hanging around at home, I urge you to pick him up and give this guide a try! “All right, everyone. Let’s mosey.”