The Steve amiibo Strategy

by Doc – Owner, Founder, You Wanna See My Minecraft World?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but amiibo behavior is partially determined by RNG. You can’t perfectly predict what your amiibo will do in a situation or how it will respond until the situation has already started.

This presents a problem for every amiibo, but specifically amiibo like:

  • Joker
  • Terry
  • Kazuya
  • Hero
  • Banjo
  • Mr. Game & Watch
  • Peach/Daisy
  • Pokemon Trainer

Let me ask you: what do all these characters have in common? Take a minute and consider their movesets…

The Moveset Problem

Alright, that’s long enough. All of these characters (and many more unlisted ones) have something in their moveset that changes after a certain point or action in the match. Joker has Arsene. Terry has GO! moves and Kazuya has that demon grab thing. Banjo’s Wonderwing runs out after five uses in a stock, and Mr. Game & Watch, the Princesses and Pokemon Trainer have mechanics that are heavily dependent on RNG in some way. Hero is a living slot machine.

Because of this inconsistent moveset, these amiibo have a lower skill floor and higher skill ceiling than one would expect. The Peach AI could be playing terribly, but could pull a Stitchface Turnip and land a free KO that saves the match. Mr. Game & Watch could be playing at the top of his game, but consistently get the worst Judge outcomes possible and lose. The extra layer of randomness adds more unpredictability to the amiibo’s playstyle, and amiibo trainers have to strategize around that when training.

Steve is the poster child of inconsistent movesets. At any point in the match, most of Steve’s inputs can have one of six different modes: Fist, Wood, Stone, Iron, Gold or Diamond. There’s no way to be certain about the what kind of resources your Steve amiibo will have after the first ten seconds of the match.

Further, the Steve AI is far less consistent than even the characters on that list. The Steve AI is probably the most complicated AI in the game (it’s a debate as to whether Kazuya is more complicated). The devs gave him all kinds of Up Tilt combo shenanigans, combo starters with Down Tilt, block extensions for the combos, and at least three different ledgeguards. This is all laid on top of a superordinate Mine-Craft-Block instruction that takes priority whenever the amiibo decides for one reason or another to Mine, Craft or place a Block. It’s a ridiculously complicated AI, and the amiibo has bad matches as often as it has good ones.

So if your Steve is going to be an unpredictable mess, how on earth do you strategize for Steve?

Steve amiibo using Anvil.

Strategizing for Steve

To strategize for Steve, you have to understand that most of Steve’s power comes from one resource: iron. Steve spawns with at least three iron ingots in his moveset, but requires four to upgrade to iron. This means that Steve has to mine for at least 2-4 seconds (depending on the type of stage) before getting to what will most likely be his most powerful resource in the match. Since Steves don’t usually get the space to mine for Diamond, we’ll assume that we have to maximize our iron availability without sacrificing success.

Steve has two attacks that use a lot of iron: Down Air’s Anvil, and Side Special’s Minecart. Anvil is practically a necessity for Steve, as he has no other way to “get down” after an opponent has juggled him. It’s also a highly effective and pretty safe edgeguard move, typically resulting in a KO due to its sheer power. So we’ll make sure to use Anvil, but not so much that he uses all his iron.

What about Minecart? Minecart isn’t so great of an attack, and most of its KO power is negated by the unique aspects of amiibo AI. See, Minecart with Steve inside is typically parried, so it’s useless. But Minecart without Steve functions a projectile with a command grab hitbox… and it’s still useless. Even if the Minecart “grabs” the opponent it won’t have much effect, because amiibo mash at 30 inputs per second. That Minecart won’t hold the opponent for long. So let’s not spend the iron on Minecart.

You can use this kind of logic across Steve’s entire moveset. Up Smash doesn’t require resources? Awesome, it’s a great juggling move so we’ll include it. Forward Smash takes a lot of durability off of the sword? Well, if we plan to use a lot of jabs then we may have to pick between one or the other. Plan to go heavy on Forward and Back air, or Dash attack? Stages that mine with the Pickaxe will probably reduce his aerial viability by breaking the Pickaxe early, but the amiibo has built-in Pickaxe usage for spiking, so maybe it’s okay to mine a bit more often to compensate for the guaranteed Pickaxe usage.

There’s a lot of tradeoffs to managing Steve’s durability even without worrying about iron. To that end, I typically prioritize the useful non-resource attacks (Up Smash, Down Smash, Grab, etc.) at the top of my “to-train” list, and then as the amiibo shapes up focus more on the resource-heavy attacks that the amiibo is guaranteed to use, like Up Tilt combos. We aren’t going to be close to “optimal” Steve for a very long time because of the sheer randomness of the character, so take your time to balance resource gathering, move usage and the playstyle of the Steve amiibo.

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