What Everyone Gets Wrong About Amiibo Training

by Doc – Owner, Founder, Spitter of Facts

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Every baseball fan is familiar with Moneyball. Moneyball is a movie about the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season. The general manager of the team, Billy Beane, has to assemble a quality baseball team on a very limited budget – typically impossible in the world of baseball, where quality is very quantifiable, and comes with a heavy price tag as a result.

Billy Beane, using some stats nerds, takes a nontraditional approach to baseball. He buys players who “get on-base” more than other players at the same price tag. Basically, he wants the most “on-bases” per dollar spent.

Billy Beane wants players on-base because runs are earned, and games won, by putting players on-base. It doesn’t matter how often someone hits a home run – if there’s a guy on Third when he hits, you’ve netted yourself a run.

Moneyball basically shifted the focus of baseball from goals like home run percentage and Runs Batted In to the more fundamental stats. Amiibo needs to have the same focus.

Mega Man amiibo.

Protoman – Exhibit A

Everyone who watches the Amiibo Doctor Youtube Channel is familiar with Protoman. Protoman is my Mega Man amiibo, who pioneered the Mega Man meta and was the first Mega Man to have any real headway in tournaments. Every Mega Man before him was projectile-based, and as a result he was considered C- to D tier.

Protoman changed that by refusing projectiles in favor of his heaviest-hitting moves. He was the first melee-only Mega Man, and almost three years later he still punches very high above his weight whenever I enter him in a tournament. Many Mega Mans have mimicked Protoman to great success, but they haven’t surpassed him.

Here’s why.

Protoman doesn’t build damage. The amiibo AI is already designed to build damage with things like its built-in jab and projectile usage, so I didn’t need to focus on anything that would rack up percents. Instead, I exclusively train KO moves into him – Up Tilt, Up Smash, Up Air, and Back Air for edgeguarding. Each of those four moves have some purpose that directly ties into a KO.

  • Up Tilt is for surprise onstage KOs.
  • Up Smash is for catching opponents who land, and potentially KOing lighter weights at middle percents
  • Up Air is for taking advantage of amiibo AI and KOing them if they jump while in the tornado
  • Back Air is a precise edgeguard whose third hit has high knockback scaling

Over the years, a few of these moves haves been swapped out: many trainers use Down Smash for its slightly increased KO power in exchange for less juggle-able hitboxes. Most trainers use Forward Air for edgeguards because the hitbox is larger, and the move is easier to train. But these substitutes have something in common: they’re still KO moves.

Pokemon Trainer amiibo.

Agent #006 – Exhibit B

I also pioneered the Pokemon Trainer meta in similar manner (though my Pokemon Trainer is nowhere near as influential as the ones that later achieved much greater results). When training Agent #006, I made the decision to focus solely on using each Pokemon’s side special move: this is because they all shared the same behavior data, so if one learned a move, they all would.

The only useful move they all shared was their side special. Withdraw and Flare Blitz have KO power, particularly Flare Blitz, and Razor Leaf is a useful projectile that complements the KO power Ivysaur has elsewhere. It was a great foundation.

Later Pokemon Trainer trainers built on this foundation to greater victories – they added Up Smash and Forward Air as vital parts of the Pokemon Trainer kit. Up Smash is a powerful KO move on each character, and Forward Air is a useful edgeguard that each character handles well. The foundation that I laid for Trainer still holds true today.

You’ll notice something about each of the moves that Mega Man and Pokemon Trainer were taught their KO moves specifically, with no focus on damage-building moves.

The Point

In order to win, your amiibo needs three KOs. It doesn’t matter what percentage the opponent was at, or how they were KOed, only that three KOs happened.

We see this play out in the tier list: no matter what rendition I show you, you’ll see the heavyweights with lots of KO power at the top, and as you go down the list the competitors get lighter and have less KO power. They build damage too – but their damage is built by using their KO moves.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m well aware that lower tier amiibo have fewer KO moves to choose from, and thus they need to build damage as well. But amiibo AI is smart enough that it won’t just do what you tell it to, including building damage with other parts of its kit. Damage just gets the amiibo to the point where it can land a KO; nothing more.

Protoman and Agent #006 punched above their weight because they focused on KO power when previous Mega Mans and Pokemon Trainers didn’t. So, in order to win, trust that the amiibo AI will use other parts of its kit to build damage, and focus on KO power. Everything else is for show.

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